Snapshots of life on city streets Â

Do you recognise yourself on any of these photographs?

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 10:48 am
Updated Thursday, 13th December 2018, 10:50 am

They were taken by  Chris Porsz, an amateur photographer who spent eight years walking the streets snapping candid pictures of colourful characters. Hundreds of his favourites, including some from Sheffield, were published in his recently published book called Streets of Britain.

And now, he'd like those featured to get in touch. He said:  I  had a fantastic response from some of the characters who were delighted to see that they had featured in my book but I would love to find more.

'At the time of taking their picture I promised them a print but they did not reply so perhaps this would be a great opportunity for them to come forward.

'Some of the characters may just have been visiting but many will be residents.

'I'd particularly like to make contact with the student in the green tracksuit running through the fountain. I asked him to do it again so I could get a better shot and he duly obliged '“ getting wet-through in the process.'

Chris, who was a student in Sheffield for a brief time in the 1970s has a soft spot for the city and made three visits to take the photographs in his book '“  October 2011, February 2018 and April 2018.

He particularly wanted to include a football-themed photograph and he came across the Millwall fan framed by police officers outside the Cricketers Arms who gestured just as Chris clicked the shutter.

Chris, who is a paramedic, walked hundreds of miles around 25 cities, taking quirky pictures of everyday life, from pensioners and party-goers to sellers and singers and buskers to bikers.

The photos offer a unique snapshot of life in Britain today, with pictures of people singing, screaming and scooting, dancing, driving and dressing up and running, relaxing and racing.

'I have walked many miles over the years, unsure exactly what I am looking for but I just know when I see it and then '˜snap!,' said Chris, who comes from Peterborough.

'It's usually something surreal, bizarre, someone a bit eccentric who stands out from the madding crowd or everyday people caught up in some humorous interaction. I like bringing a smile to people's faces.'

After dropping out of Sheffield Polytechnic in 1974, Chris took a temporary job as a hospital porter and 13 years later was still there, joining the ambulance service in 1988. Thirty years later he says he finds it immensely satisfying and rewarding.

He caught the photography bug after buying a camera when his first child Simon was born in 1978.

Chris began walking the streets of his Peterborough for inspiration and quickly developed a passion for street photography. He later decided to hone his craft by visiting other cities.

'Over the years I've tried to visit as many cities as possible. I'll spend hours walking around, taking hundreds of photos and often deleting lots too,' he said.

'Sometimes I set my stage and waited for someone to walk past, such as with a billboard or a statue. Other times I managed to snap unusual interactions that most people would just blindly walk past.

'Some cities were full of characters, such as Brighton, and it was easy to get lots of good pictures, but others I had to keep returning to until I got what I needed. I've tried to capture a snapshot of a day in each of the cities.'

Chris said sometimes it would be frustrating if someone walked in front of the camera at the wrong time or he missed the moment, but other pictures would then make up for it.

He added: 'My near misses would fill another book, but any moments of dejection and self-doubt are soon forgotten when I see a man in Newcastle wearing a pink suit and a horse's head, or a pensioner walking around Nottingham with an owl on his arm, as you do.

'I cannot resist snapping drunken hens and their inevitable '˜here I am, tadar!' pose. Every town too has its fire and brimstone brigade so I just wait patiently for a '˜sinner' to come along to make a lucky juxtaposition.'

Chris said his work as a paramedic at Peterborough City Hospital helped with his street photography as he was able to 'reassure complete strangers' and 'react instinctively to the unexpected.'

Sometimes Chris would talk to the subjects of his photos and discover an even more exciting story. The front cover of his book is one of his favourites.

'The lady was about 90 and lived in Peterborough and was describing how as a young girl on Bonfire Night she set off a rocket and it went through the window of a policeman's house and burnt it down.

'Although it looks like she is giving the finger, she is actually putting her finger up to demonstrate the rocket going in the air.'

This is Chris' fourth book. His first, New England came out in 2012 and dealt with ' the promised opportunities and harsh realities of life in a new town during an often overlooked era'. His second book Reunions, released two years ago, reunited people he had photographed on the streets 40 years earlier. Despite having no contact details he managed to find and photograph 134 individuals or groups of people. And last year he published Streets of Europe, a culmination of his travels around 25 European capitals.

Contact Chris on www.chrisporsz.com. See page 55 for more of his pictures.