This story is part of a content partnership and media exchange between Neocha and VSCO. VSCO’s membership program is designed to help you reach your creative potential. Take the next step in your creative journey by starting your free 7-day trial today and gain access to the complete VSCO preset library, the newest editing tools, and inspiring educational content.
Nirav Patel is a portrait photographer based in San Francisco, California. In Sanskrit, nirav means quiet—a fitting name for a man drawn to capturing moments of stillness. By molding light, he creates a sense of calm and solitude, regardless of the turbulence and volatility around him.
VSCO: A lot of your portraits are taken by windows. What about this combination are you drawn to?
Nirav Patel: I’m mainly a natural light photographer, so it’s instinctual for me to start searching for a portrait location based primarily on lighting. When I’m shooting in an indoor environment, a window is typically a good place to start. Once I have the light, then I move to the next phase, which involves modifying the light or environment. Lately I’ve been challenging myself by adding my own light sources, things like old slide projectors or lamps.
Nirav Patel: 我主要是一个自然光摄影师，我会本能上地基于光源去寻找拍摄的位置。当我在室内环境中拍摄时，窗边通常是一个很好的地点。一旦得到了好的光，我就会进入下一阶段，去进一步调整光线或是周围环境。最近我一直在挑战自己，通过增设自己的光源，像是旧的幻灯片放映机或是灯具。
VSCO: What do you look for when you’re shooting portraits?
Nirav Patel: I typically know what the image will look like before I even take it. When I see the world, I see it in exposures, and that has helped me when shooting with natural light. When I’m walking around a space trying to find the best spots to take a portrait, I always look for light over environment. The backdrop isn’t my main priority.
Nirav Patel: 我通常在拍摄之前就会预先知道照片的样子。当我在看这个世界时，我是以“光”的角度去看的。这种视角帮助了我采取自然光拍摄。当我在一个空间中走动寻找最佳拍摄地点，我总是在环境中寻找最好的光线，背景并不是我主要考虑的东西。
VSCO: How do you build on a theme, while keeping each image unique?
Nirav Patel: I do my best to use new locations or backdrops, as well as modify the lighting in different ways with what’s available (fabrics, blinds, etc). This really helps to change the way the light is represented and can affect the overall feel of an image. I’ll also try using different lenses or shoot through different props, like a piece of glass.
For me, it’s about understanding the technical aspects of making a photograph and then throwing the rules out the window. Not everything works out all the time, but you learn so much from the process. I’ve had to teach myself that I only really fail if I give up before trying. Anything that happens after trying should be seen as a learning experience that leads to the growth and development of my vision. I’m not always happy about the results I achieve, but I do understand that it’s all part of the journey.
Nirav Patel: 我会尽我所能地使用新的位置或背景，以及用不同的方式修饰光线（利用布料、百叶窗等等）。这确实有助于改变灯光的表现方式，并可以影响图像的整体氛围。我也会尝试使用不同的镜头和拍摄道具，比如说一块玻璃。
VSCO: To capture a quiet mood, what time of day do you prefer to shoot?
Nirav Patel: Most of the shoots I do are inside of Airbnb’s or my own home. I do my best to work with whatever I have, so I try to make the best of lighting throughout the entire day. However, my favorite light would have to be close to and just past sunset (aka golden hour and blue hour). These two times of the day typically give me both dramatic and soft lighting in the best ways.
Nirav Patel: 大部分的拍摄都会在 Airbnb 或是自己家里进行。我会尽可能地利用手边现有的素材，并试着在一天之中充分利用光线。然而，我最喜欢的时刻是接近日落、或是刚刚过日落时（又称为黄金时刻或是蓝色时刻）。一天中的这两个时候通常可以提供给我最具戏剧效果和柔和优美的光线。
VSCO: How do you experiment with adding drama to your portraits?
Nirav Patel: I’ve always been drawn to fog because it has a cinematic quality to it. Most of my work is inspired by movies, so I decided to add my own elements of moviemaking into my photographs. Sometimes I use a smoke machine to add drama. I recently added two continuous light kits to my set up just in case there is nothing interesting happening with the natural light. I have a Lowell ID light, as well an Aputure LS-mini 20d. I’m hoping to also add an Aputure 120d to the set sometime soon for a bit more power and the ability to use Bowen light modifiers for more control. Look at me… talking like I actually know what I’m doing. Don’t let me fool you, I’ve just recently been getting into setup lighting kits and am learning as I go. I enjoy the pace of teaching myself through trial and error.
Nirav Patel: 我一直都很喜欢雾，它拥有电影般的质感。我的大多作品都受到电影启发，因此我会在照片中加入许多电影元素。有时候我会使用烟雾机来增加戏剧性。我最近增设了两组电影灯光，以防自然光的呈现效果太无趣。我有一个 Lowell ID 灯、以及 Aputure LS-mini 20d。我希望不久后能再加一个 Adure 120d 来增强我的设备，和 Bowen 柔光罩以获得更完善的功能。不过……别听我这样说，就以为我真的知道我在做什么。我才刚刚进入打灯的领域，我正在学习。我喜欢这样通过错误和反复尝试的学习过程。