My parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico, and their families decided to move to Philadelphia. When they met and fell in love with each other to marry, they wanted to have children. My brother was born Deaf, my sister was born hearing, and I was born hearing. When my mother shouted at me, she found my hearing had a loss at 2 years old; and she took me into audiology to get tested to evaluate my deafness.
During middle school in Philadelphia, a bold yellow poster caught my attention and I looked at the brochure. The brochure was talking about Mt. Everest, which is the biggest mountain in the world. When I was looking at the pictures, I was interested that many of villages were different shapes on the hills and the people were small, moving around the mountain. I read every page and was amazed to see the pictures. I was shocked with my mouth wide open when I saw those beautiful pictures. These pictures were taken from an airplane, describing many hill-lines; white frozen snow covered with wind-blown clouds. I became obsessed thinking about Mt. Everett.
I attended high school at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, which is part of Gallaudet University. When the teacher passed out a paper for us to write a goal for ten years in the future, for example, a career as specialized artist, photographer, and so on, it had me thinking about my future. I wanted to become an archaeologist and photojournalist, and wrote this on the goal paper.
At college, during my sophomore or junior year, I heard about 12 people killed by being frozen in snow on Mt. Everest, and it got me researching the many papers and the news about how the deaths were caused.
I also wanted to go to Italy, and Gallaudet University offered me a chance to go for a year to study in Italy after graduation. I joined this program and flew to Italy, and had a tour while having a thought about the mountains called the Alps; connecting Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany, and the Alps are across Europe. I travelled through them and was amazed with the views from the Alps. The Alps are a very hilly mountain range and has three small mountains surrounding them, and I was very inspired by the sights of the mountains. I flew back to the USA, still obsessed by them for five years but I was busy majoring in filming and did an internship in California and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
When I went back to Maryland for a little bit, I took out the old writing from my high school dairy about ten years future goals. I read my writing and it reminded me that I wanted to become a photographer. I was again impressed with my earlier goals and thought about them, but decided to move to Colorado.
I made a point of using a simple camera, an Olympus 800 which was the camera I used for my photography job. The weather, mountains, and lands taught me to improve my photographs by using visual skills and from the experience of filming in the world for Deaf Nation. Deaf Nation, Gallaudet University, and my personal film productions have taught me great skills in visualization and imagination inside myself. So, I decided to become a photographer, and went to New Mexico.
In New Mexico, I bought a new camera called a Rebel T3i by Canon, which was a moderate quality, but not professional camera. Three days later, I traveled to Cerro De Guadalupe near Albuquerque, New Mexico. While I was hiking on the mountain, I noticed something wildly moving in the sky. I took out my camera get a shot and instantly felt that one picture was a perfect shot of the beautiful sky with weirdly designed clouds. That picture was taken with my back to Taos where I lived at home.
Later I was walking around the town and noticed a newspaper was talking about a traveling photos experience, I thought to send my photos to the newspaper company hopefully for them to decide pictures to pick. In two weeks, I went to the gas station and bought the newspapers that I hadn’t read, planning to read later in the day. I put them in the living room and left home to do errands all day, came back and laid down to rest. I opened the newspaper, noticed that a picture that I took was published in the newspaper! The picture was a little big, not too small. I actually took this shot of the clouds and sky from New Mexico, and it was in the newspaper!
So excited and shocked to see this picture in the newspaper, I told everyone through Facebook. Everyone said “Congratulations” and “I can’t believe it.” I actually stayed up all night thinking about this picture. I definitely decided to become a professional photographer for a living.
I noticed that the Nepalese restaurant in Durango, Colorado, had many pictures of the beautiful Everest. On this visit to Colorado, a guy came while I was observing the pictures. His name was Karma Bothoya who had traveled to many different places, and shared a big smile of joy. He had guided clients through the world for 16 years. In a short while we became good friends, and provided each other hospitality to help each other.
One day, I went back to Maryland and then decided to go to Argentina for a second time. While in Argentina, I saw a posting about a foundation to support Nepalese Communities, and a limited selection of 12 people could join a trip to Chyamtang, Nepal. A very strong, pure culture is perfect for photography sessions to capture.
This culture was different from my previous experiences in photography, capturing many pictures of people, monkeys, green mountains, etc., and my friend Karma had accepted my volunteer service to join his trip to Nepal. In November 2014, I went on the trip to Nepal with the group, it was a wonderful experience. It was where the cultures offered many opportunities to photograph. See more of my travel and beauty images on my website, Jose-Saldana.com.