Chris Porsz, a British photographer, is well known for his innovative “Reunions” project, which records the daily lives of individuals in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Thought to be a reference to straightforward street photography, Porsz has been working on his project for more than 40 years.
His project is unique since it features the same subjects posing in the same locations years after the original photograph was taken. For the past fifteen months, Chris has been hard at work on part 2 of his “Reunions” project. The initial images date back as far as the 1970s.
In his photography book “Reunions 2”, Chris said, “For many, seeing a snapshot of their younger selves brought back wonderful recollections of a day they had forgotten.” Many people were happy to have a photograph of themselves during a memorable period that would not have been captured otherwise.
Thank you so much to the people who used to be strangers but are now my friends and who let me share their interesting lives with you so that Reunions 2 could happen.
In order to document a chaotic three-week hitchhiking adventure across Europe and North Africa with my then-girlfriend Lesley, I bought my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, in 1972. The pictures were poor, so I bought a better camera to snap pictures of my family, and I soon developed a passion for photography.
I quit my social work program and worked as an A&E porter at a hospital for thirteen years. Early in the 1980s, instead of writing lengthy, tedious articles, I spent my free time wandering the streets looking for inspiration and recording everyday life by pointing a camera at society.
I still find it pretty magical that I can capture a moment in time and satisfy a creative urge with the click of a button.
Lets move to that amazing captures
1. Gino, Mr. (Original 1980–Reunion May 2021)
Pictured here serving Zahida Parveen in Cromwell Road is ice cream vendor Genesio Borrillo (also known as Gino). When he relocated from Italy to Peterborough, he acquired an ice cream van and spent the summer driving around the city selling ice cream. He opened a pasta shop in Peterborough in 1992, and he now operates it with the help of his wife, Clara, and daughter Lucia. He has four grandchildren and three children.
“When I lived close to Cromwell Road, I frequently visited Gino for ice cream, ordering a cone with strawberry drizzle and occasionally a chocolate flake.” Zahida recalled.I believe my age was around seven in the picture. Zahida, who has three children and a grandson, continues to reside in Peterborough. It was nice to get my photo taken again, she continued.
In Reunions 1, a photo of Gino and Zahida from 1980 showed simply Gino outside his pasta restaurant in 2014 because the girl could not be located. “It was great to find Zahida and be able to reconcile her with Gino in the same place 41 years later,” Chris continued. We appreciate Israr for the ice cream truck.
2. Toyota Corolla (Original 1980–Reunion June 2021)
In 1980, an image of Paul Smith in Cobden Street, Peterborough, was taken in front of a Ford Cortina. He spent 12 years as a porter at Peterborough District Hospital, spending some of that time alongside Chris Porsz. He stated: “My neighbor’s automobile appeared in the picture, which was shot outside my apartment.” Paul is a DJ for the nearby radio station Peterborough Community Radio and a father of two kids. Because they are so uncommon, Chris struggled to find a Cortina that looked like it, but a buddy got in touch with him and said he had seen a red one while driving.
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When Chris knocked on their door, Maurice and Joan Bradford, the home’s owners, were delighted to lend their Ford Cortina Mk 5 Crusader for the reunion shot. As you can see, Paul did not disappoint when Chris said, “I had requested Paul to dress colorfully to bring the old monochrome photo alive.”
3. Stick and Carrot (Original 1981–Reunion July 2021)
After 58 years of marriage, Bernard and Irene, who reside in Lincolnshire close to Stamford, have two daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He has been painting with oil for the past 30 years. He also has a collection of picture-covered tins, which he has accumulated over the course of 13 years and has displayed in his house.
Chris remarked: “It was one of the funniest and most strange reunions I’ve ever done. Thanks to Vanessa and Jerry Rice of Four Acres of Thorney in the Peterborough area, who kindly gave 10-year-old Jessica and Bernard, who were fantastic sports and up for a fun day. They also had four other donkeys named Dyliss, Molly, Ronnie, and Reggie, all of which kept trying to get the carrots.
4. Always Prepared (Original 1980 – August 2020 Reunion)
Adalat Khan and Amir Baz, brothers who operated a newsagent in Peterborough’s Cobden Street/Cromwell Road from 1979 to 1996, were captured on camera in 1980. They still reside in Peterborough even though they are retired. Amir is married with a son and a daughter, while Adalat is married with two sons.
As you can tell by their faces, Chris continued, “They liked coming back behind the counter and wanted to stay to serve a few more customers.”
5. Fired Up (Original Circa 1981 – August 2020 Reunion)
Tim Davies spent the first five years of the 1980s working as a blacksmith at a forge at Thorpe Hall in Peterborough, which is now a Sue Ryder hospice. He claimed he seized the opportunity because it was something he had always wanted to do. I picked up skills on the job and enjoyed every aspect of it. Learning this talent was fun and incredibly fulfilling. Later, he spent two years working out of Grimsby on extremely risky deep-sea fishing trawlers in Greenland and other places.
I returned home for a more established, safer, and quieter existence, so I became a security guard in the neighborhood work center. I am a friendly person, and I like getting to know and helping people. Tim, who has a daughter named Gwendoline, retired in 2012 and frequents the Wortley Almshouses, where he takes pleasure in real ale and his friends’ companionship.
For his 2020 class reunion photo, Tim visited a forge in the Thorney community, where he ran with blacksmith John Downing. “I noticed the forge, and it started tugging at my heartstrings; it brought back so many wonderful memories,” he continued.
6. Enjoying The Fair (Original 1985–Reunion May 2021)
Friends At the Town Bridge Fair in Peterborough in 1985, Teresa Weston (née McPartlin) and Toni Cray (née Pignatiello) were captured on camera riding the Sizzler. According to Toni, a large group of us went to the fair on the Friday night to celebrate leaving Stanground Comprehensive School after finishing our CSE/GCE exams. Teresa was 16 and I was 15.
It was actually our last night together before becoming adults, and it was an absolutely fantastic night. We went to the fair because there were no proms back then. All of my memories from that night came flooding back when I saw the snapshot Chris had taken. We arrived there at around 5 o’clock and rode a ton of attractions. I recall some of the guys riding through the spinning tunnel.
7. Popsicle Lady (originally released in 1984; re-released in September 2020)
Gloria Steele cherished her position as the Queen’s Drive School’s lollipop lady on Dogsthorpe Road in Peterborough. For seven years in the 1980s, she assisted the kids in crossing the street three times every day. Before she retired, Gloria, who had a son and a daughter, worked for the NHS as a community caregiver.
“Recreating the image in uniform with a new lollipop pole was a lot of fun, and I hadn’t lost my touch because the cars continued stopping. It brought back many pleasant memories. We laughed a lot, and it was great to see the girls becoming older.
8. Original 1985 – September 2020 Reunion)
In 1985, Chris came across friends Johnny Crawford, Trudy Larkinson, Sandra Wilson-Bailey, and Tom Bray (from left to right) sitting on a bench in Bridge Street, Peterborough.
9. Mates (Original 1982 – April 2021 Reunion)
In Cathedral Square in 1982, friends Romell Yearwood, Ryan Wiltshire (now Rayan Abdel Raheem), and Stephen Moore can be seen (from left to right). Since moving away, Mark Allan (cap) was absent from the reunion photo.
10.Owl and Burger (Original 1984 – August 2020 Reunion)
Joe Wright and his pet Barn Owl were frequently spotted around Peterborough. At a 1984 country and western performance, Chris shot a picture of Rocky while he was perched on his shoulder. “We hand-reared several rescued Barn Owls, and I’d carry Rocky around town on my shoulder, which always brought a grin to people’s faces,” he said.
Rocky got his nickname because when he was delighted, he would rock his head back and forth. He was very gentle and never attempted to fly away, so people would approach him and pet him.
He used to reside in my bedroom and would nip at my ear until I got out of bed when my alarm went off. Rocky and the other owls were eventually relocated to the garden shed, but one day someone broke in and let them out. They believed they were protecting the owls, but because they were hand-reared, they couldn’t survive in the wild, according to Joe.
It was incredibly sad. Joe, who continues to reside in Peterborough and is employed by Perkins Engines, visited The Exotic Pet Refuge in Deeping St. James for the family portrait and sat alongside Sparkle the Barn Owl. He continued, “We now have dogs, guinea pigs, and goldfish. Having an owl on my shoulder again was beautiful and brought back wonderful memories.
See the next 10 40-year-old portraits of strangers here : Chris Porsz Recreates his Portraits of Strangers From 40 Years Ago – Part 2