SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (KRON) — On Saturday afternoon, Jordan Jimenez stepped off the Warriors team charter, happy to plant his feet back on Bay Area soil after a whirlwind week capturing the NBA Finals in Boston. Sometimes Jimenez has to pinch himself. This is real. This is really his life.

Just four years ago, the San Bruno native dropped out of college. Jimenez had tried to go the traditional route to make his parents happy, pursuing a marketing degree at the University of San Francisco. But his heart wasn’t in it. 

At 20-years-old, with no formal training and not a penny to his name, Jimenez gave up academia to pursue photography. He knew making it in this field would be hard. He also knew that anything less than chasing his dreams would be worse than failure.

“The thing I love most about photography is helping people see a positive light in the world,” said Jimenez. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Jimenez didn’t want to photograph just anything though. He wanted to shoot basketball.

In lieu of the college life where free time for many is dedicated to partying with friends, Jimenez spent nights and weekends at gyms in every corner of the Bay Area, photographing AAU tournaments, youth basketball camps and workouts, oftentimes, for free. Jimenez worked every day to get better, made connections, and then one day he was in the right place at the right time. 

He met Steph Curry at an event in Oakland in 2019. And the rest is history.

“He’s an even greater human being. Super humble, super down to earth. As much as he is great on the court, luckily I’ve been able to see the side off the court that’s even greater,” said Jimenez, still in awe years later that he has a relationship with one of the greatest hoopers of all time.

Curry has become one of Jimenez’s regulars. His growing list of clients includes Bleacher Report, Slam Magazine, a host of professional athletes, and his number one customer turned best friend: Warriors guard Jordan Poole.  

The pair met when Poole was a rookie still struggling to find his way as a 20-year-old playing a man’s game. At the time, Jimenez was a 20-year-old budding NBA photographer, struggling to make a name for himself in an industry almost as competitive as the NBA. The parallels made for a fast friendship that only strengthened as both rose to the top.

“It’s the craziest thing just to see somebody who’s become one of your best friends really perform at the highest level,” Jimenez said. “That’s been an insane blessing. It’s all the things that we really talked about, we really manifested where we wanted to be. To see it really come to life it’s really a crazy experience. I’m super happy for him.”

Poole is wrapping up the best season of his career, averaging more than 18 points per game as a key piece of this Warriors team that is now one win away from an NBA championship.

Jimenez also exploded on the national scene during the 2021-22 season, capturing Steph Curry moments after one of his signature no-look threes. The photo went viral, garnering millions of likes while being featured on almost every major sports outlet around the U.S. and even the world.

“I never expected it to blow up the way it did. Because to be honest it’s not my best photo, what it really was is Steph being Steph. Like I said, that guy is a god. For him to do things like that that he does, it’s just him being him, that’s why it went viral.”

Jimenez deflects any praise when asked about his now trademark shot, but make no mistake, anyone who sees his work will tell you he has a gift.

The 24-year-old has been following Warriors throughout the 2022 postseason, documenting moments big and small, on and off the court. The trip to Boston for games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals thanks to Poole is just the latest first for the rising star. 

“For me it’s kind of a surreal experience, especially being around all these super talented people. Just being in a building [TD Garden] with such a rich history, being able to experience that and just have all of the years that I’ve done, all the 7, 8 years I’ve been doing for photography to have that really come to fruition and to see all my friends compete at the highest level – it’s a blessing for sure and it’s really humbling,” said Jimenez.

Shooting an NBA championship seems like it would be a peak for most photographers. For Jimenez, it’s just the beginning.

“Once I get to a different level I’ll be able to put on black and brown creatives who don’t get to the same rooms as me. My main goal is to make a difference in people’s lives,” Jimenez says of his big-picture aspirations. “Really believe in yourself. Because we’re all gifted in some sort of way and we all have some sort of talent to share with the world.”

Bigger than basketball, and bigger than photography, Jimenez’ says his ultimate “pinch me” moment will come when he can use his talents to open doors for others. And that kind of character is something college can’t teach.