The Chin family travels the world capturing some of life’s most precious moments in nature.
Photography captures memories. Special moments that are almost impossible to reproduce.
Horizon West resident Wei-Shen Chin found his love for photography unexpectedly.
Chin was writing for a paper in Cleveland at his college in the early 1980s, when his editor asked him to begin to take photographs for some of the stories.
Although Chin knew how to use a camera, photography was never something he pursued.
On Sept. 1, 1983, Soviet jet fighters intercepted a Korean Airlines passenger flight in Russian airspace and shot the plane down, killing 269 passengers and crew members.
Chin said the Korean students on campus went ballistic, burning an effigy of the Soviet Premier on campus right in front of the student center.
“I photographed that, and it ran on the front page,” he said. “My goal was to get people to look at the paper, so I wanted to put a dramatic photo on the front rather than what they were previously running, which was all print.”
That’s when everything changed.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM
Chin was in the paper’s office when he got a call from Ron Kuntz.
Kuntz, a veteran news and sports photographer, asked Chin if he could run his photo of the incident on the wire service for $60. Chin, still on a college budget, said yes.
A month or two later, Chin was covering a Greek festival on campus, where students put together beds with wheels and raced down the quad as they fell apart. The photo ran on the front page. Kuntz called again.
The third time Kuntz called, it was to offer Chin a summer job with United Press International to cover professional sports.
“When he asked me, I said, ‘What do you mean work? Write?’ and he said, ‘No to photograph,”’ Chin said. “I told him honestly that I had no experience photographing, and he volunteered to teach me. That was my break.”
Over the next few years, Chin photographed the Cleveland Indians baseball team, professional football, politics, NASCAR racing, weddings and more.
He finished college and attended medical school, and although he never pursued photography, he said it always stayed with him.
Chin is now the president of Medical Center Radiology Group in Orlando and the CEO of Chin Track Days, a leading provider of non-competition track events for sports car enthusiasts.
He married his wife, Lynn, and they have three children, Lauren, 14, Nicole, 12, and Matthew, 10.
When the coronavirus pandemic began, Chin said he and his family had to get creative and find ways to get out of the house.
That’s when he started shooting birds.
“The different configurations that they can have and the way they fly, there are just so many different kinds of birds,” Chin said. “You have everything from kingfishers to blue herons and it’s all right here in Florida, and most people don’t even know it.”
Chin said the most important thing in bird photography isn’t the image but rather the behavior.
“If you don’t understand what the bird does, you’re not going to get a good picture of it,” he said. “You’ll end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you’ll miss that perfect second of a shot. The birds don’t wait for you.”
Chin explained most wildlife photography is spent waiting.
“The best camera to use is the one you have ready and turned on,” he said, laughing.
Chin knows these tips from personal experience.
He has traveled across the world expanding his photography skills and working to improve.
He traveled to Alaska for bald eagles, explored the Grand Canyon’s sunsets, captured the northern lights, glacial blue icebergs in Iceland and more.
Chin is a semifinalist in the Nature’s Best Photography international awards and has been asked to lecture and put together showcases of his work.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Now, he is passing on his knowledge to his children.
In March, Chin began to teach his kids the basics of photography through at-home classes and photography trips.
The siblings started small and used learning techniques such as abbreviations for terms such as depth of field (DOF) and even named the cameras, including one named Sam, so they don’t have to say the model every time.
“I love the creative aspect of photography,” Lauren said. “There is always more to learn and you can constantly grow and get better.”
In less than a year, the siblings already are making their name known. The children won 10 of the 15 places in the Audubon 2021 Chertok Photo Competition youth division, including a first-place award for one of Matthew’s images.
“That’s why I’m so proud of them; I don’t think people understand how hard it is to get these shots,” Chin said. “They think you just stand there, and all of a sudden, a bird comes and does exactly what you want it to do.”
Although photography is something to be enjoyed, the Chin family explained it is important for residents to keep their local wildlife in mind as they go about their day.
“It’s disheartening to go to a park and see plastic cups in the water and trash thrown on the grass,” Chin said. “It’s dangerous to the animals, so conservation is also a huge part in our education.”
He said one of his favorite parts of photography is not only the memory he captures in the image, but the memories he makes with his family in the creation.
“Now, I do this more as a hobby I love and as something I can share with the people I love, like my family,” Chin said. “I get to make wonderful images that people can enjoy and learn from, and that’s really the true purpose behind my passion.”
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