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Photographer Interview Series: Landscape photographer Jay Patel

Jay Patel
Jay Patel

Jay Patel is a landscape and nature photographer from the United States where he, along with his wife run Visual Wilderness. They're photography educators as well, offering books and online courses on digital workflow, composition, country specific location shooting and much more. He thought about turning his passion into a business on many occasions, but as I'm sure you can relate, was always fearful of leaving the security of a stable job and a regular income. He did however, overcome that fear and aptly states that knowing what he knows now, would have done it a lot sooner.

I would have started my photography career earlier. We are all held back from chasing our dreams because of fear of failure and added weight of responsibility…. and some of us never take that leap of faith

Jay Patel

And so begins a short discussion with professional photographer Jay Patel.

But first, I thought it prudent to share with you a short video that shows Jay and Varina Patel in action, in the field, and the lengths they go to in order to get their shots. I watched this and simply HAD to share it with you.

Who or what was your biggest influence in photography and why?
My interest in landscape photography developed as a result of my extensive travel experience during my teenage years. Unlike other photographers I was not influenced by a big name photographers when I first started out. However as time went on, Varina Patel had the biggest influence on my work. Her style of photography is very different from mine and over time my portfolio has shots that looks like they come from Varina's gallery.
What's your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
Ha!! There is nothing like getting a wake-up call and finding out that you are completely clueless about landscape photography. And this is exactly what happened to me back in 2001.

Punch Bowl Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon (OR), USA

What is your biggest success or thing you're most proud of?
Hmm…I don't know how to respond to that. I think I am most proud of the fact that I have made successful transition from a full time high paying tech career to running a highly successful Landscape Photography business.

After being laid off from work in October 2013, Varina encouraged me to make a transition to a full time landscape photography career. After few months of uncertainty all our hard work paid off and we were more than able to replace the lost income of my corporate career. The only question that remains to be answered is this: Why didn't I do this sooner?

What's your one “can't live without it” piece of gear?
I am a firm believer that gear should not limit your photography. So, the best piece of gear that I own is the one that I am carrying with me when I am wandering around in the wilderness.

Sure you may be limited by technical specs of a cheap camera, but your creativity should allow you to come away with photos that you are proud off. I am sure that some of you will disagree with me on this point…but just remember that great photographs have been taken long before digital camera and Photoshop were invented. So, there should be no reason why a simple smart phone camera can't do the same.

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Your favourite image you've ever taken and why?
This changes every few months. But considering that I answered the above question with saying that equipment should not matter… here is an old favorite of mine taken with a Canon D30 (Canon's first dSLR…and NOT Canon 30D). The camera had a lousy dynamic range, a small 1/8 inch view finder and poor high ISO performance. I used a simple soft GND (graduated neutral density) filter to capture this image….it was by far one of the best sunrises I had seen.

Glacier Canon D30 Jay Patel

Your favourite image from another photographer and why?
Kilauea Lava Flow, Big Island - Hawaii, USAHere is one by Varina Patel because it is just too HOT!! Photographing Lava has many challenges including just finding the right time and place. Superb execution, stunning colors and great details puts this image over the top.
What one thing can then viewers do right now to improve their photography?
Learn to get it right in the camera. With easy access to the dSLRs, presets and post processing software some photographers often rely on the philosophy “I will fix it in Photoshop”. While there is nothing wrong with this philosophy it can limit your time and creativity in the field. So, while I am an expert at Photoshop, I often force myself to get it right in the camera when I can.
Jokulsarlon, Iceland
If you could do it all over again would do anything differently? Photographically or life wise?
I would have started my photography career earlier. We are all held back from chasing our dreams because of fear of failure and added weight of responsibility…. and some of us never take that leap of faith. I am glad to have made the transition to full time photographer career and if I had to do it over again, I would do it sooner.

More on the Patels

In another post, Jay shares a story about how he first became involved in photography and Varina will share her thoughts in an interview I do with her too. Jay and Varina travel the world capturing landscapes and nature like no one else. They are skilled photographers and I'm grateful for being able to share their photography insights with you.

Ultimate Landscape Photography Course

By using this discount code dpm-24f34df you can take advantage of a 33% savings on the Ultimate Landscape Photography Course.

Watch the video trailer below to see the quality of their landscape video tutorial.

It's an in depth course for photographers who want to capture the beauty in nature. If you're at all interested in becoming a better landscape photographer, learning from the Patels should be high on your list of educational resources. Everything they do is great. Check it out yourself.

Photographer Interview Series

See what makes professional photographers tick, learn about their favorite images and their greatest failures as well as their greatest successes. Check out others in this series below:


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