Photographer Jose Saldana: "I am very surprised because Vietnam can change like that after only 45 years"
by writer Ngoc Khoi
Pno- "To me, the strongest impression about this country is its cultural harmony, and the Vietnamese people know how to balance their lives"
The life of American photographer Jose Saldana has been an exciting journey. As a deaf child from the age of two, he has always cherished his dream of conquering the highest peaks, and becoming a professional photographer to capture impressive moments. Jose Saldana visited 23 countries since 2005 before visiting Vietnam in 2019 and took a set of Images of a dynamic Vietnam through my deaf eyes. Studying the daily life of the Vietnamese people, realizing that Vietnam is always changing, Jose Saldana said, it was "a feeling of amazement" to be able to capture the dramatic movements of people, landscapes and culture.
Reporter: Please tell us, what fate have brought you to Vietnam to do this photo shoot?
PHOTOGRAPHER JOSE SALDANA: "The first time I set foot in Vietnam was last May, during a country tour of Southeast Asia. Initially, I only planned to visit Vietnam for two weeks, but your country has kept me for longer than that, and inspired me to work on this set of photos."
A photographic artist often sees life with all his senses and then conveys it into photographs. But for him, that was not complete, how did he look and capture the "Vietnamese atmosphere?
During filming, I realized that I always wanted to discover new things in the world, and especially to learn more about the lives of deaf people in the places where I go. The image of a dynamic Vietnam through my deaf eyes is a name that I have cherished for a long time. Although deprived of the ability to listen, deaf people are bestowed with the acumen of their eyes, making them capable of "capturing" the most true emotions. I can capture the different aspects of your country's culture by stepping out of the property during these days here, to really see what's going on out there. From my own experience, I want everyone to feel what a deaf person like me can see about the colorful life in Vietnam.
Is there any highlight that you remember most?
The scenery and upland people of Sa Pa are the highlights that I like the most in this journey. Sa Pa reminds me of trekking in the Himalayas with my companions. I can affirm that the culture - people in Sa Pa is just as unique as in the Himalayas. From the clothes, way of life, lifestyle and openness of the Sa Pa people are very similar to those living in the Himalayas, and the way the people of this land are optimistic about life really makes me excited. The image of Sapa highland appeared a lot in my photo series, and I will definitely return here in the future to complete a set of photos of Sa Pa people. In addition, I was very impressed with the landscape of North Vietnam; If I have a chance, I hope to be able to stick with the land and people here for a long time. Your country is endowed with a beautiful beauty, it can be said that among the countries I have visited, few places leave such feelings in me. Each locality, each region I go through, has a different sound of customs, culture, voice and people.
Is the Vietnamese story you experienced any different from the Vietnamese story you have ever heard of?
From a young age, I only knew Vietnam through the story of the war, its devastation and the pain that the Vietnamese people suffered. When I arrived in Vietnam, I was surprised that life here could change so quickly after only 45 years. To me, the biggest impression of this country is its cultural harmony, and the Vietnamese people know how to balance their lives very well. Vietnamese character is always about generosity, morality, patience, as well as a caring attitude towards others. I know this well when I see that Vietnamese society pays great attention to the hearing impaired. It is this empathy that makes me admire you more people and your country.
do you feel about the deaf in Vietnam?
Like the US, people with hearing loss in Vietnam have to experience major obstacles in their life. In some of the more remote rural areas I've visited, many young people with hearing loss have a hard time completing high school, and fewer and fewer can go to college. What I want to convey in this set of photos is a different face of deaf people. Although they always struggle to make a living, their optimism in everyday life helps us to confidently look to the future. A set of photos of deaf people who transcend their fate and become successful individuals in society is also one of the topics that I am working on.
In Vietnam, the protection of cultural heritage is becoming an uphill battle. During the time living and taking pictures here, what are your thoughts on this?