Milton Rogovin was born and raised in New York City, but he moved to Buffalo to open an optometry practice in 1938. He bought a camera in 1942 and became increasingly involved in Leftist causes, agitating on behalf of those he called “the forgotten ones,” the poorest citizens of Buffalo. In the 1950s, his optometry business was essentially destroyed after he was publicly labeled a Communist, and he turned increasingly to photography as the years passed, documenting the life of the working class in Buffalo. His sensitive portrayals are considered a form of social documentary photography; Rogovin gave a human face to the labors and struggles of workers. This image is one of several Rogovin took at Shenango Ingot Molds. He also photographed at Bethlehem Steel, the Amherst Foundry, and Hanna Furnace, among other Buffalo workplaces. “All my life I’ve focused on the poor,” Rogovin said in 2003. “The rich ones have their own photographers.” His first major exhibition was held at the Albright-Knox in 1985.
Label from Overtime: The Art of Work, March 8–May 17, 2015