Book Review – Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration

Some weeks ago, a fellow by the name of Troy Paiva contacted me about his new book that would be coming out soon — only asking if I'd like a copy of it. So of course I jumped all over the offer and told him that I could do a review of the book on the blog. He replied “Well, sure, but there is no real obligation.” Once I got the book and started diving into it, there's no way that I could pass up the chance to let everybody else know about it.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a paid review, nor has it been reviewed or edited by the book's author or publisher. The book was sent to me by the author, free of charge, out of his own goodwill. I am in no way affiliated with the book or the publisher of the book. The author has also granted me permission to post his photos in this review. The following review and commentary is my honest editorial opinion.


To understand this book, you have to know a little bit about the author and his experience with photography and urban exploration. Troy Paiva began exploring the decay of the American west as a teenager during the 1970's, driving the deserts in search of abandoned places and objects. By the end of the 80's, he had incorporated night photography and unique lighting effects into his urban exploration, creating a style of photography that is quickly identified as his own. Through the 90's and into the turn of the century, Troy wandered the West seeking out long forgotten places that were once bustling with activity. After releasing his first book, Lost America, in 2003 Troy began to shoot digital and the Internet had pulled him closer to other photographers sharing his love for urban exploration. The photos in this second book, Night Vision, are primarily from this era of Troy's career. The book contains years of work, and decades of passion, experience, and artistic ability.


Night Vision is a book about urban exploration — or the investigation of man-made places ignored and largely unseen by the public. This includes old military and industrial installations, “ghost towns”, and any other sites that have been left to decay out of sight. Troy is a master of urban exploration, and he shares his thoughts and feelings on the topic throughout the book. In fact, he does this so well that he can get you excited and otherwise emotional about it. He has a very strong connection with this genre and it enables him to show you the world through his eyes.

The book is filled with brilliant photos of Troy's adventures as he explores the historic monuments of the past. His photos appear to be impossible and purely imagined post-apocalyptic scenes like something from a movie. The work presented is both sad and exciting at the same time, with visions of towns and businesses that were once a part of everyday life for many people, reduced to nothing more than ghostly shells of a structure and decaying heaps of rubble. As I made my way through the book, I began to wonder what the landscape will look like 50 years down the road. Will the towns I know today be nothing more than a thing of the past, waiting to be demolished, salvaged, or completely forgotten?

There are 144 pages in this extraordinary book, most of which are filled with photos (115 to be exact). This may sound like a lot of photos, but as you read the book it feels more like a teaser. Just as you begin to gain some interest in the subjects, Troy sweeps you off to the next location, leaving you craving more of his imagery. For me, the book was a “one sitting” read — I couldn't put it down once I started the journey. It's a truly captivating work


I can honestly recommend this book to anybody with any background. The photos are outstanding and appealing to the eye, the writing is informative and educational, and the message is inspirational. It's presented in such a way to let your imagination run wild with thoughts of days gone by in the American West. And on top of all that, this is a standing piece of history — as several of the sites photographed in the book are no longer in existence.

If you're looking for a good photobook, this one is 100% worth buying. The photos presented in the book take on a completely different appearance versus those you can see on this page or on Troy's Flickr Set. There's a story being told, and that story is done justice in Troy's book, Night Vision.