Elizabeth “Lee” Miller was an American photographer from New York.  She began her career as a successful fashion model in the 1920’s, but then moved to Paris and behind the camera.  She became a well-established fashion and fine art photographer.  During World War II she became a war photographer and covered events like  the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. [Photos of and by Miller]

Miller’s move to paris was to study under surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray.  Ray insisted he did not take on students, but after persistence, Miller became his model and collaborator and muse.  She rediscovered the photographic technique of solarisation and worked extensively in the surrealist movement.  She worked often with Pablo Picasso, Paul Éluard, and Jean Cocteau.

 I would rather take a photograph than be one.  — Lee Miller

After studying with Man Ray, she returned to New York city in 1932 and established a portrait and commercial photography studio. A move to Egypt came in 1934 with a short marriage to an Egyptian businessman.  By 1937 she moved back to Paris. Through this whole time she continued to create surrealist photos.

At the start of World War II, she began her career as a photojournalist. She was accredited into the U.S. Army as a war correspondent for Condé Nast Publications (a publication she previously served as a model for). She teamed with American photographer David E. Scherman from LIFE magazine on many assignments. She made many iconic photos of the war including  the liberation of Paris, the battle for Alsace, and the  Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

After the war, Miller suffered from severe episodes of clinical depression (what  became known as post-traumatic stress syndrome). Her career continued to evolve into gourmet cook and portrait photographer, as well as the role of mother.  Her life had many twists, turns, and prolific relationships… so much that  several biographies and even a musical, Six Pictures Of Lee Miller, have been created.

Here’s a biography on her life posted by Netropolitan Artsconversations.

Learn more about Miller here and here.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


A Photographer You Should Know, Inspiration, Opinion, Photography