Portfolio: Milton Rogovin

From the Projct "Family of Miners" - Photo by Milton Rogovin

From the Project "Family of Miners" - Photo by Milton Rogovin

 Winner Of W. Eugene Smith Award 1983

Family of Miners

This series portrays miners in ten nations. In 1962, Milton and Anne Rogovin traveled to Appalachia for the first of nine visits. Photographs were taken of mountains devastated by mining operations as well as of miners at their work places and in the neighborhoods where they worked. Milton captured the effects of Black Lung disease and unemployment. In the Family of Miners series, workers were photographed with hard hats and lanterns and coal blackened faces, at rest, in below-ground changing rooms, or on elevators descending into the mines. When not at work, they were photographed at festivals, at local pubs, or at home with their families or with their pets.

At that time, only women in the US were allowed to work below ground. Milton made a special effort to photograph these women. Miners in this series are African, African-American, Hispanic, Asian and white.

After Milton received the W. Eugene Smith Award for Documentary Photography (1983) from the International Center of Photography, he was able to expand his Family of Miners series to include ten nations. Mines were photographed in Zimbabwe (1989), Mexico (1988), Cuba (1984-89), Appalachia (1962-87), Czechoslovakia (1990), Germany (1984), France (1981), Spain (1983), Scotland (1982), and China (1986).

Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin was born in 1909. He was schooled as an optometrist and photographed poor and working people for fifty years. His series ranged from storefront churches, miners, steel workers, Chile, the Yemeni and Native American communities and a three-decade documentation of a community in Buffalo, N.Y. He photographed the people he considered “the forgotten ones.”

His award from the W. Eugene Smith Fund allowed him to complete his expansive Family of Miners series. Rogovin’s initial work took him to Appalachia, where he photographed the devastated landscape, mine communities and women miners at work and at home. With his wife and collaborator, Anne Rogovin, they photographed in ten nations including China, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Cuba and France.

Rogovin’s correspondence, negatives and contact sheets are at the Library of Congress and the master collection of photographs resides at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson.

His latest and most comprehensive book is Milton Rogovin: the Making of a Social Documentary Photographer. The J. Paul Getty Museum published the book, Milton Rogovin: the Mining Photographs. In 2007 he was awarded the Cornell Capa Award from the International Center of Photography.

Milton Rogovin passed away on January 18th of 2011 at age 101.

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