Wayne F. Miller: Photographs 1942-1958 is the visual chronicle of the evolution of Wayne Forest Miller, a largely self-taught photographer who gladly left art school in 1942 to embrace the full spectrum of experience offered by the Second World War. Operating as a combat photographer under his own orders, and answerable only to Captain Edward Steichen, United States Navy, as to the results of his efforts, Lieutenant Miller photographed everything of interest that he encountered, from boredom to horror. Those images document an integral part of the American wartime experience and are secured in the National Archives in Washington D.C. What set Miller’s work apart from many other war photographers was in part a peculiar empathy, whether creating images of our own soldiers or Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb; in his work he strove to “climb inside those people, and look through their eyes.”
That ethos is present in all of Miller’s subsequent work, from his unique and comprehensive study (supported by the award of two Guggenheim grants) of the citizens of the Bronzeville neighborhood of postwar Chicago to his equally groundbreaking documentation a decade later of the daily life of an American family. This present volume offers some of Miller’s finest imagery from several classic areas of his oeuvre, as well as little-known and heretofore unpublished works. Throughout the book Miller’s own words illuminate the viewing experience with remarks that are by turns amusing, informative, and thought-provoking. Missives and quotations are reproduced from luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, W. Eugene Smith, and the fabled Edward Steichen.
Wayne F. Miller: Photographs 1942-1958 takes us to the midpoint of the career of one of the country’s most important visual artists and ends with his tremendously successful series that came to be published as The World is Young. This long overdue volume is an irreplaceable addition to American heritage.
Born in Chicago in 1918, Wayne F. Miller studied photography at the Art Center School of Los Angeles before joining the United States Navy in 1942, where he reached the rank of lieutenant. In the two decades following the war, Miller worked as a freelancer for Life, Fortune, Ladies’ Home Journal, Collier’s, and Ebony, received two Guggenheim fellowships, taught photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago, assisted Edward Steichen on the historic MoMA exhibit The Family of Man, and served as the president of Magnum Photos, among other achievements. He is the author of The World Is Young (Simon & Schuster, 1958) and Chicago’s South Side, 1946-1948 (University of California Press, 2000). He lives with his wife Joan in California.