When we launched our See The World In A New Light campaign earlier this year, we asked some of our closest supporters to share who inspired them most at the moment. Pei Ketron pointed us to fellow Bay Area photographer Nirav Patel, who turns seemingly every frame into a poem of texture and light – and composes with a reverence for structure and balance that hints at his background as civil engineer. Read our full Q&A with Nirav below.
Name: Nirav Patel
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA
Favorite place to photograph: Mount Tamalpais or anywhere along Highway One. I also love shooting in my home. A lot of my portrait photographs are actually taken in my house.
Bucket List destination: Japan & Switzerland.
Go-to gear: Canon 5D Mark IV for digital & Leica MP for film.
Thing you can’t live without: My faith.
Describe your aesthetic in five words or less: Quiet & Calm. My name coincidentally means quiet.
Biggest creative influence: This would easily have to be cinema. My favorite cinematographer is Chivo (Emmanuel Lubezki) whose work has inspired me tremendously.
What motivates you: The idea that the photographs I take are capturing memories that will be kept and shared for generations. I just want to create something meaningful that affects people in a positive way.
Biggest challenge: For the longest time, this has been work/life balance. It only got worse with social media as it had this ability to draw me in and I’d find myself lost for hours on end. Ultimately, I realized that NOTHING is more important to me than the relationships and people I love in my life. I put all my efforts in creating a plan to balance my work and family life so I could be present for my loved ones. It’s still a learning process but I feel I’m progressing well.
Time of day are you most creative: Mornings for sure.
One thing most people wouldn’t expect about you? I had no photography experience or background prior to 2009. I’m actually a licensed civil engineer. In the first few years of my career I worked with a company to design wineries in Napa Valley.
Mistake you’ve learned from: This goes back to work life/balance and social media. I spent too much time invested in things that are not important.
Work you are most proud of: The work I’m most proud of is a series called “The Great Blue World” which I’m continuously working on with my dear friend Meredith Adelaide. Our project statement: “We aim to create a sensitive visual collection that touches on the aspects of grief and loss. Eventually, we all begin to collect our own experiences, choosing to either sit with, bury, examine, or move through the powerful wave of thoughts and feelings that come with every story. Each experience helps shape our next, and together Nirav and I would like to offer a little solace to those who grieve; to share how very human it all is; to accept where we are within each facet of our individual developments; to quietly nod to each of you that we’ve been there, too; and to give ourselves a love that will remind us when, inevitably, we must experience it again, and again.”
Most recent “a-ha” moment: This happened when I went to see one of my favorite photographers, Sally Mann, speak in San Francisco. She talked a lot about intentionality and the “why” behind her photographs. I realized that my work should be driven by this intention to create something meaningful. This was actually the catalyst for the project with Meredith.
Dream project: Working on a film as a still photographer with Chivo or Terrence Malick.
Goal for 2017: Shoot things that make me uncomfortable.
Cats or dogs: Cat
Sweet or savory: Sweet.
Childhood celebrity crush: Demi Moore.
Favorite album: Jeff Buckley, Grace.
Most used phrase: “Oh snap”
Favorite book: More of a photo book but Alex Webb’s “The Suffering of Light.”
Earliest memory: Watching the Uttarayan Kite Festival in India with my parents when I was 2.
Hidden talent: I’m a musician. Love to play drums/guitar.