Meet Nirav Patel - Photographer and Visionary

Learn about Nirav's journey to translate emotions into color and light
Meet Nirav Patel – Photographer and Visionary
Image by Nirav Patel

Today we’re excited to share more about Nirav Patel. Nirav is an incredible photographer based in Santa Rosa, California who has been an inspiration to us for years. The way he sees light unparalleled and is deeply cinematic. Nirav’s way of photographing the world is so profoundly larger-than-life that we knew we wanted to create a LUT pack that could work in collaboration with his coloring and his outlook on life.

We created the Lotus LUT pack in order to help embody the things that Nirav sees. In Lotus, the colors are deep and rich, but what’s even more deep is what is unspoken. In this interview, hear about why Nirav sees the world in the way he does. He goes beyond colors and speaks to the emotions and feelings that lie beneath the surface of his images.

We hope this interview with Nirav is an inspiration, both in his story, but also in thinking more deeply about the subtexts a film can contain—both in color, emotion, and cinematography.

Meet Nirav Patel – Photographer and Visionary

Gamut:Hey Nirav! Can you tell us more about what led you into photography over the years?

Nirav: My name is Nirav Patel. I was born in Ahmedabad, India and moved to the states with my family at the age of two. I studied to become a Civil Engineer in college and ended up working for a company that designed wineries for 4 years before being laid off in the economic downturn (2009). It was during this time that I found my passion for photography. After looking through my parents wedding photos, I realized how amazing and important the preservation of memories is. So I bought a small point and shoot digital camera and started learning.

My love for photography grew and soon became an obsession. In early 2010, I found another engineering position. Given the state of the economy, I literally was thinking that I would be retiring there. But each day, I couldn’t focus because all I wanted to do was pour myself into learning photography. Six months into this new position, I realized how much I would regret not trying to make photography work

Iceland Imagery by Nirav Patel - Lotus LUTs by Gamut

G: Color is, obviously, hugely important for us here at Gamut, but you really see things a bit differently. For you, color is important, but it seems to be important because of what it evokes. What are some things that you want to evoke with you how grade your images?

N: I use light to isolate and share the quiet moments that I see. Most of my compositions are based on lighting more-so than environment/backdrop. [Light] brings me a sense of quiet and makes me feel at ease (my name actually means “quiet”). The images I make give me a sense of calm and make me feel present.

I believe there are two states based on personal experiences. First, there’s loneliness. A feeling like you are the only one that seems to be capable of understanding your own thoughts and actions. I believe it is a saddened state of mind when you yearn for attention or company but can’t find acceptance.  I don’t necessarily feel like you have to physically be alone to feel loneliness. Even when others accept you, you can still feel disconnected and unable to relate causing a mental state of isolation. The other state being solitude.  One of which you find peace and joy in being on your own. As a young boy, I experienced both. When I learned to be at peace while being on my own, it unlocked a new world for me. From that point on, no matter where I went, I saw the world in a simplified, calm, and quiet way.  Even in the most complex environments, I could see the calm and quiet moments making me feel at ease with being on my own. 

G: There seems to be a deep sense of loneliness—hurt perhaps—that inspired some of these experiences for you. Are you willing to share more what these “quiet moments” meant to you or how they have shaped you?

N: My love for quiet moments started when I was seven years old. I lived in a tough neighborhood, which drove me to find shelter in a self-made sanctuary. I placed a large red tent on my bed and surrounded it with a moat of blankets and toys. Here I was safe from the rocks thrown through our windows and the neighborhood turbulence. Soon my imagination soared as loneliness drifted away and I found the comfort of solitude. When I started shooting I realized that I was actually using light to isolate quiet moments within chaotic scenes. I was using light as a tool to share/recreate the feeling and environment of being in my room when I was a young boy. This isn’t something I just picked up on, but it took me a  while to even realize what it is I was doing. I had found my voice.

G: I know I have ideas of how I would describe your work, but how do you describe your visual language?

N: I would describe it as emotive portraiture with a focus on capturing quiet moments—the moments in which I found comfort during the turbulent times in my life.

Interview Continued Below

Emotive Portrait by Nirav Patel - Lotus LUTs by Gamut

The Great Blue World

The Great Blue World

Nirav Patel, in collaboration with Meredith Adelaide, released The Great Blue World. The book features imagery and word from the collaborative series with the same name by artists Nirav Patel and Meredith Adelaide.

Purchase Now

G: Do you have people that inspire you visually in film or photography?

N: Emotionally, I’m inspired by life experiences. Visually, I’m inspired by thoughtfully crafted cinematography.

Most of my work has been influenced by films/movies both from a compositional standpoint as well as storytelling.  My favorite cinematographer is Emmanuel Lubezki (Chivo) because of his innovative approaches as well as how he’s able to bring you directly into the mindset of a particular person or character in a film.  His beautiful use of natural light has also been such an inspiration to see. My favorite photographers are Jack Davison, Vivian Maier, Sally Mann, and Todd Hido.

Portrait of Beth Kirby (Local Milk) by Nirav Patel - Lotus LUTs by Gamut

Portrait of Beth Kirby (Local Milk) by Nirav Patel

G: A lot of people see your work and think: “I will never be that good.” What would you say to someone who is experiencing self-doubt as an artist and trying to make things work out?

N: I always share the same quote.  It was the quote that pushed me to quit my job as an engineer and pursue photography.   It’s a quote by Eric Roth and was featured in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late… to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

G: As an artist, and a human, we have to balance so much of the ‘sacred and the profane.’ The things that are dear to us, but also the things that we must do because we are human. You seem so intentional in your approach to creativity—what are the most important things in your life? What (and how) do you know what to  sacrifice?

N: These are a few questions I’ve asked myself time and time again. For me, there’s nothing more important than God, my family, and friends. Everything else can come and go, but I don’t ever want to lose sight of those things. I keep that very thought in my mind before making any decisions. Think about the things that are important to you and how the choices you make affects them. This is really one of the most important things I can share.

Below, you can see a short reel of the Lotus LUT Pack in action

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