Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wayne Miller Sept. 19, 1918 - May 22, 2013 Photographer of War and Peace Strove to 'Explain Man to Man'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wayne Miller Sept. 19, 1918 - May 22, 2013 Photographer of War and Peace Strove to 'Explain Man to Man'

Article excerpt

Wayne Miller, a photographer whose intimate images from the front lines of war, the streets of Chicago's South Side and his own family life captured a world in transition in the middle of the 20th century, died May 22 at his home in Orinda, Calif. He was 94.

Mr. Miller, the Chicago-born son of a doctor and a nurse, was given a camera as a high school graduation present and a few years later enrolled in art school. Quickly determining that it did not suit him, he joined the Navy, and that, perhaps surprisingly, was where he got his first real chance to do what he wanted to do: "to photograph mankind," he once put it, "and explain man to man."

Mr. Miller was one of a half-dozen photographers asked by the photographer and curator Edward Steichen to join a special Navy photography unit he had formed during World War II. Mr. Miller traveled the world in his new role, capturing U.S. soldiers in battle from the Philippines to the south of France, hopscotching his way through combat zones with rare freedom for a soldier.

He was among the first Americans to photograph Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. One of his best-known images is of a wounded airman being pulled from a damaged plane. Mr. Miller had been scheduled to be on that plane; a photographer who had asked to replace him was killed.

After the war, Mr. Miller returned to Chicago, where, living on grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, he spent three years photographing black life on the city's South Side in the wake of the Great Migration of blacks from the South. He photographed construction workers, families living in shanties, a little girl on crutches. He did not treat his subjects as art objects; he identified them, if not by name then by their job or task or where they lived. The project was formally titled "The Way of Life of the Northern Negro."

"His pictures have none of that title's polite anthropological squeamishness," the critic Margo Jefferson wrote in 2001 in The New York Times about "Chicago's South Side: 1946-1948," a book by Mr. …

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