Due to the relaxed immigration laws of the early 1980s, New York City’s Chinatown underwent a rapid demographic shift.
Bud Glick was a photographer tasked by the the New York Chinatown History Project (now the Museum of Chinese in America) with documenting this transition from an older, primarily male community to one of young, newly immigrated families.
But looking at the photos now, 30 years later and newly digitized, it’s clear that he captured much more than just a demographic shift in a small period in time.
With his photo series, Glick captured a revolution.
The New York Chinatown History Project eventually came to be known as the Museum of Chinese in America. They currently have a number of Glick's photos in their archive.
Glick was tasked with revealing in his photos a changing Chinatown, one undergoing a rapid demographic shift.
In order to get the photos, Glick first had to get familiar with the community that was his subject.
He wasn't successful at first. But, eventually, Glick was allowed and often even invited in to take portraits of his subjects in their own homes.
Now over 30 years old, the work has been scanned and digitized. Glick is even creating large prints of his photo series.
Glick also said he has been using digital techniques that allow him to get additional detail out of the photos, and actually get closer to his original intention.
The new digital methods include scanning the negatives through a device that can extract way more information than a traditional darkroom.
Glick then runs them through Photoshop, but doesn't use any kind of photo manipulation. Instead, he uses the program to shift the shadows and lighting to what he originally saw.
According to Glick, these photos are much closer to what he had originally envisioned for the project.
Though it was always intended to document a historic change in the demographic shift, it now looks much more like a time capsule.
'What seemed current and normal to me at the time, now feels like a record of a different era,' Glick explained.
Indeed, Glick called this early 1980s NYC Chinatown a unique time in history, both for the neighbourhood as well as immigration.
'With the passage of time, I see how my documentation of Chinatown life can both communicate what it felt like to live in Chinatown at that time and inform our current societal discussion of immigration,' he said.
Through rediscovering the work and realising its new importance, Glick hopes his work takes on new life.
'I think that exposure to the reality of other peoples' lives always challenges our preconceived notions and can open our minds to seeing the world from someone else's point of view,' Glick told us.
You can see some of Glick's work for yourself in person, as select photos are permanently on display in the Museum as part of the historic exhibit.
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