Design, Photography, & Fashion


Jimmy Chin

Lesson time 17:14 min

Using the photos captured on the shoot with Conrad, Jimmy teaches you his process for sifting through hundreds of images to find the best few for his narrative.

Jimmy Chin
Teaches Adventure Photography
National Geographic photographer teaches his techniques for planning, capturing, and editing breathtaking photos.
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JIMMY CHIN: Editing is a big part of the creative process. Basically, you are taking this entire shoot and trying to get it to the very, very best images that you've shot. I think it's important to have kind of a system that you can always go back to because that means that you aren't skipping any steps. So you have kind of a series of protocol that you follow. For me, a good editing process is also being really efficient, when you have a system you can just go back and always do it the same way and know you're not missing any steps. So the first thing that we do, which is clearly very important, is we ingest all of the material and we back it up on several drives to make sure that, you know, if something crashes or if you lose something, you always have a backup. I like everything at least triple backed up. Obviously, if, you know, one system fails, there's some redundancy. Oftentimes after a big shoot, you know, we split the drives up. Everything-- there's three drives. They're traveling with different people, and everybody knows that, you know, they've got a set of backed up assets. From there, I have Sam do essentially a one-star edit. Our whole process goes from one-star edit to a five-star edit. I've tried to skip steps in that, and I found that, in the end, it's always just a better edit if I go through one, two, three, four, to a five-star edit. A one-star edit, for me, means that Sam is basically taking out anything that isn't going to work. Isn't in focus. Body positions aren't right. The eyes are closed. The exposures are just completely off. In general, I've found that our ratio is about 50/50. So if, you know, I shot a thousand images, the one-star edit often comes down to 500 images. On our shoot, we started with around 800 images, and our one-star edit was 350 images. So Sam's one-star edit is essentially all the usable frames. Personally, I take all the unusable frames that he has not marked one-star and I throw them out, just for storage. And, you know, if they're not usable, they're not usable. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now that I have my one-star edit, you know, this is the kind of first time I'm really looking at the work that I've shot. This is really the first time I'm like kind of examining everything, looking at what types of series of images I have, the options I gave myself while I was shooting, different focal lengths, maybe different exposures, maybe different aperture settings, and looking at, you know, kind of different categories of shots that I have. By the time I get through my two-star, I have kind of a collection of series. So in my three-star, I'm looking to kind of refine each series. By the time I'm done with my three-star, you know, I probably don't want more than five images in each series to look at. Then, I'm getting into the four-star. The four star edit is definitely where you're making harder decisions. You're taking probably five images down to two or three images. That's where, you know...

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.

though i am not an adventure photographer I found Jimmy's life info very interesting and is transferable to all forms of not only photography but life dreams and ambitions have to want it be prepared years of this dedication too be ready when that "break" comes and being able to recognize that does come in whatever form and putting your whole self into it and enjoy the ride thanks Jimmy.

Fascinating story. I am an amateur photographer and have admired Jimmy Chen's work for many years.

Thank you Jimmy Chin. Excellent Advice, Tips & wonderful approach to photography and self-development 10/10!

Very motivational story! I think this was more inspirational, and a highlight of the mindset it takes to be a master photographer. I thought it would be a little heavier on the technical aspects of Jimmy's photography, but you can find this information elsewhere. Thank you for the great class :)


A fellow student

Do you delete all of the not 5 star images at the end? Or keep 100% of everything?

Teresa T.

I've had a lot of troubles downloading the workbooks. Sometimes I can't download anything no matter what I do, and then all of a sudden I can download everything. Right now, I'm back to I can't download anything. Very frustrating.

Ricardo A.

I just started using the 5 Star system recently, after being a Flag system user and I don't know how I went so long without it. For me, it has make the edit process way easier.

Jim C.

Why was there no mention of the spots on the images? Dust on lens or sensor needs cleaning. I realize that manipulation wasn’t the focus of this lesson but a mention, a “we’ll fix that in the manipulation part of the process,” would have been nice. But I’m a little compulsive. Sensor spots usually more noticeable in sky shots. Found it gratifying that we do some of the same things. I back up my images to two separate drives. One of which I keep off sight. I worry that far into the future, there will be no images from our time period as all the digital images will degrade, the storage units will be unreadable, the files will take antique equipment to read. Think about trying to play a VCR tape now. I’m also not a big fan of storing things only on “the cloud.” There can be equipment failure on their end, or they can just go out of business overnight. My editing process after a shoot: ▪ Upload images ▪ Convert my RAW files to DNG files and name them using my naming method (I convert to DNG because they are a universal format and not proprietary to a camera manufacturer.) ▪ After making sure I have the images uploaded and viewable, I format my camera card so it will be ready for my next shoot and not have things from previous shoot on it. ▪ I open the folder with Adobe Bridge. Select all images and use the tools to Append the Metadata with a preset with copyright, contact info and perhaps tags if when I use that particular preset it has normal tags. ▪ I will then open all the images in bridge and go through and do a quick culling of images that are out of focus etc. ▪ Finally I go through and rate images with stars.


I enjoy learning how Jimmy has a very meticulous way to go through his FIVE-star editing process. Very useful!

Alex M.

I know each photographer has their own style to sort and chose images, but this would take way too long for me. Check out Photomechanc. You can ingest, rename the file, add meta date & keywords whilst saving to multiple locations.

stasia P.

I tried to think like Jimmy and see if I knew which pictures he was going to pick. I was surprised at how many he chose that I also chose. Does that mean I would be a good editor? I think it is much easier to edit when you have vision, passion and mission all mixed into one equation. I enjoyed learning what his process is.


Not sure why to put date into the title of the shot since that is part of the metadata. I don't rename, but I know I should. Other ideas?

Dewald B.

Love the class so far - priceleess 👌🏼 Haha, dirty lens though? Lesson 1 (or 2 or 3?) and those back caps :p Glad to know it happens to even the best :)

Rob J.

This was the best chapter so far for me as it felt like we got some good practical advice.