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120 PROFILE
DESIGN
FILE TROY PAIVA
Sharon Stammers caught up with thecultphotographerat
arecentFagerhult UK seminar
I came across the photographer Troy Paiva
in the most tenuous of links. My mum
had cut out a photo in a magazine of an
abandoned garage lit in an eerie blue filmic
light. There was something not quite right
about it. It said it was inspired by cult
photographer Troy Paiva. ‘Interesting,’ I
thought and hit the Google button. So I
came across Troy’s work without even see-
ing one of his own photographs. I thought
that he must be a cult figure to permeate
the world of photography like that and
stored away the info for another day.
Then the opportunity to ask him over to
London for a talk occurred. As part of their
Masters of Light seminar season Fagerhult
were approaching various cult figures in
lighting to come and speak. The season
examines the mastery of different types of
lighting practioners and the medium they
“J oshua Says Go!”, 2006, Aviation Warehouse, El Mirage Dry Lake, California, USA. The minutes-longwork in. Here was a chance to contact
exposures allow the stars to spiral and the moving clouds to smear across the skysome very cool people and persuade these
‘Masters of Light’ who inform and inspire
our work to come in person. So this is what The coloured lighting in the photographs is photography, Troy is seen as one of the fore-
happened; Tadao Ando was un-contactable, achieved using a flashlight or strobe flash runners in the subculture of Urban Explora-
Ingo Maurer said yes but not until 2010 or covered with theatrical lighting gels. Troy tion; trespassing in abandoned factories,
2011, Max Keller said yes but he would only emphasises that the lighting effects are all decommissioned military bases and other
speak in German. Troy Paiva was up for the done during the exposure and the images do derelict industrial landscapes. Check out
chance to dust off his passport and try out not get altered in Photoshop. his website for a complete guide to Light
his photography style in the UK. “Its effect reanimates these dead places, Painting and lots of top tips for safe Urban
The talk was held on June 4th and centred turning them into mutant tableaus of some Exploration.
on his vast body of work and the develop- vaguely familiar parallel universe. The His low cost but high impact lighting
ment of his light painting techniques. He minutes-long exposures allow the stars to techniques have been adopted by amateur
describes himself as someone who has spiral around Polaris and the moving clouds and professional photographers all over the
explored the deserted back roads of the to smear ethereally across the sky. Many of world which is what has made him a cult
American Southwest, since the 1970s, start- these subjects are already gone; bulldozed, figure in photography and indeed a master
ing in 1989 to document “the abandoned burned down, subdivided, melted for scrap of light.
underbelly of America” by the light of the or simply vanished beneath the shifting
full moon. After years of development and desert sand.” The next Fagerhult talk will take place
perfecting his technique, Troy’s work is now In addition to countless appearances in on Sept 10th at their London Studio with
created using a method he calls ‘light paint- print, online and in galleries, Troy has Professor Phillip Ursprung speaking about
ing’, perfect for capturing the atmosphere published two books and regularly holds the work of artist Olafur Eliasson.
and mystery of the modern ghost towns and workshops that people wait years to get on. www.troypaiva.com
eerie junkyards he was already exploring. Not only a cult hero in the pioneer of night www.fagerhult.co.uk
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