Square Shooter, the Best of Instagram: Filmmaker and Climber Jim Hurst

Filmmaker Jim Hurst’s work takes him from his home in southwestern Colorado, where he used to coach climbing with Lynn

Jim Hurst portrait

Filmmaker Jim Hurst’s work takes him from his home in southwestern Colorado, where he used to coach climbing with Lynn Hill, to far-flung locales like the Midway Atoll in the Northern Pacific and shell-riddled Bosnia. When he’s not shooting in some exotic spot, he’s often climbing with and shooting photos of his friend, climber, and aerialist Dean Potter in Yosemite or the American Southwest. And his Instagram account lets you travel right along with him.

“With photography in general, I like to capture what’s actually happening, versus trying to control the situation,” Hurst says. “The image can be nice [when you manipulate it], but I’m more interested in capturing a moment in a way that shows what’s really happening.” Inspired by the late climber Charlie Fowler’s Himalayan photography, Hurst has been shooting in earnest for 15 years, and also specializes in field audio recording.

Jim Hurst 1

“I saw that recently on the big island on Hawaii. I just happened to be out and have camera with me. Right about that time, this fisherman started climbing down, and to get to that spot, I had to get chest deep, and every time a wave came, I had to hold my camera up to keep it from getting wet. It was like $5,000 worth of camera gear. But it shows, if you show up and wait and try hard, every once in a while it pays off.”


Jim Hurst 2

“Dean believes in himself and his judgment of the rock. This shot is 2,600 feet up off the ground near the top of El Cap. It makes me think about what we believe in. That the rock isn’t going to break, that he believes in himself. I’m on a fixed rope, using ascenders to stay out of the way. The trick is to be so careful not to disturb the climber, either emotionally or physically.”


Jim Hurst 3

“This was right between sunset and a full moon coming up on right of El Cap, with the left side still in the sunset. It was a long exposure, and with the even lighting on either side, the shadows that are normally there aren’t there.”


Jim Hurst 4

“This is Himay Palmer, in Ophir, Colorado. He skis almost 300 days a year around Telluride. He doesn’t smoke marijuana. Every year there’s the Mountains to The Desert fundraiser ride. He raises a bunch of money each year for local charities.”


Jim Hurst 5

“This was taken in New York on the Delaware River. That’s Grace Guglielmone, my girlfriend’s niece, and her brother, Dan Guglielmone. My cousin has a reputation for doing crazy things with them, and I go to make sure they do it safely.”


Jim Hurst 6

“I was struck by the idea of erosion when I took this. Specifically, water-based erosion. I was trying to make something 3-D. Little canyons being made in the rock, in the background the valley with half dome, and then on the top are the clouds. It was last March. I just got lucky to get blue sky and watched for about an hour for this shot from the top El Cap.”


Jim Hurst 9

“This is the California Central Valley. A friend of mine, photographer Ben Knight, was working on the film Damnation, and I wanted to make sure he had some of those signs in his film.”


Jim Hurst 10

“That was the first ever BASE line. He has a parachute on, and I was there shooting for Sender Films. At the time, I was doing video but had the still camera in my hand. It was just outside Moab.”


Jim Hurst 12

“This was in Serbia. I kind of feel like that country has spent a lot of its time, money, and resources worrying about race and purity of their race, and on war. As a result, the road is like this. They’re not dealing with realities.”


Jim Hurst 13

“I was recording sound for the film Damnation. And I can’t give you a location because we were trespassing. But the sound in there was really cool. It was one of those moments where I had a microphone out, and then had to get my iPhone out to take a shot.”


Jim Hurst 14

“I was in Nepal helping out with a promo film for an NGO called One Heart Worldwide that provides pre- and post-natal care, and I ran into this guy who was walking somewhere like 30 to 50 kilometers. And he was just having a great day.”



Contributing editor Hilary Oliver lives in Denver and blogs at The Gription.
Showing 5 comments
  • CJ

    Do you have a link to his Instagram account? Can’t seem to find it in the article, or online… unless I’m missing something. Thanks!

  • Bobby D

    Link to insty account please

  • buff

    I thought that serbian bridge was dingman’s bridge on the delaware. the same could be said about this country too hun. nice photos jim.

  • Jay Long

    Great stuff. From the female on the rope swing to half-dome at a distance, I cannot decide which is my favorite. Photography helps to make the world a better place.

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