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How often do you take the road less travelled?

How often do you notice the things around you that you see every day?

How often do you immerse yourself in the curiosities of the world when the sun has set?


These are all questions I asked myself before starting this project.


My name is Aakaash Bali. I am a professional fine-art portrait photographer, retoucher, and storytelling artist based in Long Island, New York. Throughout my career, my days and nights are spent on sets, telling stories and evoking emotions from viewers. When I'm not shooting, I'm either developing a new concept, or retouching.

Like many artists, my nights became my days. I spend my nights burning the midnight oil behind a computer editing  photographs for two or three hours a piece, just until the sun comes up.

I always felt the most creative at night. The peace and quiet is calming. Nobody can bother me, I owe nothing to anyone, and I can be alone with my thoughts. The darkness brought about a serene, peaceful feeling that I just couldn't experience during the day.

One quiet rainy night, I was in my office retouching a portrait. I felt a wave of exhaustion sweep through my body, so I decided to get out of the house, get some air, and get some coffee. On the way to my local 7-11, I saw a lonely streetlamp projecting a cone of fog on the ground. The light was floating, and it was beautiful. I got my coffee, grabbed my camera, and spent the rest of the night wandering in the fog, photographing the things I don't normally pay attention to. The next evening, as the sun set, I rushed to begin editing the photographs I had captured the night before.

I noticed that those images reminded me of the serenity of the darkness that I felt every night. The images invoked an emotional response out of me that I still remember to this day.

After that night, I became obsessed. I started chasing fog, rain, snow, neon signs that illuminate the dark, industrial areas we rarely notice, and lonely lights inside windows. The lonely lights especially. Maybe the person in those buildings is just like me, in love with the dark.


The Shadow District was born out of a need for peace, quiet, and time for myself. It was born out of a need to escape and not feel bad about it. This project was initially just a therapeutic adventure for myself. It was a hobby, and that's about it.

Over time, these images began filling my walls. People began responding extremely well to them. People began asking for prints, for tutorials, or just to simply shoot with me one night.

I then realized that nighttime photography was something I was born to do.

This website serves as a collection of the images that fill my walls, the walls of friends, and have inspired many. I invite you to share this experience with me and hang some peaceful darkness on your walls as well.


Welcome to The Shadow District.

A Collection of Bedtime Stories for Those Who Choose to Stay Awake.

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