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Awake in the Slumbering City: Photographs of Paris and London at Dawn

article-imageEiffel Tower at dawn (photograph by Anthony Epes)

Most of us rarely see the dawn except in slits of sunlight seeping through our windows. Yet photographer Anthony Epes has spent more than a decade seeking out that tantalizing first light in cities around Europe. Now with his wife Diana Bird he’s working to publish two books on his early morning photography — Paris at Dawn and London at Dawn — with a Kickstarter project.

The project is just prior to an exhibition of the photographs in St Pancras station in London, one of his beginning-of-the-day muses. While it’s the lighting in the photographs that draws you in — a light that is soft and gradually shifting through reddish hues that turn to blue — it’s the details of the street scenes that are most interesting as a glimpse into the dawn of a busy city. There are the street cleaners wandering in front of the monuments, and also the butchers bringing in the day’s meat and the stray artist who has dragged out a canvas to capture another version of daybreak. There’s also a sense of expectancy, where you know that the peaceful staircase will soon pulse over with movement and the glare of the sun will chase away the lingering shadows.  

As Anthony Epes told Atlas Obscura:

With London at Dawn and Paris at Dawn I wanted to capture the many sides of these cities — both the intense beauty of these iconic cities, as well as the grittiness that threads its way through the streets.

Millions of us live in cities around the world. They can be fast, chaotic, aggressive places. Sometimes, as we live our lives in these intense urban areas, we lose something: the ability to notice the beauty in our surroundings. I wanted to make people fall in love with their cities again.

Seeing deserted streets at the magic hour of dawn can completely change the way we look at our city. Something truly amazing happens at this time of day. For a few brief moments, Mother Nature gives us a glimpse of the miraculous. An awe-inspiring light show while millions of people are still asleep. 

Here’s a selection of photographs by Epes of Paris and London at dawn:

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On the Seine in Paris 
(photograph by Anthony Epes)

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Artists in Paris out at dawn 
(photograph by Anthony Epes)

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A Paris butcher shop 
(photograph by Anthony Epes)

article-imagePetite Ceinture (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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The Seine (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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Steps in Montmartre (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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A Paris bridge (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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Old Billingsgate Walk in London (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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View to St. Paul’s in London (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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Piccadilly Circus (photograph by Anthony Epes)

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Millennium Bridge (photograph by Anthony Epes)

article-imageThe Thames (photograph by Anthony Epes)

The Kickstarter for London and Paris at Dawn by Anthony Epes and Diana Bird is funding through September 29. Click here to see more of Paris at Dawn and here to see more of London at Dawn