Whately photographer Douglas Potoksky hand-delivers latest book of Boston Marathon bombing memorials to this year’s race winners

Last modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WHATELY — After the Boston Marathon on Monday, Douglas Potoksky of Whately headed to the House of Blues.

He had just held a book signing for his new book of photographs, “Remember Boston: The Boston Marathon Bombing Memorials” and was given tickets to attend a private party.

He held two copies of his new book. As he entered the entertainment venue he was surrounded by thousands of runners.

A few minutes later, he was standing in the private room beside Meb Keflezighi and Rita Jeptoo, the male and female Boston Marathon winners. He gave the runners each a copy of his book, fulfilling his one goal that night.

“It was like a dream,” Potoksky said.

It was one year ago that Potoksky, slinging his camera, headed back to his former home, where he captured the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing memorials before the artifacts were removed by the Boston Archives.

His new book of 128 color photographs was released on April 21. It was designed and published by Green Circle Press of Whately.

“I was trying to put something positive out there. It shows the care and love people had for the victims,” Potoksky said. “I wanted to honor the victims, Boston and the runners.”

Potoksky will have a book signing at the S. White Dickinson Library at 7 p.m. May 6.

The night at the House of Blues was the end of a busy three days for the Whately man.

Potoksky spent Saturday though Monday in Boston for a book signing there.

Over the weekend, Potoksky was alongside 400 runners visiting countless sporting booths at the Boston Convention Center. On the second floor, he bumped into Bill Rodgers, a former American record holder. He won three straight Boston Marathons from 1978 to 1980.

Potoksky wanted two people to endorse his book. One was Rodgers and the other was U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

On the day before the book was sent to the printer, Rodgers endorsed it.

“I hardly slept,” Potoksky said excitedly. “I left with the feeling that (the runners) are the most humble people I’ve ever met. All they have is sneakers, shorts, a shirt and a bib number. It’s what you got inside.”

Later, Potoksky headed to the Prudential Center, where 12 of his photos were on display. The photographer watched as people streamed into the building, observing the photographs.

“There were all these people looking at my work,” Potoksky said. “To be honored as an artist ... There were all these amazing things.”

Potoksky grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he moved to Boston, where he worked as a chef and played guitar. Potoksky began taking pictures at clubs and concerts. His work caught the attention of music magazines including Acoustic Guitar, Mojo, Elmore and Rolling Stone.

Potoksky began doing freelance photography as his main source of income after Sept. 11, 2001. “I had to go to New York to do something,” Potoksky said.

In New York, all the cooks and chefs had to be in the union. Instead, Potoksky started taking pictures of what he saw.

He later called the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., to see whether it would be interested in his work.

To his surprise, the director wanted all of his 28 photographs to be part of “September 11 Bearing Witness to History” collection at the museum.

The collection of 70 photographs documenting the outpouring of memorials and tributes in New York City is now captured in Potoksky’s first book: “American Heart, A Remembrance.”

“I’m just humbled,” Potoksky said. “I don’t have any schooling. I didn’t learn from a book. I photograph from my gut.”


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