Jashika Patel tells us about her passion for capturing the wonder of nature on camera, and her latest trip to spot a snow leopard
Tell us about yourself.
I am a South African-born, UK-based life actuary, nature photographer, wildlife lover and explorer of our beautiful planet. I am a director at Deloitte, working in the finance and risk transformation space, with a focus on end-to-end performance management.
How did you become interested in wildlife and nature?
My love for wildlife and nature came before my love for photography – I have felt a connection with animals from a young age. This has continued to develop, especially now that I’ve been able to travel and see wildlife in its natural environment. I confess to having a slight addiction to paws and whiskers!
How did you get into photography?
I bought my first DSLR camera as a gift to myself after I qualified as an actuary. At first, I took photos of everything and anything, but my passions soon collided, and photographing the natural world is now my obsession. I try to do two to three photography trips a year, as there is no better way to learn than by getting hands-on in the field. I have a supportive boss who allows me the freedom to fulfil this passion alongside my transformation work.
Does photography have a role to play in the fight against climate change?
Humans are visual by nature, and photography is one of the best ways to connect people to our planet – especially in a world where social media has become part of our daily lives. Photographs can inspire a love for wildlife and our planet, creating a desire and awareness of what is needed to protect it. It is important for photographers to share both the beauty and fragility of our planet. As we fight to protect our oceans, forests and wildlife, every single conservation is vital.
What are some of your favourite places, and where are you going next?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to the Arctic, Antarctica and wonderful locations in between. I love anywhere wild, where there are more animals than people or buildings. I feel happiest on the plains of the Maasai Mara or between icebergs in the Arctic. I took a career break last year, and photographing jaguar in the Pantanal and gorilla in Uganda were a few of my highlights. I have just come back from Ladakh where I went to spot a snow leopard – one of the rarest cats in the world.
Are there any links between your actuarial work and photography?
Storytelling is such a vital skill and is becoming increasingly important in performance management. As an actuarial consultant, I help my clients tell a story about results or performance. As a photographer, I help tell stories about our beautiful planet through my lens. Both require me to focus on the details, understand drivers and behaviour, and compile a visual output that tells a clear and compelling narrative to the audience.
What are your top wildlife photography tips?
- Practise, practise, practise – there is no substitute for this
- I’ve come to realise how important it is to understand your subject and be really observant in the field. Being able to predict animal behaviour can be the difference between capturing a truly unique moment and watching it pass by in agony
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Once I have my ‘safe and sharp shot’ in the field, I try to remember to play around with my settings and composition – and every now and then, I create a picture I adore
- Put down your camera and take it all in. The feeling you get when you are one with nature (without the sound of any clicks) is priceless, and are some of my best memories.
Jashika Patel is a director at Deloitte
Image credit | Jashika-Patel