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Paramedic Papparazo: Street photography in Peterborough

By Martin Barber
BBC News

image captionChris Porsz images chronicle Peterborough's people throughout the late '70s and '80s
A collection of images salvaged from a "dusty" cupboard, captured through "hours of walking" Peterborough's streets, have revealed a social history of the city's street-life in the 1980s.
Featuring punks and Teddy Boys, to the influx of immigrants from Bangladesh and Eastern Europe into the city - the candid images by 59-year-old paramedic Chris Porsz were shot as moments in "everyday life".
The son of Polish immigrants, Mr Porsz used street photography as a way to improve his amateur photographic skills.
"You never knew what was around the next corner and people do the most amazing things to camera," he said.
"I see the streets as my studio and I just wait for the right characters to walk on."
Mr Porsz stopped taking photographs in the mid-80s. His time became consumed with raising a family with his wife Lesley and building his career as a paramedic.
"I hardly picked up a camera for 25 years but recently my passion has rekindled, he said.
"The pictures were just stored away and got all dusty and scratched, but I started to think it would be nice to share these images with a wider audience."
Mr Porsz's record of the Cambridgeshire new town has now been published in a book called New England.
Nicknamed the Paramedic Papparazo he said: "It's been incredible. It's driven me to walk miles and miles again.
"You never know who you're going to meet and you get these fantastic potted stories of people's histories.
image caption"I photographed punks as people were shocked by them at the time. People with an alternative lifestyle have always interested me," said Mr Porsz.
image captionThree ladies and four trolleys but where is the missing shopper? Mr Porsz said he was also fascinated by the 'owl' on the electric cabinet.
image captionA Peterborough family watching the world go by from their home in Gladstone Street. "I just snapped and moved on," said Mr Porsz.
image caption"This was a spontaneous moment on a girl's night out. I'm in contact with one of them, maybe I'll recreate the picture years later," said Mr Porsz.
image captionMr Porsz said: "This lovely expression was caught while taking a breather in a shopping centre." The New England collection features more than 150 pictures.
"For me street photography is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. I think if you got that extra mile and walk far enough you'll come across something.
"I'm always looking for people who stand out from the crowd - it's why I was attracted the punks I suppose with their red mohicans and all that kind of stuff. It was just looking out for something that would catch the eye."
Mr Porsz said the reaction to New England has "been amazing", but people have also been "shocked to see themselves".
He added: "It's also been quite poignant sometimes as I've met parents who've lost their teenage love one.
"The reaction was bitter-sweet as they were upset to see the image, but at the same time so please to see a picture they never knew existed."

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