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Remembering Wayne Miller Tweet This   Forward This

23 May 2013

Photographer Wayne Miller passed away yesterday at his home in Orinda, Calif. He was 94. His advice for photographers was simple. "Just go out and do it," he said.

He knew nothing about photography, he said, when Edward Steichen picked him to join his World War II U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit. Steichen told him the war would be won by the little guy, so focus on that.

Miller's Navy Combat Photos. In this shot, crewmen lift Kenneth Bratton out of the turret of a TBF on the USS Saratoga after raid on Rabaul in November 1943. From the National Archives.

He did, seeing the war at sea from young sailors' eyes. But he also shot some of the first images of the destruction of Hiroshima after it was struck by the atomic bomb.

The Japanese didn't know us and we didn't know them, Miller observed, so when he returned home to Chicago he made it his business to introduce us to ourselves. With two Guggenheim fellowships, he spent two years photographing "The Way of the Northern Negro." The series of black and white images documented the ordinary aspirations of blacks who had migrated to Chicago after the war as well as a few celebrities like Lena Horne and Paul Robeson.

In the early 1950s Miller helped Steichen put together "The Family of Man" exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art. It included an image of his son being born from a series of his own family life that led ultimately to the publication in 1958 of The World Is Young.

He was a contract photographer for Life, president of Magnum Photos (1962-1966), a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers and its chairman in 1954. He joined the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as executive director of the Public Broadcasting Environmental Center in 1970. He retired from photography in 1975, becoming involved with the protection of California's redwood forests, which then became his main photographic subject.

Stills from his work can be seen at Higher Pictures. And Time Magazine's Lightbox has published Theo Riby's 8:27 minute video The World is Young along with Vaughn Wallace's profile.

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