Fine art photographer Mital Patel also could be called a professional international traveler, having visited more than 200 cities in 40 countries, spanning 18 time zones. He takes three or four expeditions each year in his quest to capture the global beauty many of us never get to see. “Travel is part of my passion—to see the world and document it so it can be admired in others’ homes,” he says.
Although based in Dallas, where he has focused on nature and wildlife photography for the past decade, Patel spends a lot of time traveling—and much more time patiently waiting for just the right photo opportunity. It’s impossible to rush Mother Nature or her creatures, so Patel must camp, watch and wait until the moment is right to capture a moody landscape or the movement of the wildlife he is tracking.
His most recent collection, Majestic Creatures, catalogues his East African trip last summer across three vast land masses in Kenya known for wildlife sightings: Lumo Community Wildlife Conservancy; Maasai Mara, which is highly ranked for wildlife viewing and where Patel photographed many lions; and Amboseli National Park, famous for its 1,500 free-ranging elephants and views of Mount Kilimanjaro across the border in Tanzania. The result is a series of nine limited-edition framed fine art prints of giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, wildebeests and zebras in their natural habitats, going about their daily routines. Patel stayed in Kenya for two weeks, with full days that began before sunrise and ended after sunset, bouncing across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and watching and waiting for the perfect photo opportunity.
“You begin to understand the animals’ daily cycles, such as how the elephants emerge each morning in their large herd of extended family members to search for food and water. The cycles continue day in and day out, and you get a sense of being with them and understanding them,” Patel says. “One of the most satisfying feelings on earth is seeing wildlife in its natural habitat.” The trek of one family of elephants is expressed in the photo Pilgrimage, part of the Majestic Creatures collection.
Although Patel previously traveled to Africa several times, his intention for this latest expedition was to create a new collection of artwork showcasing distinguishing moments of animals in motion that he experienced during his immersion in the wilderness. While especially focused on photographing elephants, he tracked daily migrations of many of the animals in their quest for food, water and social interaction. Many of his photos show the unique patterns and markings on animals, such as cheetahs and giraffes. Other photographs capture animals in seemingly peaceful repose, surveying their territories, such as the photo Royal Gaze, of a lion gazing into the morning magic of Maasai Mara. Capturing the shots was anything but restful. “Dust filled every crack and crevice of the open Land Cruiser, including camera equipment and clothing,” Patel says. “The days were long and hot but the mornings and evenings cold. I spent many hours in awe simply watching a herd of hundreds of elephants as they fed and crossed a dry lake bed. Getting that perfect shot often required waiting in the same position for hours, but it was all worth it.”
Patel spends hours researching and scouting potential shoot locations, looking for inspiration and discovering when and where to go to capture photos that are different from what’s been photographed by other artists. By the time this article is published, he will have photographed locations on six of the world’s seven continents, with the most recently completed trek having taken place earlier this year to Antarctica, where he photographed penguins, whales and icebergs. Always mixing wildlife and landscape photography, Patel has plans in the near future to travel to Northern Canada and Svalbard to photograph polar bears and to Alaska to digitally capture grizzly bears in action. With only Australia left to conquer, he has established a dream lineup of expeditions for the next couple of years.
“During these trips, I don’t follow any specific rules during my creative process,” he explains. “I experiment with the technical aspects of the camera and put my own spin on the material in order to help others see nature through my eyes. I’m inspired by the captivating and striking elements of photography, combining techniques from portraits, architecture and even sports to create dynamic and engaging shots. My photography captures earth in its raw form, reminding people of the need to preserve nature in its beauty.”
Traveling is second nature to Patel, who grew up in a family of travelers and adventurers. He has experienced freezing mountain temperatures, active volcanoes and hot desert landscapes. These experiences inform other collections, including his fine art photography captured in the Desert, Mountains, Seascape & Waterfalls, Abstract and Architecture series. Over the years, he has received international attention for his wildlife and nature photography, and it’s his “spin” on the subject matter that makes them truly fine art.
“In my life, I’ve experienced the vastness of nature while taking photos of the freezing temperatures of Banff National Park or volcanic lava flows. Through my photos of these places, I hope to share a bit of the amazing experiences with my viewers. I hope my audience will come away with a slightly different view of the world and an appreciation for simple beauty that many overlook,” Patel says. “It’s our duty to maintain Earth so these majestic animals can continue to roam this planet.”
Patel’s newest Majestic Creatures collection is on display at the Christopher Martin Gallery, with locations in Houston and Dallas, and Aspen and Vail, Colorado. *
Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.