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Lost America - by Troy Paiva

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Davenport chair Klau mine Full moon oak The doorway

Pioche graveyard Gold van Wheelchair Bunker

Red Mountain Mine Salton Sea trailer Abandoned base housing Palms Motel

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Troy Paiva has been an artist all his life, from sitting in the back row in grade school, drawing cars and airplanes in his notebooks to the freelance design of mass market toy products for major corporations like Hasbro, Wham-o! and Mattel. It wasn't until he was in his late 20s that he picked up on photography as a new way to be creative. "I use it as a method to 'decompress' from the high pressure commercial art world," he says.

Several trips to the desert as a child opened Troy's eyes to what he calls "the spectacular vastness of the American southwest". As a teenager, he would take two- or three-day, 2,000 mile drives in the remote desert wastelands with friends. "I gladly took the late-night driving shifts," he says, "and watched with fascination as the countless abandoned and bypassed roadside buildings and towns unreeled in the windshield, dead and forgotten."

"In the late 1980s, I sat in on a few night photography classes and had a revelation," says Troy. "Here were techniques that were perfect to capture the true atmosphere and mystery of these modern ghost towns." Troy's photographs were not taken digitally. They were also not digitally enhanced, and darkroom tricks were not employed. All lighting was done in camera, on location.

Troy has recently been exhibiting his distinctive night photography, which has appeared in various publications, including Yahoo Magazine, Popular Photography, Rod and Custom and on several rock band CD covers.

"Most of America's 20th Century waste from its 'disposable' culture seems to have found its way onto the shoulders of the southwestern highways," says Troy, "and none of it is safe from my camera."

Visit Troy's on-line gallery to take a full tour of his unusual and haunting works:

Troy Paiva, photographer and artist - captured by his own camera.

Troy Paiva, photographer and artist - captured by his own camera.