We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Patel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dana, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in San Diego, California however after 23 years, I moved to Lusaka, Zambia. I attended a performing arts elementary school and it really taught me to value art and creativity at a young age. As I grew up, I was always drawn to creative outlets such as drawing, painting, dance and music. At the age of 15, I gathered what little savings I had and purchased my very first camera. It came everywhere with me – family trips, outings with my friends, and just in my daily life. I initially wanted to pursue an artistic career however the reality of life pushed me to study Public Health at the University of California, Irvine.

After moving to Zambia is when my passion for photography really blossomed. In 2019 I started to photograph the streets of Lusaka and made the decision to pursue it as a career.

I would say that my background as well as my personality has a lot to do with the way I perceived art. While I was not the strongest in math and science, art and creativity came very naturally to me. I having moved from Southern California to Zambia made me see Zambia in a different light. Every street, every corner, every marketeer, and everything around me was beautiful and unique.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In Zambia, there are not many female street photographers. Normally when you think of street photography, you think urban life. However my images of Zambia show the beauty of every-day streets in the countries capital, Lusaka.

I would also say that the fact that I am not from Zambia was a challenge. It was rather daunting to shoot in public streets in areas I knew very little about and didn’t speak or understand the local language. It took a lot of guts but the more time I would dedicate to being out and taking photos, the more comfortable I became. I also attribute my discovery and understanding of Zambia to photography. Being out on the streets and interacting with people helped me better understand the culture and the people.

I would want people to know that beauty can be found in our every-day lives, even in the smallest of things – it just takes a little appreciation.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start early at breakfast at The Cottage in La Jolla and afterwards head down to La Jolla Shores for an early morning walk. After that, I’d probably head to James Coffee on 30th Street in North Park for an amazing cup of coffee. I’d suggest we eat at Raki Raki Ramen on Convoy for lunch and go plane sighting on Laurel street in downtown. We’d probably then head out for drinks at Polite Provisions in North Park and then end the night at dinner at Tribute Pizza.

As you can tell, when I’m in San Diego, there is a lot of eating that goes down! The city has such an amazing selection of cuisines that it makes it impossible to pick. I love spending time in North Park where there is a mix of people and food.

Lastly an obvious location to visit would be Sunset Cliffs at sunset. We could probably grab something to go and sit on the cliffs and watch the sun go down (and take some photos of course).

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would send a shoutout to my husband, my son, my parents and my in-laws for supporting and encouraging me to chase something that had no certainty but believed in me. I would also like to thank the team at Discover Zambia. In 2020 I won their yearly takeover and it really showcased my work and fueled me to continue what I was doing.

Website: www.danapatelphotography.com

Instagram: @danapatelphotography

Twitter: @danapatelphoto

Facebook: @danapatelphotography

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