Sal Patalano from the United States is retired from the corporate world in 2016 and he is passionate about photography especially he loves to capture portraits from Streets. In his words about street photography, “I love the immediacy of the moment. I love the connection with a stranger that I never knew before. I love the eye-to-eye contact. I love the challenge of walking up to a complete stranger and take their photograph.”
Thanks, Sal for accepting our invite. Please read on…
First, could you please introduce yourself?
Thank you for the opportunity. My name is Sal Patalano and I retired from the corporate world in 2016. I live in Nashua, NH, and Oldsmar, FL, USA. Since my retirement, I have been photographing folks that I meet on the street. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph people in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, North and South Carolina, and Florida.
Please share some of your childhood memories?
I was born in Gaeta, Italy and my family immigrated to the USA in 1958. My mother bought me my first camera at Grant’s department store in Somerville, MA. It cost $0.99…it was plastic, it was beige and it was a camera! My brother took it to boot camp and he would send black and white photos that he had taken with that camera. I still wonder what happened to it. I wish I still had it.
When did you start shooting and how did this love for photography happen?
I started shooting around 1981. Then I decided I wanted to shoot weddings. Well, not knowing anything about photography, I spent every minute I had in the local library. I must have read every book I could find on photography. Then, when I had enough confidence, I borrowed a wedding album from a recent bride, and I would market myself with her album and I lied saying I shot her wedding. In any case, it worked. I had booked 10 weddings and I had never shot a single one. That lasted for about 15 years when I gave it up due to a sick family member. About 25 years later, I bought my first DSLR. After a bit, I started shooting on the street. I fell in love with it.
What makes street photography so special for you?
I love the immediacy of the moment. I love the connection with a stranger that I never knew before. I love the eye-to-eye contact. I love the challenge of walking up to a complete stranger and take their photograph. The Canadien photojournalist, Ted Grant once said, “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their soul”. My goal is to capture people’s souls. That’s why I digitally convert my images to black and white.
What do you look for when deciding who to photograph?
When I walk the streets, I may see a thousand faces. But then, I see that ‘one’ face, I know I have to photograph it. I’ll do all that I can to approach that person with a smile. Try to start up a conversation to make that person comfortable enough to say yes to have me photograph them. I always ask, I always offer to send them a copy of their image and I always say thank you.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
Although we may all look different on the the outside, on the inside, we are all the same.
What was the proudest moment in your photography career so far?
In January of 2019, I was one of 27 artists chosen to display artwork at the Indoor Artwalk in Clearwater, FL. I was fortunate enough to have come in first place and as a result, I was extended the opportunity to exhibit my work at the Carnegie Gallery. Although this was quite a proud moment, the proudest was during my art display, an individual stood and stared at my images on display. He literally started to weep…..that,
was the proudest moment so far.
What is that you have adhered and learned through photography over the years?
Be yourself, be genuine, don’t be afraid to experiment. Look forward but remember the past.
What is a good photograph for you?
There is one thing a photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. – Robert Frank
Which photographers have inspired you?
Too many to name but a few come to mind like Ansel Adams, Minor White, Vivian Maier and Sebastiao Salgado….just to name a few but the list could fill pages.
What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
For the past four years I have been shooting with Fujifilm bodies and lenses. Before that, it was Nikon.
What does Sal do when not behind the lens?
I like to spend time with family and friends.
What is your favorite motto?
The greatest gift one can give is knowledge.
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
When I was a bit younger I had my own airplane (instrument rated pilot) but today, I occasionally ride my motorcycle.
Thanks again for providing 121 clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Enjoy your photography, learn from it and have fun.
You can find Sal Patalano on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Sal Patalano. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.