Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment


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.

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

Topics include: Develop a System • Start Building a Collection of Series • Whittle Down Your Series • The Five-Star Edit: Pick Your Final Images • Organizational Best Practices


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Jimmy Chin

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

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