When I came across Tej Patel’s Instagram (tejxpatel) I fell in love with his photography. How he captures important moments in pixels is incredible with an everlasting effect. The Dallas-based photographer is known for his excellent camera skills and direction! His videos are also phenomenal and capture an event as a whole and create a story that doesn’t even need words to describe.
Interview with Tej Patel
1.) When did you get into photography and video
I’ve always loved photography and video. Growing up we had a camera my Mom would use to capture home videos and family events. I remember taking the camera and filming a lot of things myself and always finding it interesting.
Growing up my friends and I would make YouTube videos and I was always just interested in making videos for fun. When I got to High School I enrolled in a video production class for a few years and that’s where I’d say I started to think about how I could actually do this and also where I realized I had a talent for it. My senior year I switched from video production to photography class and I also loved that. When I got to college I actually convinced myself that pursuing photography and video wasn’t realistic and I should major in computer science. But then one day I saw a job opportunity at my school’s newspaper and I started taking photos and making videos there and getting paid. From there I just kept working on my craft and reaching out to create photos and videos for anyone that would give me a chance.
2.) What’s one of your favorite things about your work and one challenge you had to overcome?
My favorite thing is how my projects are so different and that I get to meet so many different people. It truly can never get old because I’m constantly meeting new people and in new environments. A lot of people have to sit in the same office and work with the same people every day and I just feel so fortunate that I get to have so many different experiences.
One challenge I had to overcome was a judgment from people in my community and my own family. I was told that I would make no money doing photos and videos. I was told to get a real career. I was made fun of for making videos on YouTube. A lot of that did affect me and it did set me back. But eventually, I just realized that this is my life and I’m only going to be happy if I do this and secondly I realized I would be more successful at this than anything else because I had a passion & talent for it.
3.) if you could do a photoshoot with anyone who would it be with?
This is a very tough question for me. In fact too tough. Am I allowed to skip??
4.) Any advice for kids wanting to go into photography and creative direction?
I’d say focus on your craft first. I see a lot of kids going into photography and creative work but expecting money too quickly and getting discouraged. It’s not that nobody wants to pay creatives but it’s that no one wants to pay someone whose work they aren’t confident in. You have to be willing to grind out doing work for free or cheap at the beginning to show what you can do and if your good people will 100% be willing to pay you your worth.
I would also say be careful of where you spend your time and which opportunities you say yes to. If your goal is to direct music videos or make short films don’t get lost in the sauce and start spending all your time shooting weddings. You’ll have to sacrifice time, money, and opportunities to make sure you have room for what your actual goals are.
5.) Are your parents supportive of your line of work?
My Mom is very supportive of my work and always has been. I started my career while I was in college and once I graduated I had already built up a decent amount of clientele and I just told my Mom I’m going to try this because I think it’s going to work out and she believed in me enough to let me try it. I would say once I started getting bigger and working on bigger projects and clients they respected what I was doing a lot more as well. But from the beginning, they believed in me and gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion. There was a bit of friction and comments about getting a job in the beginning but I felt that was just my mom being worried for me. All in all, I received support from my Mom to pursue my passion and still do.
6.) What are some covid hobbies you’ve developed?
So I had a candle addiction in which I found a lot of joy from just lighting candles in my room. It was a solid 7/10 activity and it would have been 10/10 if candles didn’t cost so much. But I actually got COVID a couple of months ago and after that, I can’t really smell them anymore. So that has been pretty unfortunate.
7.) Has your work been hit badly by covid? if so how has it improved and what’s one challenge you had to overcome there.
COVID definitely set back a lot of work I was going to be involved with. A lot of my work pre-covid was event-based and of course, there haven’t been any events because of COVID. However, this actually allowed me to pivot and open myself up to other opportunities which I’ve loved doing. A lot of companies and brands had to pivot to more digital strategies and that’s helped me get some more opportunities as well. It was a challenge especially at the very beginning of the pandemic though to say no to opportunities to make sure I wasn’t putting myself, my family, friends, or other people at risk.
8.) What’s one of your favorite Bollywood movies?
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
9.) If you could’ve directed any music video who’s would it be?
I’d love to one day direct a Kid Cudi music video.
Kid Cudi is one of my favorite artists because he keeps it so real and him being vulnerable in his music and talking about real-life things has helped so many people.
Check out some of Tej’s phenomenal work on his Instagram (@tejxpatel) and be ready to step into a whole new world!