A Journey Through Chinatown


Shooting on the streets can be difficult sometimes. You usually don't encounter or expect to have any problems, but shit happens anyway. sometimes they are trivial, like people mugging for the camera trying to grab attention; othertimes it is major like people coming up suddenly and threatening you with bodily harm (I've had a couple such incidences the time I was shooting some assignments for nymetro.com) For nychinatown.org, i haven't encountered any major problems except for several incidences i have recorded below.

...and for all you business owners out there. if you are doing business out on the sidewalk, tough shit assholes, there are a millions of witnesses on the streets watching your every move... some info for you.

28 November 2009.

Frame 1: I walk by up the block and notice a canal street handbag tout on the right giving me ye olde stink eye. I make eye contact and give her the stink eye in return. I don't know what she is thinking, but my guess is, 'young asian male, expensive looking camera' must have sent them into alarm that I might be some kind of undercover investigator or something.

Been there, done that.... I point the camera at her hoping they will just scurry and hide, instead she yells, "No camera!"

Frame 2: say cheese bitch.

Frame 3: pass by another handbag tout/street lookout whom I point the camera at. I continue on my way to a flurry of chinese-style insults "fuck your family fuck your mother fuck you fuck you", and other expletives.

29 October 2009. For the past 3 years I have been taking photos almost everyday trying to get every storefront (and building) in chinatown, the lower east side, etc for the storefront section of that website... I try and do it without cars in the images.

Sometimes I get lucky and come across a street filled with traffic cones reserving parking for a future tv/movie set.

Usually the people who man those traffic cones are pretty nice, work hard, and sometimes I ask so they don't freak out if I wanted to move one of them for the 15-20 seconds it takes to take the photo before moving the cone back in place.

today... it was a different story. no future movie set, barricades with con edison on them, and a monitor employed to watch the traffic cones.

I didn't see the person monitoring the cones, so I figured, "ok, move it, take the photo, move it back." I moved it, took the photo, moved it back. the old fart comes up to me and ask what I was doing, so I explain. no dice. mr unfriendly didn't want to be bothered. I explain to him what I was doing, and how I usually move the cone, take the photo, move the cone back. He couldn't care less except how i was bothering him, and how the cone I put back was two inches off, yeah ok....

Well, I've been waiting two years for this particular street to be emptied of cars, and there were a couple of stores I needed to shoot here. One of them i had to move a barricade, so i ask; he told me to get the hell out of here how I was bothering him, wanted to know which one i wanted to move. I told him to sit down and relax, that he doesn't have to do anything. So ok, i move it, he watches me in derision. I take the pictures, move the barricade back EXACTLY, but he says, no it was 5 inches over there. fucking asshole....

13 September 2008. this chinese immigrant as 123 Mott St wanted to know why I was taking so many pictures of the store, and why did I pick her store when there are so many other stores to choose from, she told me I should go to canal st. when I tried to explain what I was doing, she didn't want to listen. she said she will call the police. my standard answer for that is to stand there and tell them to go ahead, I also give them a few minutes for them to make the call.

05 March 2008. mrs hand, the owner of the store at 145D Hester St must have forgotten the privilege of residing, and/or being a citizen of the United States. If she loves censorship, and harassment so much, maybe she should go back to China. Go ahead and call the police, the law is on my side.

28 April 2007. This shady Fujianese character threaten to break my camera because i was taking photos of several stores along Mott street. he specifically didn't want me to take pictures of this property behind him on across the street from Di Palo fine foods store on mott and grand st. other people came out to watch me as well.
25 May 2008.

to: communications@brooklyn.cuny.edu, pamela@brooklyn.cuny.edu cc: comerford@brooklyn.cuny.edu

To whom it may concern,

On Sunday May 25, 2008, 3.35pm, I was outside the gates of Brooklyn College on the sidewalk in an attempt to take a photo of your campus for personal use. I was on the city sidewalk, considered in the City of New York, PUBLIC PROPERTY.

As I was trying to take the photo, security approached and harassed me, and threatened me. I tried to warn him about my rights as a photographer www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/news/110107_moftb_issues_new.s...

This guard continued to approach and I felt physically threatened by him.

I have enclosed a photo of this encounter and demand from the proper authorities, an apology, and demand written clarification on rules on photography both inside, and outside your campus, i.e., ON THE SIDEWALK.

Thank You, RC
[september 13, 2008, I have not received a reply]

12 July 2005. As I was photographing a general street scene for a magazine, i was surprised, and jumped from behind by some crazed disheveled street vendor who thought my camera was pointed toward his broken-down van, and table. I never even pointed in his direction, and if I did i would have seen him coming toward me. most important lesson learned was to never leave your back unguarded.
  03 August 2005. on an assignment for a magazine photographing a street scene at the west 4th street courts in the village. A disheleved white guy comes walking across the frame, and just stands there pointing the finger at me. i tell him to fuck off.... whoops big mistake. that set him off. I run, and dial 911. he eventually saunters off across the street.

12 May 2002. These people don't like to be photographed, especially the guy in the white khakis in the foreground... he even tried threatening me, then exclaimed, "This is a private street!". It's with good reason why these people don't want to be on camera, this market has been cited numerous times for poor sanitation, and peddling without a license. The tenants of the Confucius Plaza apartment complex have voiced strong opposition to the presence of the vendors here.

New York Chinatown NYC NY Manhattan map visitor maps tourist info information 紐約 中華街, 唐人街 ニューヨーク, チャイナタウン photo images photography photos Flushing Brooklyn china town pictures manhatan

NYC Chinatown Index | Manhattan | Flushing | Brooklyn | Links & Resources | What's New
Storefront Photos | Historical Photos | Bookstore | Directory | Image Usage Policy | E·mail  

© Copyright 2002-2013 by RK Chin. All rights reserved.
visit : rkchin home : photography : nyc chinatown :