“I’m probably a climbing bum and a ski bum at heart,” Chin tells Mashable. “I love being in the mountains. I find a lot of peace, creativity and space.”
During his years at Carleton College in Minnesota, Chin immersed himself in the climbing culture. Instead of taking an internship in Washington, D.C. one summer, he opted to travel to Glacier National Park so he could work and climb. Decisions like these weren’t popular with Chin’s traditional parents, who preferred that he focus on becoming a doctor, lawyer or businessman.
After graduating with a degree in Asian studies, Chin lived out of his car for an astounding seven years, self-funding three expeditions to Pakistan to climb Karakoram. During those trips, Chin documented the harsh conditions and breathtaking views with his camera.
His images caught the eye of many in the alpining community, including North Face mountaineer Conrad Anker. It was rare then — as it is today — to find a deft climber who was also a striking photographer. Normally, a photographer attached to a cragging party is more of a burden than a boon, holding up the rest of the professional hikers in life-or-death situations.
Chin, on the other hand, could pull off expert maneuvers and wield his camera in compromising positions. His dexterity and strength mean he’s able to capture on-mountain moments that even the most talented photographer wouldn’t have access to. “Athletes in the mountains are functioning at a world-class level, but nobody sees what they’re doing because they’re off in the middle of nowhere,” Chin says. “My goal is to shoot photos that people have never seen before.”