What happens when a photographer hosts a costume party

What happens when a photographer throws a party and invites people home? Would the guests see framed prints on the walls of the living room or home studio? Maybe, they should also get a taste of his/her work as a personalized return gift. That’s the thought I had when Swapna(my wife) and I invited to our home a set of happy people – few siblings, cousins, and friends – to welcome the new year 2017.

We aren’t that huge a fan of crowded Bengaluru streets revelry on new year’s eve. We were also not so keen on splurging on huge couple passes for crowded (again) new year parties that were being organized across the hotels and resorts in the city. If it isn’t a destination far away from the maddening city lights (traffic & crowds), then the best option for us has always been to celebrate it with an intimate gathering of close friends and family. A house party!

This year we decided to host the party. We called in a group of friends & cousins who would gel together. The only condition (Swapna decided) was that each person would arrive as a Bollywood actor. I knew this was coming, as I am married to someone who is a die-hard Bollywood cinema fan. She watches practically every movie that releases. She wouldn’t miss an opportunity like this to add that  ‘filmy’ touch to real life!

So, the day arrived and everyone started trickling in by late evening. It was a gathering of just about 20 people (but sufficient enough to bring the house down). It was a nice surprise to see each person getting into a costume, and transform into a character so different from what each one is in their real lives. A lot of effort and time was put in by each one of them to come up with something cool or funky. Everyone would be taking countless selfies and pictures on their phones, no doubt. But how about capturing the look and preserving the memory of the night, by making individual portraits shot in a professional manner?

So, I finally got the idea for our return gifts!

I didn’t have much time as the playlist of songs for the night was ready (and so were the drinks). I quickly pulled out my trusted old Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and a Godox AD360II portable strobe light. I then quickly set up the Linklite Octabox (90cm) which is an umbrella-type quick assembly softbox. I zeroed in on a plain background (a wall in the living room), placed the light and a reflector on the stands. Then, I pulled out each person one by one and started working my way to bring out their best pose or style. It was more like a spontaneous high fashion portrait shoot, but with the models doing their own makeup and styling. 

A half an hour later, it was a wrap-up! Else, I had to miss the appetizers!

So here is a gallery with a set portraits made that evening. Click on the thumbnails to view them in a larger size.

It was a fun night, and we all managed to welcome the new year in style. I am thankful that my neighbors didn’t complain.

I have been sharing these portraits over the last few days on my Instagram handle: @nishantratnakar (Click to follow me on Instagram!). But, I guess the best return gift for everyone would be a printed photograph. Guys, the prints are on their way!

I hope to meet everyone soon to hand them their respective portrait –  or a portrait of someone they pretended to be for a moment. How do I interpret this? As each of them was an actor (for a moment) pretending to be another actor. 

Do you like to pretend and dress up like someone else? An actor, a politician, a celebrity, a sportsperson, a public figure or just someone else you like, admire or even hate! Just for a moment? Then let me know, I’d like to make a portrait of you pretending to be that someone.

Cheers! Happy new year everyone.


If you like this work, and if you want to commission me for making a portrait of yours, then please do contact me using the Contact Form. You can find more details about my portrait assignments at this link – Portrait Photography Packages.

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Nishant Ratnakar
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Nishant Ratnakar

Photographer | Visual Storyteller at www.nishantratnakar.com
Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.
Nishant Ratnakar
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