Photographer spotlight: Troy Paiva, aka: lostamerica.com

Our photographer spotlight this week is another amazing photographer that I was introduced through Twitter. It’s amazing how many great photographers I have met on twitter and some really good relationships formed also. One day I hope I can meet all of you in person, there really is a strong community of creative people on twitter and some other networks. Someone send me over a link to some of Troy Paiva’s images and I was amazed! His work is so interesting and thought provoking. Lots of his work is urban nightscapes and the juxtaposition of a broken down car in the junkyard against the night sky and lit up with gelled lights really creates a surreal scene. Some of the cars feel alive again, I can almost hear them speaking. Here is a little more on Troy Paiva and his work:

Troy Paiva, aka: lostamerica.com, ghost towner, urban explorer, night photographer and light painter.

Travelers Motel


I’ve been exploring abandonments and junkyards for more than 30 years. I’ve been taking pictures in them at night since 1989. So my fascination with ruins is deep seated and ingrained in my personality. Humans are fascinated with ruins. As a species, we always have been, so my fascination is not out of the ordinary.

I’ve been an artist my whole life and a commercial artist most of my working life. In 1989 I was looking for a new medium to create art as I was working in tightly art-directed job. My brother, a photography student at the time, introduced me to light painting and night photography and I immediately saw it as a way of creatively documenting the abandoned places I’ve always been drawn to.

I’m a surrealist and always have been, Light painting during time exposures at night in abandoned places are the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. It’s intoxicating and thrilling. And it’s intensely satisfying as an artist.

Could you describe the process of creating a light painted image from start to finish?
First I size up the image by eye to figure out composition and run through the lighting concept. I set up the camera/tripod, set focus and other camera settings and lock open the shutter and repeat the lighting scheme I did in the run through. When the exposure ends I use the camera preview to asses the image. Is the composition good? Horizon? Edges? How did the lighting go? Sometimes I nail it on the first shot, but frequently I don’t. I’ll adjust the position of the camera or change my lighting and reshoot. Sometimes I’ll do up to 8 shots before I’m satisfied. Sometimes I’ll have one exposure with a good right half and bad left, and another with a good left and bad right and I’ll just combine them in post.

The reason I love what I do ….
It’s all about the locations and subjects for me; I just love junkyards and abandoned places. Always have. I enjoy the hands on, physical process involved with my technique as well. I love doing this because it’s a challenge.

Who do you get your inspiration from …
I draw inspiration from everything around me, not just photography. Artists in every medium, from films to painters to writers to musicians. It all affects me.

Your photography specialty …

All I do is shoot junk at night and light paint it. That is all I do.

Who is your photo idol …

Storm Thorgerson? Roger Deakins? Misrach? Frank? Too many more to mention, though I am more interested in the art than the person that made it.+

Favorite photography product …

The Stinger Streamlight.

Favorite movie …
I’m gonna have a hard time stopping at 10. The Big Lebowski, Vanishing Point, Bringing Up Baby, Pulp Fiction, Dr. Strangelove, Fight Club, North By Northwest, Blade Runner, To Have and Have Not, Taxi Driver. Really, I could go all day.

Last rental you watched …
My wife and I are currently blasting through the third season of Six Feet Under. We missed this show on first broadcast.

What superhero would you be …
I don’t care, so long as I don’t have to wear a cape in The Incredbles.

If I am typically craving something it is ….
3 full moons a month.

What is your most fav photo you have recently taken …

The Weather Channel

I did this 2 minute exposure last full moon, while teaching my workshop at the Pearsonville Junkyard. I’ve spent 25 nights, taking 450 finished images, in this gigantic junkyard and this was the first time I’d noticed this TV in this car. It’s the location that just keeps on giving!

To view more of Troy’s work check out these websites:
website: http://www.lostamerica.com/
flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostamerica/
workshops: http://www.lostamerica.com/workshop.html


Thunderbirds Are Go!


Exit Row


Time Slide


Impossible City Overlook

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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2 Comments

  1. Outstanding photography here. Mark, your spotlights always… hit the spot. What else is there to say, but “Bravo!”

  2. Thanks Jorge!

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