Like the “small target of 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million)” of China’s super rich Wang Jianlin, 33-year-old Venezuelan Jesus Alberto Salazar Cabrera’s plan to celebrate his first anniversary in Shenzhen may not seem small to some of us. Seven months after he arrived in Shenzhen, Salazar is aiming to make an album collecting some of his most favorite photos of Shenzhen.
“Shenzhen is a fast-growing city, and the process deserves to be recorded. I’d like to be a recorder of the city,” he says.
Salazar’s long-term goal goes bigger than making a photographic record. The plan is to make such an album every year, and if possible, hold exhibitions to show the changes. Through the pictures, the geologist-turned-photographer wants to tell the stories of the people seen through his lens, and ultimately explain his understanding of this young metropolitan in an oriental country. “I want to show people my understanding of the Chinese society from the perspective of a Latin-American,” he says.
Salazar works for his brother at his trading company in Shenzhen, but taking photos remains an important part of his life. Besides his personal explorations, he also organizes photography groups that encourage both Chinese and expats to present their observations of the city. To him, photography goes far beyond expensive equipment and even skill. “You show how you communicate, and how you feel, for one thing, through the images,” he says.
One of Salazar’s favorite pictures shows a girl in a dress holding a pink umbrella, her back facing the camera, at the center of a roof-top corridor that leads to the Civic Center in Futian, with green trees on both sides shining in the sunlight and the giant yellow and orange pillars of the building standing far off and yet strikingly bright against the backdrop of the clear blue sky. “It was what I felt about the city at that moment: well balanced, optimistic and connecting people together,” Salazar says.
The girl in the picture, a stranger to Salazar at the time, approached Salazar to ask if he would do her the favor of taking a picture of her. “It was her idea to have the picture taken from the back, and I found it interesting. She inspired the composition, and I did little adjustments,” says Salazar. Though the two could barely communicate with words, they managed to collaborate on a good photo using gestures. “It is the kind of story about the interactions between people that I want to tell in my albums.”
“Many people tend to look at Shenzhen as a city to make fortune, but as I try to look deeper into it, I see the human warmth and the unique beauty in it.” This is the message he is trying to convey with his albums.