Infinite Insights with Cinematic Master Aakaash Bali

Interview curated by Pratik Naik

I’m so excited to be welcoming guest Aakaash Bali on our platform to talk about his work! He is a great artist in our community and he’s been producing eye-opening concepts that we think deserves to be noticed! Have a read and learn about what inspires him, his history, and where color plays a role in the final set of images!

Follow Aakaash on Instagram at both of his accounts (personal, the shadow district) or browse more of his work on his website.

My name is Aakaash Bali. I’m a 28-year-old conceptual photographer based in New York.

When I was much younger, my father brought home a 35mm Minolta camera, which I proceeded to steal and never give back. Since that day, maybe 15 years ago, I’ve had a hard time putting the camera down. While my family had tried to get me into music (playing the piano in this case) as a kid, I kept gravitating towards the camera. It became the only thing I enjoyed, and the one thing I was passionate about at a young age. Soon after that, I started teaching myself an early version of Photoshop.

I started off photographing just about anything I could. Abstract pieces turned into portraits, and portraits turned into weddings and events. One day, I discovered a love for cinematography, filmmaking, and just watching movies in general. From then on, I fell in love with storytelling, how a film set operates, and the distinct mood and “feel” that movies had. While I did not want to make films of my own, I wanted to somehow translate that storytelling structure into my photographs.

I learned to love “less than perfect” lighting, such as hard, harsh light. I learned to love the use of practical light. Haze, fog, and texture have become immense parts of my work. When I create a piece, I try and simulate as many real-world scenarios and light/color/texture applications as possible in-camera, rather than in post-production. I dont always have access to a location to shoot in, or a planned set, so I occasionally turn to abandoned places and outdoor locations.

I would describe my images as emotional, cinematic, and sometimes just plain tragic. I enjoy telling stories that are thought-provoking and intense. Sometimes they may not make literal sense, but they evoke an emotional response in the viewer. Sometimes, they’re quite literal, and feel like you’re watching over a scene unfold in a film, waiting to see what happens next. I do my best to either leave my images up for discussion or questioning, or I try to answer any potential storyline questions visually to “bridge gaps” in my narrative. I also try to connect my photographs with creative writing to put my work into perspective.

One of the most critical parts of creating a solid image is color. While I generally pre-plan my color schemes on set, finding the perfect color grade in post doesn’t always comes naturally to me. I may know I want shades of red and cyan, but I never quite know which specific shades.

The Infinite Color Panel has helped tremendously with achieving a perfect color grade. Once I color-correct and balance an image, I like to use the ICP in multiple groups, masked into certain areas. Sometimes, a few clicks may produce the perfect color for a wardrobe, so I’ll mask it in manually and work on other sections (like skin tone or environment) separately. The ICP has also created perfect color grades off the bat, with no masking necessary within my images. I also really appreciate the flexibility of the adjustments it creates. Everything remains non-destructive, and everything can be further tuned to your liking.

I’ve found that after correction, even if I manually apply a grade, the ICP can enhance/build on top of it. It can add that “missing touch” that an image really needs.

My favorite part about the Infinite Color Panel is the sheer number of options it feeds you at the touch of a button. While you can click “Create” for hours, you’ll ultimately land on a color grade that makes you feel the way your image is intended on making viewers feel.

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Have you tried the panel yet? We'd love to see your creations! Get in touch on Instagram @infinitecolorpanel or the Facebook Infinite Color Panel group and show us your work.

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