The Hippo


Sep 25, 2018








 “Street Faces” 

Where: Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua
When: On view during September, with an artist reception on Monday, Sept. 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

Face to face
Photographer takes portraits of people on the street


 By Angie Sykeny
Nashua photographer Sal Patalano had no idea that his photography would connect with so many people until he started uploading his photos onto the image hosting website Flickr, just to free up some space on his storage drive. After one year, he got about 1,000 followers and 3.4 million views. 
“I was very surprised at the tremendous response I got, and all the positive feedback,” he said. “That’s when I thought, maybe I should present my work somewhere in person so that other people can see it.” 
Patalano’s work is on display this month at the Nashua Public Library. His artist reception will be held on Monday, Sept. 24. The exhibition, titled “Street Faces,” features black and white portraits of people Patalano met in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and down south, where he spends half the year, in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. 
Patalano has been interested in photography since his mother got him his first 99-cent camera in fifth grade. He stopped taking photos for a while, then picked it back up a few years ago to give digital photography a try. 
“I fell in love with it all over again,” he said. “After a day of shooting, I can’t wait to go home and upload the images. It’s so immediate, unlike the old days where you had to bring your film to the lab and it’d be a week before you could see your images, if you were lucky.” 
When he retired two years ago from a career in finance, he had more time to invest in photography. That’s when he started going out to the streets and photographing people. How he chooses the people to photograph, he said, is “all very subjective.” 
“I’ll see 100 faces, but then, there’s that one unique face that stands out among the others, and I visualize how it would look [photographed],” Patalano said. “It could be an old face, young face, a man, a woman. There’s no real formula. It just has to capture my eyes.” 
When he sees people he wants to photograph, he simply approaches them and starts a conversation. As a self-proclaimed people person, Patalano said it comes naturally to him. 
“In 10 to 15 seconds, I can make them feel very comfortable and relax to the point where they can open up and let me take their photo,” he said. “Ninety-five out of 100 people say, ‘Yes, sure, go ahead.’” 
“Street Faces” consists of 35 photographs that Patalano chose out of his collection of more than 300. The photographs were taken in color, then converted to black and white and mildly enhanced in brightness and contrast. Most of them are 16x20 in size and are printed on aluminum panels through a process called dye sublimation, in which heat is used to transfer an image onto another material. 
“I like doing it that way, because it eliminates having to mount or frame the photos,” Patalano said. “I think, if the image is good enough, it speaks for itself, and it doesn’t need a frame. But that’s just my personal taste.” 
After his exhibit at the Nashua Public Library, Patalano has exhibits scheduled in Florida and Massachusetts. He said he has no intention of selling or making money from his photographs; he just wants more people to be able to view his work, and to inspire a greater appreciation for and awareness of “the common person.”
“To me, people are life. My photos are of ordinary people, sitting on a bench, smiling, going about their everyday way of life,” he said. “I hope people can see the truthfulness in that.” 

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