In 1980, Bud Glick moved from Milwaukee to New York City to be a documentary photographer for the New York Chinatown History Project, now the Museum of Chinese in America. The purpose of the project was to preserve and document the history of the United State's largest Chinese community. This was done through the gathering of oral histories, documents and objects, as well as, photographing a specific time and place in the early 1980s.
Glick worked on the project for a little more than three years, from 1981–84, focusing on all of Chinatown including the bachelor society, so called because of the disproportionate number of men living in the United States without their wives or children.
With little to no Chinese vocabulary in his arsenal, Glick approached community members and asked if he could take portraits of them. An outright ‘no’ was the most common answer.
“I don't speak Chinese,” Glick told Slate in an interview. “That was a barrier and there were also a lot of tourists, a lot of outsiders coming in asking to take pictures and a lot were obnoxious; even if they weren't, people don't often want a stranger sticking a camera in their face.”
After getting permission and taking the shot, Glick would return with a print of the portrait and ask the subject if he could also photograph them in their homes or where they worked. Surprisingly, the answer was often yes.
“I love photographing people and feel comfortable in any environment. I realized when I started doing photography it was what I was meant to do,” he said.
|Mr. Soo, East Broadway, 1982.|
|Rebecca with her children in their kitchen, 1982.|
|Division Street, 1982.|
|Columbus Park, 1983.|
|Garment factory, 1983.|
|Bachelor apartment, Bayard Street, 1982.|
|Bachelor apartment, Mr.Ng, Bayard Street,1982.|
(Photos courtesy of Bud Glick, via Slate)