Photography is mighty, as it captures a moment, and makes it history. It encompasses time and mortality. It is a storyteller, that can transport us to our past.
Over three decades after he walked around the city of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire (Great Britain), and took pictures of random people he encountered, street photographer and paramedic, Chris Porsz has tracked down the same subjects and recreated the photos.
‘I would often be drawn by certain expressions on people’s faces or a fleeting moment. It became quite addictive. I liked taking photos of people who stood out from the crowd, things which were a bit different, quirky, or fun.’
Yet, years later, in 2009, he found his old pictures, and sent some to his local paper, The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, in the hope to track the people he once took photos of down.
According to his website, “some were easy, some were hard, some were impossible to find. When he was successful, Chris arranged a reunion at the location of the original photograph and took another picture.”
Some of the subjects recognized themselves after he published their pictures in local and national papers, on Facebook, and on his website.
Now, his collection consists of 135 beautiful reunions and shows characters from all layers of society. He said that he felt privileged and satisfied “to do so many reunions and seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they met up with old friends again. “
The book of the ‘paramedic paparazzo,’, titled ‘Reunions’, also involves texts by writer Jo Riley, who told the stories of the people in the pictures.
“This book has been nearly 40 years in the making and I believe the project is totally unique. I don’t think anyone else has tracked down so many strangers and recreated photos in this way before.”
Here are some of them:
1. Dog And Tina (1985 And 2015)
Tina Tarr, 18, and her partner Dog were pictured near the Cathedral in Peterborough. They left the city in the 1990s to travel. They have twins and eventually separated. Tina now lives in Dorset and makes willow products and hosts weaving workshops, while her ex lives in South West Wales, and does hedge laying and gardening.
2. Railway Kiss (1980 And 2009)
A year before they got married, Tony Wilmot was saying goodbye to his girlfriend Sally at Peterborough Railway Station. Tony worked as a teacher in Essex, and Sally was based in Stafford as a local government officer. They are now both headteachers and live in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and have two children, Tom and Jenny.
3. Five Boys Running (1987 And 2016)
Andy works for the Royal Mail in Werrington, near Peterborough, Richard is now an electrician, and Tony James works as a stone cutter. Aaron works at Ikea, while Devinder moved to Yorkshire and works for the Housing Association.
4. Pink Mohican (1985 And 2016)
Punk Badger Farcue won the Pizza Eating Competition in Cathedral Square, as he managed to eat his 12-inch cheese and tomato pizza in about two minutes. He moved to Somerset in 1991, and he now has five children and tarmacs roads.
5. Sisters (1980 And 2013)
The three sisters, Shehnaz Begum, her twin sister Rukhsana and their older sister Itrat, often sat in the window of their house on Cromwell Road.
Shehnaz said: ‘We often used to perch in the window and watch what was going on in the road. My twin sister and I were about seven and Itrat was nine. We loved riding our bikes with the other children in the street and were good friends with another set of twins. Mum said we were quite a handful’.
The three of them still live in Peterborough.
6. Good Friends (1980 And 2015)
The four men are still good friends and gladly accepted the offer to recreate the photo.
7. Metal Mickey (1980 And 2016)
Steve Osborn, known as Metal Mickey in the 1980s, broke both his legs several times in motorbiking accidents and had plates and bolts put in them. He now lives in Spalding, Lincolnshire. He is married, and plays the guitar with different bands and has raised more than £20,000 for the National Association of Bikers with a Disability.
8. Jewelry Assistant (1990 And 2015)
Vicki Gracey (nee Frost) worked as a sales assistant at a jewelry store in Queensgate Shopping Centre for two years. She remained in the city, got married, and has two children.
9. Friends (1982 And 2011)
Penny, three sisters Sarah, Louise, Carole, and Juliette. Alison, last on the right, took the place of her sister Juliette in the reunion photo, as she had passed away.
10. David Harvey And Tim Goodman (1980 And 2010)
David Harvey became Chief Superintendent, while Tim Goodman is a successful businessman and has six children.
11. County School Girls (1979 And 2016)
Sandra Williams, Carmen Chin, and Maureen Mayers went to the County Grammar School. Over the years, they lost touch. Carmen said: ‘I think we were the first year to go to the grammar school after it changed from being a comprehensive. We’d had freezing cold weather and we were playing tag and I slipped over on the ice’.
12. Pin Badges (1970 And 2013)
John Church, Gary Beckett, Ade Lawrence, and Pippa Hodgson were pictured in Cathedral Square, wearing pin badges. John, who works as a painter and decorator, explained: ‘The other lads were school friends and Pippa was a mutual friend. We used to hang out together and listen to punk music. I think I was about 15 and on the verge of becoming a punk.’
13. Ice Creams (1981 And 2015)
Donna Yarnell was five, and her brother Steven was three, and they were licking ice creams in their front garden. They still live in the city, but their family moved out of the house two years later.
14. Tasbir’s First Job (1982 And 2016)
For 4 years after leaving school, Tasbir Singh worked on a stall at the market. He still lives in the city, and is married with three children and four grandchildren.
15. Before And After 40 Years
16. lan Medler And Peter Yates (1980 And 2010)
17. Eating Chips (1983 And 2016)
School friends Martin Coulson (left) and Andy Randall were eating chips. Martin remembers: ‘I think it must have been a Saturday and we’d been to the chip shop. The chips were a bit like McDonald’s fries and were always good. We were probably going around the toy shops together as we had a Scalextric track’.
18. Flute Player (1986 And 2015)
Neil wandered around the center and played the flute outside the Co-op bank in Westgate for years. When the book went to print, no one had seen him for several months.
19. Hairdressers Shop (1980 And 2016)
In the picture, Sandra Burford was going into a hairdresser’s. Now, she is widowed and has a daughter and three grandsons.
20. Double Bubble (1980 And 2012)
Sisters Anna (left) and Emma Hankins were waiting for their mum, who was shopping, and blew bubbles with Hubba Bubba bubblegum in Bridge Street. They remained in the city, both went on to have careers in hairdressing, and are now married and have families.
21. Trudi And Dave Talbot (1980 And 2010)
22. Ice Cream Seller (1980 And 2014)
When he moved from Italy, Genesio (Gino) Borrillo bought an ice cream van and traveled around the city selling ice-cream. He still runs a pasta shop with his daughter.
23. Xenia Gordon (1983 And 2011)
24. Good For Teeth And Bones (1983 And 2014)
Layla Gordon drinks her daily bottle of milk at Queens Drive Infants School. She joked that she still loves milk, “ but sadly. it’s not free anymore.’
25. Butcher (1980 And 2015)
Richard Price left school at 15 and started work at the butchers. He worked there for 3 years, and he now works as an entertainer.
26. Star Road (1982 And 2014)
Sisters Maria (left) and Annamarie Plavecz were photographed in Star Road. They now work as carers.
27. Five Boys (80’s And 2011)
Phillip Boardman is sitting, Stuart Beach is behind him. Martin Bridges with shades in the first picture was not available. Ricky Clarke is in the blue top, and Christopher Jackson, who was at the door, died.
28. Nobby (1980 And 2015)
Scotsman Michael Ross, known as Nobby, lived in a bus shelter for 10 years after his house burnt down. He eventually went into sheltered housing and left his bus shelter home.
29. Before And After 40 Years
30. Queuing For The Phone (1981 And 2016)
The three school friends, John Morris, Paul Barnard, and Andrew Pollard, queued up to use the phone in Cattle Market Road. They often hang out together at weekends and cycled into the city center on their bikes. Now, John works locally as a plumber, Paul works for a motor racing team, and Andrew lives in Essex and works as a window cleaner.