Born and raised in Texas, Rotan got a job working for a New York museum photographing artworks.
His personal work emphasized the geometry, radical perspectives, and dramatic energy of the new New York. A 1932 essay on his work demonstrated American jingoism by praising Rotanâ€™s photographs
as "not the disordered jargon of photo-montage imported from decadent capitals abroad, but keen
and sane assemblages singing a fresher song."