In Michael Massaia‘s landscapes of Central Park, abandoned houses, and an amusement park, light has an eerie, incandescent quality.

His exposures are made between 2:00 and 5:00 AM with a large format camera that records and defines the light that gathers out of darkness. Isolation, disconnection, the shifting lines between revealing and concealing, and a romantic attempt to spotlight are constants in all of his work. Night serves as the backdrop in which the photographer can record, or draw, an almost infinite patterning of light and create a world either real or imagined. On a metaphoric level, night is a time of darkness which, by nature, conceals objects, people, and locations.

Michael Massaia, Deep in A Dream – Central Park – Fading Away, 2011, Platinum/Palladium photograph

Late Night/Early Morning Hours

During an interview we asked Massaia about shooting between the hours of 2 and 6 AM, a time he describes as most “haunting, desolate, and inviting.” We wanted to know what about a haunted and desolate place makes it inviting for him. He answered:

The late night/early morning hours offer a strange type of honesty, or perhaps longing, that simply evaporates once the sun rises. All the cards seem to be laid out on the table at 3 AM in a way that never really happens during the day. You have this constant feeling that at any moment something unforeseen and wonderful could happen, contrasted by a feeling that at any moment things could go very bad. Oddly enough, I also feel less isolated during these hours. I think that finding a connection in what most people perceive to be an undesirable time and place, is ultimately the catalyst for everything I do.”

Early Exposure

Michael Massaia’s involvement in photography started in high school and he has remained consumed by a calling to create fine pictures ever since. He specializes in large format black and white film image captures and large format platinum and silver gelatin printing (click here to watch a video of Massaia in his darkroom). All of his photographs are true “one shot” scenes (his images are never composited from multiple exposures). Massaia works alone and is the sole craftsman from the composing of the picture behind the ground glass to the moment the final print is made.


His work has been featured in television documentaries, written about extensively in major photography magazines, and he has been a recipient in the 2013 Hearst 8 x 10 Photography Biennial. Today, Massaia continues to produce uniquely beautiful nocturnal compositions in brilliantly saturated blacks, whites, and grays.


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