I’ve been following Jimmy Chin on social media for years now, and I always take a moment to observe any photo he posts. He is a pro when it comes to outdoor photography, but he is also an incredible adventure sports athlete. Some of his adventures are truly inspiring… not to say completely insane.
The moment I spotted Jimmy’s course on MasterClass, I knew I would take it sooner or later. However, I was a bit hesitant because of my photography skills. I generally love looking at outdoor photography, and I’m familiar with the basics of using a camera, but I don’t own any expensive gear, nor do I have any plans to climb Mt. Everest to take some photos anytime soon…
I decided to take the “Jimmy Chin teaches Adventure Photography” MasterClass nevertheless. I wanted to see how the mind of such an adventurer works, and I wanted to learn more about adventure photography.
In this review, I will tell you everything about my learning experience so you can resolve any potential doubts.
Without further ado, let’s climb!
Table of Contents
What is the Jimmy Chin MasterClass?
In his MasterClass, Jimmy Chin teaches adventure photography, including everything from constructing a photo narrative to shooting, editing, and post-processing. The course contains on-location lessons as well as more technical tips and guidelines regarding outdoor photography.
Jimmy Chin is one of the most sought-after adventure sports athletes, and his work has been profiled in reputable publications such as National Geographic, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. All of that makes him a perfect instructor for an adventure photography class.
Although he does cover some photography fundamentals, he doesn’t stick to the basics that much. Therefore, Jimmy’s MasterClass is probably best for those who are already familiar with a camera.
The course features 20 lessons with a duration of 4 hours and 10 minutes in total. So, it’s not particularly long, but the lessons cover a range of topics and provide an in-depth look into Jimmy’s techniques and adventure photography in general.
Who is Jimmy Chin?
Jimmy Chin is a photographer, filmmaker, climber, and author. He has been a professional climber and skier on The North Face Athlete team for over 20 years, and he is one of the few to have skied Mount Everest from the summit and captured the coveted first ascent of the notorious Shark’s Fin on Meru.
Due to his versatile career and expertise, he is a receiver of many awards, including the Audience Choice Award at the Sundance Film Festival. With his film Free Solo, he also made the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary.
As an artist, Chin’s work has been featured in publications like National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Outside Magazine, and others. In 2019, he was awarded the National Geographic Photographer’s Photographer Award by his peers.
What is the target audience for Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass?
There’s no doubt about it: Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass is not aimed at absolute beginners. He often uses more advanced terms and delves deeper into his editing process, gear, camera functions, and so on. But if you’re a fast learner and you’re up for a challenge, you can try it even if you don’t have much previous experience.
It’s true that people with some prior knowledge can benefit the most from Jimmy’s MasterClass. On the other hand, as an adventure photography beginner, I can say I genuinely enjoyed this course. There were some moments where I had to check the workbook to see what he was talking about, but there were also many lessons that covered more general stuff, such as capturing your passions, commercial work, and the basics of high-stake photography.
Also, I think I enjoyed the course because I love Jimmy’s work, so I’m sure any admirer of him wouldn’t regret taking this course. But you should be prepared for a deep dive into the world of outdoor photography.
To sum things up, here are some of the people who would, in my opinion, benefit the most from Jimmy’s MasterClass:
- Aspiring outdoor photographers
- Photographers with some experience
- Adventure sports enthusiasts
- Admirers of Jimmy Chin
What does Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass cover?
As just mentioned, Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass is best suited for aspiring photographers who already know a thing or two about a camera.
However, the course also covers some basic stuff as well as more general topics and stories regarding Jimmy’s life as a photographer. Lessons are interesting and versatile, and there are video clips and on-location lessons that will appeal to any outdoor adventure enthusiast.
When it comes to outdoor photography, Jimmy talks about the principles of narrative, shooting, editing, choosing the right gear, and post-processing. He also breaks down his approach to photographing mountain landscapes and digs deeper into some of his projects through case studies and photo studies.
Finally, he shares his own story of becoming a photographer and gives useful tips on how to pursue your passion.
Here is a brief overview of what to expect from Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass:
- Lessons 1-2 allow you to join Jimmy Chin on location for a photoshoot. He talks about taking portraits, using natural light, and shooting while climbing.
- Lesson 3 revolves around finding your passion and capturing it with a camera.
- Lessons 4-5 are based on the principles of narrative. Jimmy talks about developing a concept, researching, shooting, editing, and generally bringing your vision to life.
- Lesson 6 reveals what Jimmy learned while shooting from the top of the tallest building in the United States.
- Lessons 7-8 are focused on commercial work, pitching, working with clients, and integrating your creative voice into brand campaigns.
- Lesson 9 contains Jimmy’s tips and directives on how to safely run a photo shoot when the stakes are high.
- Lessons 10-11 are focused on creative collaboration, partnerships, and leadership.
- Lesson 12 is a photo studies lesson based on mountain landscape photography.
- Lessons 13-15 contain editing and post-processing tips and tricks.
- Lessons 16-17 reveal what shooting gear Jimmy Chin uses. He also dives into different camera modes and settings.
- Lessons 18-20 are the final lessons, where Jimmy shares his personal story of becoming a photographer and gives useful career advice.
My favorite lessons from Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass
Overall, I had fun taking Jimmy’s course. He is a very casual and spontaneous instructor, and although that might be a disadvantage for some people, that made me find him more relatable. Also, I didn’t feel overwhelmed or stressed at any point, even when he talked about more advanced camera stuff.
As a novice in the field of adventure photography, I enjoyed the non-technical lessons the most. It was cool to see how Jimmy works on location, and it was great to hear his career advice. Most of his advice and tips regarding taking risks, finding your passion, and being persistent apply to other creative fields as well.
Now, here are some of the lessons I enjoyed the most:
Capturing Your Passions
One of the first things you need to do as a photographer is to choose what you want to shoot. To find your voice as a photographer, you need to look at different work, as Jimmy suggests, and you need to be able to take risks.
For Jimmy, the stakes always have to be high. He also believes that in order to become a successful photographer (or anything else really), you need to be willing to fail. Failure isn’t permanent, says Jimmy, and the earlier you do it, the better.
In this exciting lesson, Jimmy explains his way of approaching high-stakes photography. He talks about identifying risks accurately through a risk equation and the importance of becoming familiar with the environment. It’s also important to have multiple backup plans.
Becoming a Photographer: Jimmy’s Story
One thing is for sure: Jimmy Chin has a lot of exciting stories to tell. And although it’s not possible to cram everything noteworthy about Jimmy’s life into a 16-minute video, it was interesting to hear where everything started for him.
In this lesson, he also tells a story of how he first met Galen Rowell and how everything shifted after that. It’s a funny story that actually shows his persistence.
How much does Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass cost?
MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, which means you can’t purchase courses individually. Therefore, if you want to take Jimmy Chin’s photography class, you have to become a subscriber.
The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $120 per year, or $10 per month. This is really not very expensive, considering the MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes.
Also the platform also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
What I liked about Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass
I think Jimmy Chin did a great job of teaching an Adventure Photography MasterClass – he is relaxed, spontaneous, and interesting to listen to. He might not be as engaging as some other MasterClass instructors, but that didn’t bother me that much.
The most important thing about his class is that it is very insightful and useful, especially if you have some experience and you want to bring your skills to the next level.
Jimmy covers plenty of great topics, and he isn’t hesitant about sharing his secrets. He talks about his gear and camera modes in detail.
If you want to delve deeper into outdoor photography, you would undoubtedly benefit from this class.
Here are some of the reasons I would recommend it to aspiring as well as working photographers and fellow Jimmy Chin admirers:
Great examples and walkthroughs
Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass was a pleasure to take, and one of the reasons is because of its fluidity and good structure. Lessons are very easy to follow, and there are many great visual examples that will help you understand everything better.
For instance, in editing and post-processing lessons, you can see edits on-screen, so I knew exactly what Jimmy was talking about.
In addition, many of Jimmy’s stories are accompanied by photos and short clips.
One of the best things about this course is its versatility. There are on-location lessons, gear walkthroughs, photo studies, case studies, and more.
During on-location lessons, it felt like I was watching a documentary, while some other lessons, like the editing lesson, provide a real school-like vibe. On the other hand, Jimmy is a casual instructor, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point.
In any case, I think it’s great for the course to offer versatile lessons, both visually and content-wise.
Jimmy shares many useful tips for outdoor photographers. And he doesn’t shirk from sharing the secrets of the trade.
It’s great to see that someone is so open about his work, and this is certainly a great way for any photographer to learn something valuable and apply that to their work.
Also, some of the advice he gives can be applied to other fields as well. For example, his advice to look at different works and other genres to find your voice as a photographer is a piece of great advice for writers, artists, musicians, and actors.
Drawbacks of Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass
Overall, I think Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass is worth taking. It’s a great course for photographers with some experience who want to take a closer look at Jimmy Chin’s camera modes, gear parts, and editing process.
However, there is one thing that might be a potential drawback for some learners.
Jimmy is not so engaging as a teacher
Compared to some other MasterClass instructors I’ve learned from, Jimmy Chin is not a particularly skilled and engaging teacher. He doesn’t speak in a very structured way, and for the most part, it feels like he is having a conversation rather than teaching. This is not necessarily bad, though – I think it’s great to be casual and relaxed – but I understand if this might be a bit discouraging for some people.
Also, he doesn’t always explain some technical terms, and he assumes you have prior knowledge, but that’s simply because the course isn’t aimed at first-time beginners.
Review conclusion: Is Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass worth it?
Overall, I think Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass is worth taking. It’s insightful, versatile, and interesting.
Jimmy Chin is a rather casual teacher, and he isn’t always engaging, but he is also very inspiring, relatable (in some ways, at least), and likable.
His adventure photography course is also rather detailed when it comes to practical tips, so it’s probably best for learners with some prior knowledge. However, the use of graphics and clips makes everything easier to grasp.
Finally, this MasterClass left me feeling very motivated. I might not go skiing on Mt. Everest tomorrow, but I will surely consider taking more risks and getting out of my comfort zone more often.