Milton Rogovin was just named the 2007 recipient of the ICP Cornell Capa Award. Nobody is more worthy of acknowledgement. Rogovin has dedicated his life to photographing ‘the forgotten ones.’ His portraits are consistently made out of affection and empathy.
One of Rogovin’s greatest achievements has been documenting the lives of his Buffalo neighbors. He often re-photographed the same subjects multiple times over the decades. In 2002, Sound Portraits producers Dave Isay and David Miller joined Rogovin to interview these subjects. The results were remarkable. Here is one example of Monica “Kiki” Cruz:
I was three in this first picture. I remember my mom was so excited–she felt like a movie star because Milton was coming over. She hurried to get me dressed, bathed–everything! She didn’t even have time to do her own hair, so she threw on that floppy old hat. Even after Milton left, she was happy that whole afternoon. And her being happy made me happy. Every time Milton came, my mother was happy, because she loved Anne and Milton. She’s not here no longer [crying]…but she was a wonderful lady and she is greatly missed. Me and my mom went through trials and tribulations, but she was my best friend.
That second picture was at my grandmother’s house. I wasn’t living at home at the time, and I just went over to visit. And my mother said, “You came in just in time, because Milton’s taking another picture of us!” And I said, “For real?” And when he took that picture I was sitting there thinking, “I don’t believe I’m doing this again!” Because that was the worst time in my life. My mother got with somebody that beat her, and I couldn’t take it. So I started sleeping in LaSalle Park, on the benches. Then when I was fifteen I went through the court system and became an emancipated minor, so I was able to live by myself as an adult. And at the time of the picture I was running with an older crowd–much older–and got addicted to drugs. I mean badly. Cocaine. Until one day I just woke up and said, “No. This isn’t me.” And I never touched it again.
In the third picture–I was happy there. I was working at my mom’s bar, the Golden Palm. Me and my mom had a real good relationship then. As a matter of fact we were living together, right across the street from there, and she was so happy that day. My mom used to live for the days that Milton and Anne would take her picture, but a little while after that, things got bad again. My mom actually drank herself to death. Because she felt alone [crying]. She felt like she didn’t have nobody, nobody loved her, nobody needed her. So she just gave up. And she died on July 10, 1998, from cirrhosis of the liver.