Design, Photography, & Fashion

Commercial Case Study: Canon Shoot

Jimmy Chin

Lesson time 23:03 min

Analyzing photos and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from a high-alpine photoshoot, Jimmy teaches his approach to leading a team and composing shots in the mountains.

Jimmy Chin
Teaches Adventure Photography
National Geographic photographer teaches his techniques for planning, capturing, and editing breathtaking photos.
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Sometimes the process of working with a commercial client is also educating them. Educating them about, you know, what it is to shoot this kind of an image or what it is to shoot this kind of campaign. There are a lot of great agencies and a lot of great producers and creative directors who get it. But sometimes, especially in my line of work, they don't really understand that you don't just go out in the backyard and snap this shot. A recent job that kind of illustrates the commercial process would be a shoot I did actually a couple weeks ago for Canon. The job came directly to me. I was presented with an idea from the agency, which was great. I didn't have to pitch. I didn't have to kind of go on hands and knees, begging for this job. But there were a couple stipulations around it. They said, look. This is the biggest campaign we've done since the 5D. And we want you to do what you do. Here's some creative that we'd like you to consider. The kind of presentation they gave me actually were images that they'd pulled from my website, and they knew what they wanted, essentially. The stipulation was that they needed it done in two weeks, meaning that we would have a week to put it together and then a week to execute it. And literally, they were going to print in two weeks. Given what they were showing me that they wanted, it was a very broad kind of scope of work. The images that they had pulled were from-- cherry-picked from two-month-long expeditions to Everest and to expeditions around the world. High alpine climbing. Shots that were, like, the iconic shots from each expedition. So yeah. I explained to them. I said, hey, look. These shots, I get what you're going for. These shots aren't exactly just really easy to get. So we talked about the budget. We talked about how serious they were. Did it really have to be glaciated, high alpine terrain? Could it be smaller peaks? But they were like, no. We really want to push this campaign, and we really want you to do this and take it as far as you can go. So then we started to put the plan into place. I needed to put together basically an alpine assault team of climbers that could climb at a very high level. There were restrictions around who we could pick because of the timeline, because of permitting issues, because of work visas. So I knew I had to get Canadians. I called all the-- as if there's tons of high alpine specialists. And most of them weren't available. It was just too short notice. So the best guys I knew of were out. I had to then go and ask for recommendations. I knew that I was going to have to pick a team of climbers that I'd never worked with before. So I vetted them as best I could and put together a really strong safety team, and explained to the client that given the timeline, we couldn't have a huge production either. I couldn't bring in five clients and five people from the agency. Like, this was going to be kind of a surgical strike...

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. In his photography class, learn different creative approaches for commercial shoots, editorial spreads, and passion projects. Gather the gear—and the perspective—to bring your photography to new heights.


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

Ahhh! So sad it's done! Jimmy does such a great job sharing his passion for climbing and photography. I watched the last 3 chapters twice because I kept writing down phrases and pausing to think and dream. So good!

While my photos are at lower altitude, I loved this class. Jimmy Chin is a super hero and to have him as an instructor was a dream. One day I hope he shoots my image for the cover of Outside magazine.

Amazing experience! Jimmy has a very clear vision and protocols to develop his work. It's a great lesson for everyone who wants to start in the field.

Jimmy was an excellent teacher and I felt that I was one on one with him as he walked me through all the different aspects of his work. It's amazing to be able to learn from someone you look up to and strive to emulate.


Peter S.

Pretty much all of these classes are completely Worthless. I came into the MasterClass with a lot of questions and expectations. Should I get a teleconverter lens? Tell me in your 20 classes many scenarios that you use different lenses. Tell me why this f-stop is preferable. What are the settings of your national geographic photos? What are ideal combinations of f-stop, Iso and aperture to get proper photos outside vs inside. Midday vs night time, etc. Jimmy Chin ends up talking about things like "you need to allow yourself to fail." Yea, no kidding, I already learn those lessons everyday in my own life and my own career. This is a waste of money. I literally learned more about photography from the first 5 minutes from ANY YOUTUBE VIDEO or from the first five minutes of any photography book or the first 5 minutes from taking a photography class. He just wastes your time telling you stories about when he was a kid, waiting tables, working for his mentors, how Conrad is his best friend, etc, etc, etc.

Caetano L.

Jimmy is a very good teacher, not only does he talk about important things but he also explains them very clearly. And it helps considerably that he loves what he does. Anyone of us, students, can put to good use what we learn from him. Too bad we can’t all climb as he does, so, for us, mere mortals, hoping to achieve his outstanding level of photography will forever remain an unachievable goal.

Jacob G.

Wow. How this was put all together in a short period of time is inspirational. You got it? Move. Shoot.

Ryan S.

Learning lots and loving the content here from you Jimmy, but what pack are you using to carry all of your gear when youre out on an excursion? What is that Northface pack that has camera accessibility and compartments?

Kenton M.

What a great lesson! I love hearing about Jimmy's stories and adventures! The man has got some stories for sure. :D I was kinda surprised to hear him say "Fuck". This was very educational to me. I shoot with Canon!

A fellow student

Love how much you play with different lenses, focal lengths, and horizontal/vertical. Especially on such a tight project. Gorgeous shot location.

A fellow student

As an outsider, I am amazed by Jimmy’s lessons and just enjoy watching him shooting.

Jim C.

I assume shooting for Canon, you'd get all the Canon equipment you'd want/need. That would be sweet.


I can see how a smaller team would allow you to be more agile and give you the creative freedom you need to get the job done most efficiently. Sometimes having a lot of people means a lot of distractions and conflicting ideas. I don't do big shoots like this (or even use talent) but I always prefer to go alone or with just one other person who "gets it" so they don't inadvertently get in the way.


It's a good suggestion to use different lenses and get different perspectives for all the potential possibilities.