Story Behind the Shot: Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Student Work
by Rob Kenyon Oct 7, 2014

All my previous photos of the pyramids had been filled with traffic, tourists, and hawkers — busy, unfocused, common. I knew I needed to try something different. I decided I’d give the Giza complex another shot. This time I’d get there earlier, maybe try and make use of some bad weather, not just for beautiful light and stormy clouds, but also because it might keep tourists away.

I was right about the light. There were some fairly menacing dark black clouds with blue sky just poking through in places. But I was wrong about the tourists. Masses of tourists were still storming the main pyramids. I decided to ignore them and focus on the smaller pyramids, get up close, and use a wide angle. This was when I got “the shot” of the trip.

This image was different — it was a pyramid, the symbol of Egypt I wanted to get, but not a stereotypical ‘blue sky, sand, and bloke on a camel’ photo that’s all over the internet and travel magazines. At the same time not full of tourists, vendors, or busses. It had points of interest with the dark, angry clouds, a low, more composed angle, no tourists, and really nice light on it. I was amazed, later, that I was really the bloke that took it.

This isn’t the best image I’ve ever taken. Not by a long shot. But it was this image, and the trip as a whole, that, through a culmination of planning and experimentation and the development of my workflow, completely changed the way I approach my photography. The majority of photos I got from Egypt weren’t good at all, but the week was one of the most important learning curves in my photographic journey, and at the end of it — after hauling my gear across the country, sweating through innumerable t-shirts, being up early with the dawn, and up late researching day after day — I’d at least come away with this one photo. One photo to prove to myself I could do it.

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