The Pyramids at Dawn—2001

The Story Behind the Photograph...

The Pyramids at Dawn is my most famous image, at least among the fine art community and museum curators. Here’s how it came to be…

Helen and I spent a day at the Giza Plateau back in November, 2001. We explored and I took pictures all day. In the late afternoon we hiked a mile into the desert to get the classic view of the three pyramids. Only I when we got out there, I realized it was a morning shot.

So back we came the next morning. We were up before the sunrise and headed off for Giza where we were the first to arrive and waited for the gates to open, sipping coffee and eating bread which a teenager sold us from a tray he carried on his head. When Giza opened to tourists, we walked a mile into the desert to get the shot we came for.

Once I had the shot (and a few more) we hoofed it out of the desert. We walked past Mycernos’ pyramid and alongside Chefron’s. When we got past Chefron’s pyramid, I stopped and turned around. Like many, I had dreamed of seeing the pyramids since I was a child. And now I had spent a full day plus some with the famous icons.. I stopped and turned to reflect and say goodbye.

That’s when I saw this. I dropped my backpack, grabbed my camera and got to work. It’s one of the few times in my life when I knew I had captured something extraordinarily special. The light, the lines and the life in the image conspired to create a unique moment. For the next seven months, I thought about that picture… until I finally made it home and was able to see the contact sheet and confirm my suspicion that this was a truly special image.


The Smithsonian—Permanent collection
DeYoung Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco—Permanent collection
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston—Permanent collection
The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore)—Permanent collection
Orlando Museum of Art—Permanent collection

Oakland Museum of California—Solo exhibit
The Field Museum (Chicago)—Eternal Egypt
Stephen Cohen Gallery (Los Angeles)
Photo San Francisco
Photo Los Angeles
University of North Carolina—Solo exhibit
The Commonwealth Club (San Francisco)—Solo exhibit
San Francisco Cameraworks—Group auction


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