In the early 1990s, after moving to Providence, Rhode Island, he started producing formally complex, often dark depictions of the urban, suburban, and industrial landscape. This work, which grew into the project titled "Wilderness" continued to evolve when Raphaelson moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1995. The work went unnoticed by the larger photography art world until it was discovered by Sandra Phillips of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It later caught the attention of former Museum of Modern Art curator John Szarkowski. Commercial galleries, on the other hand, struggled to find a place for the work, which blurs many lines between classic formal modernism, the politically aware "New Topographics" photography from the 1970s, highly crafted "fine art" photography, and more contemporary explorations of the banal and ironic.
Raphaelson's grandfather was the playwright and screenwriter Samson Raphaelson, who practiced photography as an amateur in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Raphaelson's ongoing projects include explorations in color, digital carbon pigment printing, and hand-made artist's books.
- Lost Spaces, Found Gardens (2005 to present): Color work exploring the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, with forays into East Williamsburg, Manhattan the Brooklyn industrial waterfront.
- Wilderness (1994-2003): Black and white large format urban landscape work.
- Southwest (1988 to present): An ongoing exploration of the old and new in southern Colorado, including Colorado Springs, the Pueblo area, the San Luis Valley, central and southern Utah, and Arizona.
- Chicago (1988-1990): Selections from oldest work, including small camera cityscapes and street pictures.
- Brooklyn Utopias?, group exhibit, Brooklyn Historical Society, 2009 - 2010
- Lost Spaces, Found Gardens, individual exhibit, Brooklyn Public Library, 2009
- Ten Years Under The Manhattan Bridge, individual exhibit, Brooklyn Public Library, 2008
- Brooklynature, juried exhibit, St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn, 2007
- Environment: Place, juried exhibit, Photomedia Center.org, 2005
- Emotional Distance, group exhibit, Gallery Sink, Denver, 2002
- Off The Highway, group exhibit, Gallery Sink, Denver, 2001
- Paul Raphaelson, individual exhibit, Monographs, Ltd., New York, 2000
- Urban Interpretations, group exhibit, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, 1999
- Off the Highway, group exhibit, David Floria Gallery, Aspen, Colorado, 1996
- Wilderness, individual exhibit, Gallery One, Providence, 1995
- Off the Highway, group exhibit, Robin Rule Modern and Contemporary, Denver, 1995
- Wilderness, individual exhibit, Cranston Public Library, Rhode Island, 1995
- Endangered Providence, group exhibit, Gallery One, Providence, 1995
- Chicago, individual exhibit, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, 1990
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