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London A.M.

black and white image of a stone wall with a clock tower against the morning sky
Euston Street, London

For the first several days in London, I was wide awake at 4 a.m., a product of the four-hour time difference between Georgia and the U.K.

As I left our hotel each morning, well before sunrise, the staff at the front desk greeted me with an expression I couldn’t get used to, “Are you okay?”

Each time someone said this to me, I had to pause. I knew the expression was similar to one we use in the States, “how’s it going?” But the way I must have looked venturing out in the rainy, dark morning, I worried there was a second part to their question: “Are you okay? Do you need me to call a doctor?”

Even though I must have appeared a little slow in my response each morning, it was nice to engage in English small talk. For the first several days in London, especially early in the morning, I had to remind myself to say “hello” instead of “garmarjoba” and “thank you” instead of “madloba.” Even new habits can be hard to break.

As I wandered through the empty streets each morning, I enjoyed seeing the city slowly come to life as a handful of early-morning commuters marched into the Underground stations, and construction workers began their day. With empty sidewalks, I could set up my tripod and not worry about being in anyone’s way.

I fell in love with the way the city’s lights reflected back on itself, creating soft shadows between the pools of light from the streetlights, shining on the wet pavement.

While I do some research on places to photograph whenever I go to a new place, my favorite way to discover a place is walking. I often start with a specific direction then meander in directions that seem interesting. That strategy was rewarding in London, where different architectural styles cohabitated effortlessly in many neighborhoods.

Corie and I came across the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel one morning while we were waiting for the British Library to open (the library has an amazing free public display of items from its historical collection that is well worth a visit). The hotel’s late 1800’s exterior speaks to a different time, far removed from the constant flow of traffic along Euston Road.

As I wandered around the building the next morning to take photos, I got to talking with a security guard who was completing his shift. Our conversation ranged from soccer (he had played professionally for a few years) to life in London and the U.S. As we talked, the city around us began waking up as people filled the streets and sidewalks to get to their jobs.

The guard gave me a big hug (something I’m still not used to) and thanked me for keeping him company during the last hour of his shift.

My time in London wasn’t limited to early-morning meanderings. I hope you’ll join me next week for images from a long walk Corie and I took through an older part of the city.

Black and white image of a deserted city street bordered by Georgian-era buildings
Gower Street, London

Black and white image of streetlights reflecting in a wet street at a London intersection
University Street, London


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