Sonal Patil: A Pro lenswoman in the genres of Food and Wildlife Photography
30th August 1970
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Sonal Patil was into Microbiology until she got an opportunity to attend the DCP Expeditions workshop which introduced her to an artistic aspect of perceiving things i.e. Photography. Hailing from Navi Mumbai, in spite of being a mother of two, this couldn’t stop Sonal from following and excelling in her passion. Now her artwork is being recognized by several extensive magazines and websites. She has received recognition of Manfrotto Award and has proved the inception of women domination in this craft.
We were very glad to interview her and share a few glimpses of her successful journey on our platform.
We are really keen to know; how did your journey begin?
Since childhood, birding was my passion but couldn’t pursue it as a career due to sudden demise of my father. After my second child turned two years old, I decided to restart my career as a Microbiologist. But destiny had some other plans and I came across Basic Wildlife Photography course by DCP Expeditions and joined one in October 2010. I was so impressed by the knowledge shared by the mentors that I decided to focus on Photography instead of Microbiology. Later Photography became my passion.
Know me Beyond Photography
Baba Amte, Sudha Murthy, Shahrukh Khan
I draw Inspirations from
People working hard to achieve their goals in adverse conditions.
Food I Love
I am a foodie and love to try all sorts of food
Food I Hate
which is not served with love
Had I not been a Photographer then,
I would have been Microbiologist
Like Vacations at
Favorite Pass time
Cooking, Metal embossing, Watching movies
Favorite Movies / Series
Favorite Actor / Actress
What's your success mantra?
Be honest, work hard as there is no alternative to hard work. Follow good work by great artists but develop your own style. Never imitate anyone.
What were the hardships / hurdles you have encountered during your journey? How did you overcome them?
Being a wildlife photographer, I had to spend a lot of time at work, staying away from my kids. Most of the weekends I had to be away from home and my growing kids, but they were very understanding. My husband fully supported me and enhanced my belief in myself throughout this challenging journey.
Success is incomplete without its share of setbacks. What advice do you give to others about handling the setbacks?
You learn from your mistakes. Don’t get depressed by failures. It’s a part of your growth. Think of ways to improve and move ahead.
Do you think photography and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Yes of course! Photography teaches you how to be patient. It makes you more observant as you meet likeminded people and explore new locations
Who has been the main influencers in your journey & how?
Wildlife Photographers Rathika Ramasamy and Kiran Poonacha have a lot of influence on my work. Following the Food Photographer Joanie Simon and her unique style has influenced me a lot. My mentor Dr Caesar Sengupta who is an excellent wildlife photographer as well as doing wonders in food photography is the biggest influencer in my journey both as a photographer and trainer.
Their passion, hard work and dedication in their respective fields is a strong influence for my career.
Which was "that" moment when you considered yourself as "I Am The 1"?
As a DCP Mentor I have conducted hundreds of Wildlife Photo Walks, Workshops and Photo tours. There are very few women working in this field. Every time I mentor a workshop / tour I feel like “Yes, I Am The 1”
Did you get any formal training in Photography? Kindly tell us about it…
Yes, I did my Basic and Advanced Photography workshops with DCP Expeditions. I have Recently attended some workshops on Food Photography which were very helpful.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Photography?
Yes it definitely helps to gain the detailed technical knowledge. Also you will get newer ideas and your work will get a fine professional touch.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. right age, mindset or anything else?
Your passion for photography is the only pre-coaching essential.
Technology is changing the way people get trained in Photography. What's your take?
Technology these days plays a crucial role. There are various platforms to showcase your work and enhance connectivity with a large set of people.
What qualities must one look for in a 'Guru' for training in Photography?
A Guru must have thorough knowledge in his/her field and be passionate about photography.
If you were to bring one big change in the way people get trained in photography, what would that be?
People should know how to showcase their work on social platforms to get recognition and at the same time it should send some social message as you have a very powerful tool in your hands that is ‘Camera’,use it wisely.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Photography training in remote parts of India?
DCP Expeditions is conducting free Photo walks all over the country for last 5 years which has gained immense popularity. Similar projects can be run in remote parts of country for better accessibility of photography training.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum…
Apart from academics, there are various opportunities in other fields. So parents please support your kids to choose career of their choice. They might need some more time to establish but they will enjoy what they love to do.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down the memory lane…
I should have started early so that I could have given more time for photography.
How can one identify & encourage talent in the family?
Kids show their interest in any art form at a very young age. Note their inclination towards any subject seriously. Encourage and support them to do better in that field. Their talent should get better exposure on social media and other available platforms.
Any other thoughts you want to share…
Keep on exploring new places, keep experimenting, follow other’s work to get new ideas but have your own unique style. Always be creative, supportive and encourage other’s work.