Break the Rules: An Interview with Landscape Photographer Varina Patel
Varina Patel is a freelance wilderness and landscape photographer. She is drawn to the challenge of finding her next photograph and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively. Her photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world. She teaches landscape photography and processing along with her husband and colleague, photographer Jay Patel.
BL: What is your photographic specialty and how did you become interested in it?
Patel: I am a wilderness and nature photographer. I love brilliant light, minimalist compositions, and macro photography but as long as I can shoot outdoors I’m happy. I started shooting as a kid and learned to develop film in a darkroom in middle school. By the time I reached high school, I knew I wanted to go pro and I did so in 2005.
BL: How long have you been teaching and/or writing about photography and how would you describe your teaching/writing style?
Patel: I’ve been writing eBooks, and teaching on-location workshops and classroom seminars since about 2006. When I’m teaching in a classroom or on location, I am very hands-on. In my eBooks, I provide lots of examples and explain the thought process behind the workflow. I try to simplify concepts and share lots of tips and tricks to make even the most complicated workflow accessible to everyone who wants to learn.
BL: What is your single most depended on photographic item aside from your camera?
BL: What type of gear, new or old, are you most interested in experimenting with?
Patel: I am open to just about anything. I love trying new gear and new ideas and techniques. That’s a big part of what makes photography so interesting to me. I will never run out of new challenges!
BL: Describe what prompted or inspired you to create your eBooks?
Patel: When I speak, people have so many great questions but there’s never enough time to answer them all. Writing eBooks lets me share what I know even if I can’t be there with you face-to-face. I love to teach and writing eBooks is an extension of what I can do in a classroom or in the field.
BL: What are some additional resources that you recommend to others getting started in photography?
Patel: The internet is an amazing resource. You can start on my blog and in the Learn section of my website. There you’ll find tons of free tips and tutorials, questions and answers, videos, reviews, and so much more.
BL: In what ways do you expect readers to improve after reading your eBooks?
Patel: My goal when I write is to help my students feel more confident with their own photography. I try to make sure that every page provides information and inspiration.
BL: What is something YOU learned during the process of making this eBook?
Patel: I learn something from every book I write. I research everything extensively, of course, but I also learn a lot from sharing my own experiences. I think that teaching is the best way to learn.
BL: There are a lot of little rules in photography, such as the Rule of Thirds and the Inverse Square Law. Describe a photography “rule” that you use the most or find most valuable.
Patel: My favorite rule is this one: “It’s ok to break the rules.”
BL: Anything new on the horizon that you are working on, either photography-wise or eBook-wise?
Patel: We always have a lot going on. In the next twelve months, we’ll be teaching in Hawaii, Nicaragua, Canada, and the UK. We are also currently working on yet another eBook and we have a whole collection of other ideas in the works!