Every once in a while, I stumble upon a photography project that stirs up all the emotions in me. It makes me chuckle, then it makes me cry, and it just makes my heart melt. Such is the project Reunions by British photographer Chris Porsz.

Chris photographed people back in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. And during 2020 and 2021, he tracked them down and recreated the photos he took decades ago – one of them being nearly 50 years old. Chris kindly shared his photos with us, and if you ask me, they’re the most heartwarming thing you’ll see today.

Chris was born on 31 January 1953 in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK. His first camera was Kodak Instamatic and he picked it up in 1972 to record a crazy 6,000 three-week hitchhiking trip across Europe and North Africa. He took the trip with his girlfriend Lesley, who became his wife. The couple got married in 1976 and they have three children and seven grandchildren. Their photo together is the oldest in the project: taken in 1973 after the trip, and recreated in 2021.

Original 1973

Reunion 2021

Sadly, the images from the adventurous trip were terrible. The Kodak Instamatic “made camels look like dots in the desert,” so Chris soon got a better camera. He progressed from Zenith, Practika, Olympus Trip to a Canon AE1. “I dropped out of my social worker studies and became a hospital A&E porter for thirteen years,” Chris explains. “On my days off in the early eighties, I roamed the streets seeking inspiration and capturing everyday life by pointing a camera at the society which was much easier and more satisfying than writing long boring essays.” He caught the camera bug, and it never left him since.

“I am a very minor untechnical amateur that just dabbles at it so I have to keep it simple,” Chris writes on his website. “It helps to have good gear but mainly it’s about putting the miles in, being there, and seeing potential.”

“I entered the digital age with a Canon EOS 1000D, 60D, 70D and finally a 5D M111 as I often photograph in low light and adverse weather. I do not use flash and I am hopeless at Photoshop so do minimal editing with the camera software. There is no substitute for getting it right first time in the camera.”

If I may offer personal insight, I believe that this kind of project isn’t about technical flawlessness or groundbreaking editing techniques. Therefore, the lack of Photoshop skills isn’t even an issue in my book. Reunions is all about people and emotions – and oh boy, there are so many emotions in these photos! It’s also about recreating photos in clever ways, like this photo with a donkey. It’s one of Chris’ favorites, and definitely one of my favorites as well.

Original 1981

Reunion 2021

Those of you who enjoy reading and printed images will be happy to learn that Chris is also publishing a book about this project. In fact, it’s the second Reunion photo book. It’s not only filled with heartwarming, funny, incredible, and some sad stories – but Chris also raises funds for Breast Cancer Research from book sales. You can order both the first and the second book through Chris’s website.

And now, let’s take a tour through more amazing photos and their recreations. Make sure to check out Chris’s books as well and catch up with any news on his Facebook.

Original 2021

Reunion 2021: Friends Toni Cray (nee Pignatiello) and Teresa Weston (nee McPartlin) were photographed on the Sizzler at the Town Bridge Fair in Peterborough in 1985. Toni said: “We had just left Stanground Comprehensive School after taking our CSE/GCE exams and a big gang of us went to the fair on the Friday night to celebrate. I was 15 and Teresa was 16. It was an absolutely brilliant night, and it was really our last night before adulthood. We didn’t have proms in those days so we went to the fair instead. Seeing the photo Chris had taken brought back all my memories from that night. We got there about 5 pm and went on loads of rides and I remember some of the lads going in the tunnel which spins.”

Original 1980

Reunion 2021: Brothers Mark and Matt Court (left to right) were photographed eating chips in a pram while their mum went shoe shopping in Bridge Street in Peterborough. Matt said: “We had no idea the picture had been taken, a friend saw it on Facebook and recognised me. When my mum saw it she loved it and was very emotional. I think I was about 12 months in the photo and Mark was about two-and-a-half. We think mum was shopping for cowboy boots for our dad.” Mark and Matt both went to school with Chris Porsz’s children. They now live in Birmingham, where Matt is a carpenter and Mark, who is married with three boys, is a head teacher of a primary school. Matt is moving back to Peterborough soon.
He added: “It was great to go back and re-create the photo and catch up with family. I’ve got a copy of the picture on my wall now.” The shoe shop is now a Ladbrokes. Thanks to Sally Wells for loaning the pram for the reunion photo and the Salvation Army Superstore in Long Causeway for the props.

Original circa 1984

Reunion 2020: Gloria Steele loved her job as a lollipop lady at Queen’s Drive School in Dogsthorpe Road in Peterborough. She helped the children cross the road three times a day for seven years during the 1980’s. Gloria, who has a son and a daughter, later worked as a carer in the community for the NHS until she retired.
“It was great fun re-creating the photo in uniform with a new lollipop pole and I had not lost my touch as the cars kept stopping, so it brought back lots of happy memories. We had a good laugh and it was lovely to see the girls all grown up.”

Original 1981

Reunion 2020: Howard and Sharon Marshall (nee Bird) were spotted by Chris browsing wedding rings at Ernest Jones on Cathedral Square in Peterborough in the Spring of 1981. The couple met on a night out at The White Lion pub in the city in 1976 and got married at St John’s Church in Stanground in November 1981. They had their reception at London Brick’s Phorpres Social Club and a two-week honeymoon in Tenerife.
The pair, who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2021, bought their first house in Peterborough in 1980, but spent a year renovating it before moving in together after they got married. Sharon worked for SodaStream after leaving school, then in 1984 she became a stay-at-home mum. Howard worked as an engineer for Royal Mail for nearly 40 years until retiring seven years ago.

Original 1980

Reunion 2021: Amanda Bayford (nee Phillips), Pamela Albanezi (nee Bevilacqua), Lisa Springthorpe, Carmelina January (nee Bevilacqua), and Karen Pycroft (left to right) were out on the town in Peterborough wearing their fur coats in 1980.
Karen Pycroft, who had three daughters, died aged 47 and her sister, Helen, stood in for her in the reunion photo. She has two sons and a daughter. She said: “It was lovely to recreate the picture on behalf of Karen.”
Amanda Bayford (nee Phillips), Pamela Albanezi (nee Bevilacqua), Lisa Springthorpe, Carmelina January (nee Bevilacqua), and Karen Pycroft (left to right) were out on the town in Peterborough wearing their fur coats in 1980.
Amanda was waiting for her boyfriend Mick, who later became her husband, in the town square and photobombed the picture as she knew the other girls from school. She said: “I would have been about 18. I think it must have been a Saturday night and I was waiting for Mick.” The pair met in 1978 and have now been together for more than 40 years. Amanda has worked part-time at a school for the last 20 years, still lives in Peterborough, and has three children.
Pamela lived in America for 22 years and returned to Peterborough in June 2006. She has three children and now works nights as a cleaner at the hospital. She said: “We would have been on a pub crawl in Peterborough. I was best friends with Helen Pycroft, but she remained at home and her sister Karen joined us that night. I’m still great friends with Helen, we’re like soul mates.”
Lisa said: “I was about 15 in the picture and best friends with Karen. The others were all a little older than us but we were all good friends, lived near each other and grew up together. They were some of the best years of my life.” Lisa, who has a fiancé and now lives in Downham Market, said she lost touch with the girls over the years but they plan to meet up now they are back in touch. She added: “It was lovely to see them all again.” Thanks to Alison Lynn for loaning Lisa her mother’s coat.
Pamela’s sister, Carmelina January, has lived in Lowestoft for 24 years and has two children. She said: “I was 17 in the picture and would have been potato and onion picking at that time. There are only 11 months between me and Pamela so we call ourselves twins for one month of the year. Helen had a baby so she didn’t come out that night and her sister Karen came out instead. I remember we wore rabbit fur coats.” Carmelina has worked in a school kitchen for the last 20 years. She added: “I tried to leave but my children loved the hours I worked and the fact I had the long school holidays with them so I stayed.” Her daughter lent her a fur coat for the reunion photo. She still sees Helen a lot and all the friends are planning another catch-up soon.
Karen Pycroft, who had three daughters, died aged 47 and her sister, Helen, stood in for her in the reunion photo. She has two sons and a daughter. She said: “It was lovely to recreate the picture on behalf of Karen.”

Original Christmas Eve 1980

Reunion 2020: Rhyder Hunt and Julie Gracey (nee Davies) were snapped snogging in Cathedral Square in Peterborough on Christmas Eve 1980. They were part of a group who hung out together at scooter rallies and liked Northern Soul.

Original 1980

Reunion 2021: Tracey Johnson (nee Beard) was shopping at Baileys Bakery in Midgate with her sister Jeanette Clifton and her mum Margaret when Chris photographed her looking at a Christmas cake in the window. She said: “I think I was about three. We often went to the bakery and mum would get all our birthday cakes from there. I think she may have been buying a Christmas cake on this occasion.” Tracey had no idea her picture had been taken but spotted it in Chris’s weekly newspaper column. She added: “I contacted Chris and he was really pleased as he said he’d been looking for me for seven years.” Tracey is an assistant manager at Motor Factors and is married with a daughter. Baileys Bakery is now closed, so the reunion was done outside The Cake Box in Cromwell Road in Peterborough. Thanks to the Cake Box shop for their help.

Original 1980

Reunion 2021: Paul Smith was photographed standing in front of a Ford Cortina in Cobden Street, Peterborough in 1980. He worked as a porter at Peterborough District Hospital for 12 years from 1978, some of that time with Chris Porsz. He said: “The photo was taken outside my flat and it was my neighbour’s car.” Paul has two children and is a DJ on local radio station, Peterborough Community Radio. Chris struggled to find a similar Cortina as they are very rare but a friend contacted him to say he had spotted a red one on a drive. Chris knocked on the door and owners, Maurice and Joan Bradford, were very happy to provide their Ford Cortina Mk 5 Crusader for the reunion photo. Chris added: “I had asked Paul to dress colourfully to bring the old mono picture alive and as you can see he didn’t disappoint!”

Original 1982

Reunion 2021:Mates (left to right) Romell Yearwood, Ryan Wiltshire (now Rayan Abdel Raheem) and Stephen Moore are pictured on Cathedral Square in 1982. Mark Allan (wearing cap) moved away and was not available for the reunion picture.

Original 1981

Reunion 2021: Friends Muhammad Bashir and Abdul Karim (aka Uncle Paloo), were pictured walking past a house in Gladstone Street, Peterborough in 1980. The men both lived nearby. Abdul worked in the brickyards and a paper mill close to Peterborough in the 1970s and later went into car sales. He has been in poor health for over a decade, lives in Nottingham and has nine children. Chris said: “His eyes lit up and he had a big smile on his face when he was
reunited again with his old friend after many years.”
Muhammad was the youngest of six siblings who all lived in Pakistan and came to the UK in 1979. He worked at London Brick Company in Peterborough during the week and on a clothes stall in the market at weekends. He purchased his first property in 1982 and got married in 1983. Muhammad, who has four daughters and a son, is a massive cricket fan. His daughter Nafeesa Kauser said: “He’s passed his love of cricket onto me and my siblings and we’ll often watch cricket matches together. He is also very passionate about helping others and will go above and beyond to do so.” He is currently working part time and is enjoying the rest of his time as a grandfather.

Original 1984

Reunion 2020: Joe Wright was often seen around Peterborough with pet Barn Owl Rocky perched on his shoulder and Chris took a photo of him at a country and western show in 1984. He said: “We hand-reared several rescue Barn Owls and I’d take Rocky into town on my shoulder, which made people smile. He was called Rocky because he rocked his head from side to side when he was happy. People would come up and stroke him, he was very tame and never tried to fly away. He used to live in my bedroom and when my alarm went off he would nibble my ear until I got out of bed.” Eventually Rocky and the other owls moved to the garden shed, but one day someone broke into the shed and released them. Joe said: “They thought they were saving the owls, but they were hand-reared so couldn’t live in the wild. It was very sad.” Joe, who still lives in Peterborough and works for Perkins Engines, went to The Exotic Pet Refuge in Deeping St James for the reunion picture and posed with Sparkle the Barn Owl. He added: “We’ve got dogs, guinea pigs, and goldfish now. It was lovely to have an owl on my shoulder again and brought back great memories.”

Original 1981

Reunion 2021: The Ancol vs Broadgate football match at The Grange in Mayors Walk, Peterborough in 1981.
Goalkeeper Andy Pilgrem (on the ground) played for Broadgate for five years. He said: “I was always in goal, it was a fun league and we were successful.” He is widowed, with three children, and runs a cleaning company in Peterborough. Ben Tolomeo (left) played as a striker for Ancol for a couple of years and later for Broadgate. He played in a number
of other Saturday and Sunday league teams, including Stilton, Oundle Town, Brotherhoods and Crosfield. He now works as a customer service officer at Queensgate Shopping Centre, has been married for 35 years and has two children. Bob Latimer (middle) played as right back for Broadgate for 14 years, then played for Belmore. He has worked as a locksmith for 35 years, lives in Peterborough, and has one son and two step-sons.

Original 1980

Reunion 2021: Ice cream seller Genesio Borrillo (aka Gino) is pictured in Cromwell Road serving Zahida Parveen. He bought an ice cream van when he moved to Peterborough from Italy and travelled around the city in the summer selling ice creams. In 1992 he set up a pasta shop in Peterborough, which he still runs with his wife Clara and daughter Lucia. He has three children and four grandchildren. Zahida said: “I used to live near Cromwell Road and I’d often buy an ice cream from Gino, I usually had a cone with strawberry drizzle and sometimes a chocolate flake. I think I was about seven in the photo.” Zahida still lives in Peterborough and has three children and a grandson. She added: “It was lovely having my picture taken again.”
Gino and Zahida’s 1980 picture appeared in Reunions 1 but with just Gino outside his pasta shop in 2014 as the girl could not be found. Chris added: “It was wonderful to find Zahida and to be able to reunite her again with Gino in the same location 41 years later.” Thanks to Israr for the ice cream van.

Original 1989

Reunion August 2020: Paul Yates was a street cleaner in Peterborough for 20 years until he was medically pensioned in 2006. He was photographed using the “Green Frog” cleaning machine in Lower Bridge Street in 1989. Paul, who is married with three children, returned to the same street for the reunion photo with the city council’s new cleaning machine, “The Glutton.” Paul, who still lives in Peterborough, has been running Viking reenactment group, Clan Wulfhar, for 30 years and gives talks to schools around the country. They also put on encampments with 20 tents and act out big battles around the country.

Original 1983

Reunion 2020: Four lads (left to right) Greg Brown, Dave Kennedy, Dave Baines and Neil Tucker were photographed in Cathedral Square in Peterborough. They have all stayed in touch over the years. Greg, who has a daughter, said: “We were all good mates and used to meet up on Saturdays. We’d often go to gigs together in Peterborough, London, Leeds and Nottingham. I think I was about 18 when the original photo was taken.”
Dave is now married with three children and four grandchildren. He has been working as a foreman for Peterborough City Council for 21 years. He added: “I was a pyschobilly and think I was about 21 when the original picture was taken.” Dave, who was also a psychobilly said: “The four of us and another couple of guys used to hang around together all the time. It was the time of Margaret Thatcher so there wasn’t much work around and a lot of us were unemployed. Dave has been with his partner for 25 years and works as a grounds maintenance operative for Peterborough City Council, alongside Dave Kennedy. Neil said: “They were fun times, things were very different back then, we were young and had
no responsibilities. We used to go to gigs and parties and have fun and not have to worry about getting up early the next morning for work.” Neil still lives in Peterborough and works in a warehouse. He is married, with two children and a grandson. He added: “We’re all still in touch, mostly by Facebook. After the reunion photo we all went for a drink afterwards and it was great to catch up.

[via Bored Panda]

By Indana