Chapter 18 of 20 from Jimmy Chin

Career Advice: Building a Body of Work


Building a career takes tenacity and patience. Learn Jimmy's philosophy behind a life in photography--and how hard work, passion, and perseverance can lead to success.

Topics include: Amplify Your Initial Spark • Tackle Big Ideas One Step at a Time • Market Yourself: Build a Foundation

Building a career takes tenacity and patience. Learn Jimmy's philosophy behind a life in photography--and how hard work, passion, and perseverance can lead to success.

Topics include: Amplify Your Initial Spark • Tackle Big Ideas One Step at a Time • Market Yourself: Build a Foundation

Jimmy Chin

Jimmy Chin Teaches Adventure Photography

National Geographic photographer teaches his techniques for planning, capturing, and editing breathtaking photos.

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Push the limits of your photography

Jimmy Chin has built his career taking photos at the top of the world, earning him the cover of National Geographic and multiple awards. Now he’s taking you on location to teach you techniques for capturing breathtaking shots. Learn his different creative approaches for commercial shoots, editorial spreads, and passion projects. Gather the gear—and the perspective—to bring your photography to new heights.

From selecting the right gear to telling stories through images, Jimmy Chin teaches you how to plan shoots, capture the best shots, and edit in the studio.

A downloadable book accompanies the class with photography and supplemental learning material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Jimmy will also critique select student work.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Jimmy's story is incredibly inspirational and motivating. I've been shooting for a while so the technical stuff was validating - I use the same equipment, do the same backups and edit similarly to his process. What I really loved about the class were his stories and adventures. Thank you!

So pleased when I saw Jimmy Chin had done a Masterclass and it didnt disappoint. Inspirational- thankyou

I love your high quality of work in photography. For me, it takes a lot of practice.

Great class. Hope to put some of these ideas to work.


Alex H.

For all intents and purposes, a true "lucky break" without lots of time spent, in addition to being strategic (and tactical when needed) will never, ever happen. Nobody ever simply "gets noticed"- they simply manage to hide how hard they worked to subtly place their work in front of the right people.

Francesco G.

I started adventure photography basically 2 years ago with climbing. Before of that I was still searching for my way (I'm passionate about outdoor sports, I've always practiced them but never came to the conclusion to merge these two things, kudos to my stupidity :D ). After shooting friends and a semi-pro athlete, I got my first job later in 2018 working for a climbing guide. Today I'm working on a winter climbing project for a magazine. I hope that somewhere tomorrow I'll end up working with brands and huge athletes like Jimmy. As he basically said, one step at a time!


Basically, NEVER GIVE UP. Keep trying to do BETTER and push the LIMITS. :)

Alex M.

"If you get a lucky break, do you have the body of work to support it." Very wise words Jimmy, I've often thought the same. To be ready to seize that key moment which could realise your career."

stasia P.

Thank you for the concept of focusing on the 10 feet in front of me but having the awareness to see how all the objects will lead me to the top. I'm sure I will never shoot a high altitude summit because I am a chicken, but I can glean all sorts of wisdom from those who have adventured and explored for me and come back with wisdom that I find very tangible. Thank you Jimmy.


If you want a career in photography, clearly, you have to do the work. I think you can be talented. You can think of it as a hobby. But if you're serious about it, it's about committing. It's about being obsessive. You know, I always say, you have to do your due diligence. You have to get out and shoot. It's kind of building on this body of work that you have. Building that body of work is great, because it helps you get honed in and refined with your camera, your equipment, thinking about shooting, how you're going to shoot it, different approaches. There's so many things to learn about photography that it really is about boots on the ground and getting out to shoot. If this is something you want to pursue, like anything in life, you've got to throw down. You've got to make it happen. It takes obsessiveness. It takes relentless pursuit. It takes getting beaten down and getting back up. It can also be really enjoyable. I mean, you should love the work. You should love getting out and creating images, and motivated every day to do it. It should be a calling. For me, it's given meaning. It's given purpose to my life. It should feel like that. I think people are lucky when they discover something that gives them meaning and purpose. And if you feel that, you have to go after it, and it has to be relentless. Producing that body of work doesn't come easily. There are really no shortcuts. You really have to spend the time. It can be challenging, for sure. Breaking into the photography business isn't easy, nor should it be. I think it's nice to give yourself assignments. It's great practice. Think of these ideas that you want to-- or a story that you want to tell, and go out and shoot it. That's the best way to develop that voice and the best way to kind of start putting all these different kind of abstract ideas and coming back with images. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I'm thinking about a shoot, I think through a lot of different ideas of what I want and try to get. You have to build your ideas from a certain point. So you kind of have your initial spark. I think a good way to approach it is having that initial spark, and then thinking bigger. Looking at it and thinking how you could make it really incredible. And I mean, that's what it means to push yourself creatively. Taking that first idea and taking it up another level, and then up another level, and really pushing it to as grand a scale as you can think of. Then you work backwards from that in a way. Sometimes you're also thinking about a shoot or an image, and you can go the other way, minimizing it if it's something more detailed or abstract. But in most cases, I think of a shoot, an idea, and I'm really thinking about how I can take it further and create something that maybe I haven't seen before. So it really requires you to think outside of the box. But when you are thinking about big ideas like that, there's a whole other side of that, right? Because if ...