Shashi Patel / Member Interview

My name is Shashi Patel, and I’m 32 years old. I was born and raised in Dongitarai, Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, India. I have bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Raipur, but I am a professional fine arts photographer/retoucher. I took my first photo at the age of 11, when I was in boarding school, I purchased one Kodak Camera from my savings. The shot was of a papaya tree. In my youth, I would bring my camera on family vacations and take photos of country scenes, family member and insects. This practice continued when I took road trips out of the city and into the wilds of India, often accompanied by my friends and fellow photographers. As a photographer, I am a self-taught, learning mostly by trial and error.


Hyderabad, India

What inspired you to become a photographer?

During my teenage I clicked a few photographs of my friends. When they looked at it, it made them smile. They appreciated my pics. I felt happy from this appreciation and kept clicking. With every photo I clicked my interest to learn and to do more grew. This continued. So, I would say all the appreciations I got and the improvement I saw in myself, inspired me.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

H.O.P.E. hope is the name I gave to this photo. Before H.O.P.E., I clicked many good pics and when I got them printed they looked nice. So, I knew that I am good at it and people are appreciating me. But with H.O.P.E. came kind of appreciation I never got before. When you click a photo sometimes it happens that what you feel may not be the same as what others would. But I could clearly see that with H.O.P.E. I could generate the same feeling I had while clicking it, with whoever saw it.

Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?

When I started out, in an effort to take really good photos of people, I wanted to capture their expressions and feeling forever. To achieve this I was zooming in a lot, which only let me capture their facial expression more clearly rather than their whole body language. Every Time I thought I wanted to get full photo I didn’t satisfy me and I ended up zooming in again. This was a challenge. So, I looked at the work of other photographers how are they doing it, did a bit of self-learning and a few trials. Finally, I told myself until I get a really good full body photo, I am not zooming in. In a matter of days, I had overcome the challenge.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

I enjoy all forms of photography but out of that Fashion and Wildlife are my most favorite.

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

I was in one college and got opportunity to interact with college students. I shared my knowledge and experience with them. This made me feel proud that I have something that I can share with someone.

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

When I started my journey as a Photographer and I had a small set of equipment. I thought that it is limiting me to take great pictures. But, then I saw people getting better results than me with similar or lesser set of equipment. That made me realize, that I still lack something from the inside. So, I started investing time in learning and I kept trying until I got the very best shot that would satisfy me. Finally, it worked for me and I was able to get good pictures using the small set I had.

We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?

While I take photo, simultaneously I plan that how would I edit it. Sometimes when I come back and edit I am not able to get the same picture as I planned while taking it.

Finding time to get out and shoot is another challenge for many. How do you find the time in your busy schedule to get out there behind your camera?

I would say I am a bit lucky in this area. I have a good support from my friends and family. So, whenever we get time we plan and we have a group which ready to go. Sometimes if I am busy whole day, we plan to go out early in the morning like 4 or 5.

Nailing a composite right can be a challenge. What do you think the trick is to mastering composition?

I would say it is a field of Trial and Error, where you need to try many things and see what works out best. So, after sometime you would have tried enough to know what goes with what.

There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?

Don’t stop to get the better equipment and gear. Start clicking and finding credit in from what you have. At the same time start saving to upgrade yourself.

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

Now, when I look at a moment or situation or location I see it as I am seeing it behind my Camera. I have it with me I would definitely freeze it as a memory. Even if I don’t have my Camera I would still visualize, if taken a photograph how would it look.

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

Can’t say. But hard work is the only key of success.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

There are two things

  • I draw it from my own work. So that I do better than what I have already done.
  • I look at the work of others and keep that in my mind while taking a photograph.

What is your best photography related tip?

“A good photo is one which when one sees is awestruck”. Click something that you feel is right, don’t always bind yourself in rules.

What would you like for people take away from your work?

If one really has that desire to make their name, so even though they start small, with their hard work and learning they can grow big.

What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?

  • Body
  • Extra battery (fully charged)
  • Charger
  • Favorite Lens
  • Lens for the occasion
  • Laptop
  • Extra memory cards
  • Poly Bag (in rainy season)

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

The photographer’s eye, by Michael Freeman

Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?

  • Body - 5D Mark IV
  • Lens 1 - 50 mm
  • Lens 2 - 70-200 mm (f 2.8)
  • iPod
  • Laptop

We want you to be in the middle of the conversation.

Do you want to share your story