I’ve been using light painted, full moon-lit night photography to capture the abandoned American West for over 30 years.  Telling the story of the ghosts of America’s Western Expansion, from a post-wild west, post-Route 66, 21st Century perspective has become a never-ending source of inspiration. My documentarian, yet surrealist–sometimes playful, sometimes haunting work examines the final days of decommissioned military bases, NASA installations, derelict ocean liners, airliner boneyards, Hollywood prop graveyards . . . and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of abandoned amusement parks, train stations, factories, hospitals, gas stations, hotels, even entire towns, and the intensely exhilarating, yet strangely comforting act of sneaking around in the middle of the night, creating art from their ruins.

I only shoot at night, by the light of the full moon, using minutes-long exposures to capture the palpable passage of time onto a single frame. I augment the scene 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.

Since 1999 this website has gone viral repeatedly. As a result, my low cost, high impact lighting techniques have inspired legions of photographers, all over the world. My 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 I appeared as a guest judge on the Singapore reality TV show The Big Shot.


Borrow Lenses Blog: Interview
Newfound Journal: Article: American Dreamer
Summer Love Blog: 13 Questions
Lensflare 35: Podcast interview
Cameradojo: Podcast interview
The Ballardian blog: The Light-Painter of Mojave D: An Interview with Troy Paiva
Interview on Andy Frazer’s “Night Photography” blog
American Photo: Interview
Resource Magazine: Interview
Hemmings Classic Car Magazine: Auto Art.
The Night Photography of Troy Paiva at Kotori Magazine. Nighthawks Behind the Lens: Interview With Troy Paiva Troy Paiva’s Lost America: Discovered Niche
Environmental The Boneyard: Where Airplanes Go To Die Q & A with Troy Paiva Website of the Week Interview

The Big Shot– Singapore
Artland– UK

The de Young Open- San Francisco, California
Lost America-
Alstromerka Magasinet, Alingsas Sweden
Off the Grid- Kumukumu Gallery, New York, NY
Lost America- Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA
Darkness Darkness- Three Columns Gallery, Harvard University, MA
Highways– Rasdale Gallery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Night Light- Lightbox Gallery, Astoria, OR
Lost America- Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA
Boneyard- Lucky JuJu Pinball Club, Alameda, CA
Night Photography- Truxtop Gallery, Silverlake, CA
Wheels- The Montclair Gallery, Oakland, CA
The Glory of Living- Cyclorama performance at “The Playhouse” in San Francisco, CA.
Lost America- Center For The Performing Arts, Mountain View, CA
The Brightmail Invitational Night Photography Exhibition- San Francisco, CA

Lost America: The Abandoned Roadside West- 2003, Motorbooks International
Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration- 2008, Chronicle Books
Boneyard: SoCal’s Aircraft Graveyards at Night- 2019
, America Through Time
Night Salvage: Haunting SoCal’s Automotive Graveyards- 2020, America Through Time
Junkyard Nights: Haunting NorCal’s Automotive Graveyards- 2021, America Through Time

The NEW Joy of Digital Photography- Lark Books
Night Photography: Finding Your Way In The Dark- Focal Press
Night and Low-Light Photography- Amphoto Books
Weird Arizona- Barnes and Noble Books
Weird California- Barnes and Noble Books
Weird Texas- Barnes and Noble Books
Weird Nevada- Barnes and Noble Books
Weird USA- Barnes and Noble Books
Creative Vision- AVA Academia Books
Lighting- AVA Academia Books
As Long As The Moon Shall Rise- Holy Cow Press

Air & Space Magazine- feature article
Hemmings Magazine- feature article
Hot Rod Magazine- feature article
Automobile Magazine- feature article
Trend Magazine- feature article
Car & Techno- feature article
S7- feature article
Mondo Arc- feature article
Times Journal of Photography- feature article, interview
Digital Camera Magazine- feature article, interview
San Francisco Magazine
Moholy Ground Magazine- cover, feature article, interview
Elena Magazine- feature article, interview
JPG Magazine- Issue 5 “Photography is NOT a Crime”
JPG Magazine- Issue 10 “Beauty Redefined”
Focus Storia
Yahoo Magazine
Rod and Custom
Popular Photography (2004 & 2009)
E Week

Christine- Stephen King
From a Buick 8- 
Stephen King
Mile 81-
Stephen King
Middle School Science- McGraw Hill
Strategy By Design- Palgrave Macmillan
Creative Vision- AVA Academia Books
Snakebite- Stan Ridgway
Holiday in Dirt- Stan Ridgway
As the Dark Wave Swells- The Bambi Molesters
Lost Wages- Magik Vapor
So Much for the Classics- Black & White Band
Late for the Show- Brian Rung
Sound and Diversity- Leiah
Penny Black- Penny Black
Red Sands- James O’Keefe
Heart of Anthracite- Campbell McGrath
American Graveyards- Ray Nayler, TTA Press
Crimewave- Anthology, TTA Press

The Pearsonville Night Photography and Light Painting Workshops
2008-Present: Owner-operator of a semi-annual 3-day workshop held in a Mojave Desert auto junkyard.

2003: Santa Monica College, CA.
2005: The Las Vegas Book Festival
1990-2011: The Nocturnes Workshops
2006: UC Berkeley Photo Department
2007-2009: San Francisco City College
2009: Fagerhult Lighting, London, England
2010: Industrial Light and Magic, San Francisco, CA