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
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