There is Still Fire in Your Tombs: Troy Paiva’s Lost America Photography

Presidio Pet Cemetery, Quentin the Evenrude Cat, Photographed by Troy Paiva

Photographer Troy Paiva stalks lonely ghostlands of abandoned spaces, capturing nighttime images of hidden cemeteries, forgotten buildings, and secret landscapes lost to time, all bathed in a Burton-esque wash of unearthly light. One such place, the Presidio Pet Cemetery, created an internet buzz earlier this year with Troy’s vivid and eerie photos of loving graves long abandoned.  Paiva recalls,

Originally started in the 1950s, there are no actual military records of the site being designated as a pet cemetery, but it’s become the final resting place to hundreds of animals. It was officially closed to interments in 1963, but many have clandestinely buried their pets here over the years. 

Situated directly beneath the new freeway flyover construction, the contractor temporarily built a low roof over this tiny necropolis to protect it from falling debris. This covering created a surreally gloomy, underground graveyard.  It’s like a cemetery in a subway tunnel . . . with names like Blinky and Wiggles on the tombstones. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

Photographed in darkness, Paiva creates his spectral palettes using long exposures and minimal hand-held lighting, evoking a sense of supernatural unreality. Self-taught over more than two decades of exploring the forgotten places of the western US, Troy offers training in this technique through hands-on workshops and an ebook guide.  For more uncanny photos, from ghost ships and military relics to abandoned hospitals and haunted housesbrowse the gallery below and visit Paiva’s site, Lost America.


Related Posts:

– In the Gray Wood-Mist: Denise Grünstein’s Dark Fairy Tale Photography

– Dark Clouds Will Gather ‘Round Me: Town of Ghosts

– I Dreamt of a Black Sea at Night: The Sinking of the Titanic

Categories: Art & Inspiration

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8 replies

  1. WOW! Really? I had no idea! That IS neat!

  2. Very cool… though it makes my heart break. But it’s like the overpass has now served as protection. I’m assuming that’s why the graves are in such good shape. Thank you for sharing this.

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