Street photographer Chris Porsz’s book Reunions is a labour of love. For seven years Chris turned detective and managed to track down more than a hundred people who had been subjects of his early photographs. With their help, he then recreated the scenes to produce an incredible collection of “then and now” images.
The photographs are complemented with text by writer Jo Riley who offers some insight into the people in front of the camera.
Chris’s interest in photography originally grew out of the simple desire to take better family photos but soon developed into a passion.
He even turned his living room into a darkroom. During the 70s, 80s and 90s he took to the streets of his home turf of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, England to capture moments of everyday life in the city. In this, he followed in the tradition of the great French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, regarded as the father of street photography.
The young couple saying goodbye at Peterborough train station were clearly oblivious to the presence of the photographer who snapped their romantic farewell in 1980.
They only saw the photograph for the first time many years later. The couple recreated the same scene in 2006. They have now been married for more than thirty years and have two grown-up children.
It was a huge achievement to track down so many of the original subjects. But of course, there were many reasons why some could not be contacted.
So, there is something very poignant about the group of young women photographed with their take away lunches in 1982.
By the time Chris contacted members of the group in 2011, sadly one of them had passed away. But her sister was happy to take her place in the updated version so the friends could be photographed together again.
No Back Brake
In 1980 Chris caught the image of a policeman talking to a schoolboy with a cheeky grin. It looks like the two are having a friendly chat rather than anything more serious, which is just as well since they were to meet and be photographed together again in 2010.
The schoolboy, now older and balder, is a successful businessman. The policeman, who rose to become Chief Superintendent, is no longer in uniform as he is now enjoying his retirement from the force.
More often than not the before and after pictures show the youthful and wild behaviour left behind as the subject grows older. But not in the case of Metal Micky.
The well-known local character who spends time fundraising for a disabled bikers’ charity owes his nickname to the metal plates inserted into his legs following several motorbike accidents.
The sedate young man making his way along the rainy street on crutches in 1980 has been replaced by a middle-aged purple-haired biker cheerfully wielding his walking sticks for the camera in 2016.
This is only a small selection of the many pairs of images captured in the book which is available from Chris’s website http://www.chrisporsz.com/
Chris took a break from photography while getting on with the everyday routine of bringing up a family and earning a living as a paramedic. He later returned to his art with renewed passion.
But not only did he return to the streets to take more photographs; he returned to those very same streets where he had taken photographs years before in order to complete the extraordinary project which became his book Reunions.
The images range from poignant to funny and form a fascinating document on the passage of time in the lives of both people and places.
On his website, Chris states that his intention as a photographer is to “fascinate and provoke mixed emotions to unique moments of time captured in fleeting expressions on a face.” In Reunions, he certainly succeeds in doing that.