Last Updated August 29, 2018

Troy Paiva

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Night/Long Exposure

Troy Paiva has been using light painted, full moon-lit night photography to capture the abandoned American West for over 25 years. His documentary and sometimes haunting work examines the final days of the decommissioned. The American born artist uses the seemingly inexhaustible supply of abandoned infrastructure littering the forgotten corners of America – including gas stations, hotels, amusement parks, military installations and even entire towns – as a source of inspiration for his photography.

He only shoots at night, by the light of the full moon, using minutes-long exposures to capture the palpable passage of time onto a single frame. Scenes are augmented with hand-held light–frequently colored–during the exposure, treating the site like a dark stage set, using theatrical and cinematic techniques to manage the composition, create mood, and lead the viewer’s eye. It’s about tightly controlling the scene, even though the scene itself is wildly entropic and out of control.

His imagery has appeared in print, in over a dozen countries–including three Stephen King book covers–and two award-winning monographs: “Lost America: Night Photography of the abandoned Roadside West“ in 2003 (Motorbooks International), and “Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration” in 2008 (Chronicle Books). The work has appeared in museums and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, London, Sweden and San Francisco. In 2010 and 2011 he appeared as a guest judge on the Singapore reality TV show The Big Shot.

His low cost, high impact lighting techniques have inspired legions of photographers, all over the world.