Robert Glick , better known as Bud, believes, “When we do documentary photography, we establish a permanent bond with those we photograph and the community in which we work.” In the early 1980s, Glick was working as a photographer for the New York Chinatown History Project, which is now the Museum of Chinese in America. The goal of his work was to document the community as it transformed from an primarily older, male population to a generation of young families due to rapidly expanding immigration. Laws that had stifled the influx of Chinese families, starting as early as 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act, had been lessened but did not allow large-scale immigration until 1965.
Glick has recently been resurfacing his photographs in hopes of reconnecting with the people he met during that time. Glick notes a specific portrait. “Among others, I also connected with Vincent Lee, a 35-year-old man whom I photographed sleeping in his grandfather’s lap in 1983. I’d been wondering if/when I would be contacted by the boy in his grandfather’s lap (Vincent). He saw the photo online and contacted me in February 2016.” Vincent took Glick back to the scene of the photo, his childhood home at 9 Eldridge Street.
He met with another man, Freeman Wong, who also saw Glick’s photos online and was delighted to recognize family and friends. Glick said, “Freeman’s response deepened and indeed changed my understanding of the work. When we do documentary photography we often see the photographs that we give back as simply a means to an end. However those giveback photos become part of a family’s personal history. Years later they will remember their loved ones (and even themselves at a younger age) through the photos that we give back. Freeman showed me his iPhone. The wallpaper is the photo that I took 36 years ago.”
Robert Glick is working with Jack Tchen, co-founder of NYCHP and MOCA, to combine his photographs with personal histories to further the understanding of the history of New York Chinatown.
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