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Wayne Miller: He Took the Shots Seen Round the World

Posted By Patrick Kiger On May 23, 2013 @ 3:22 pm In Legacy | Comments Disabled

Wayne Miller, who died on May 22 at age 94 [1] in Orinda, Calif., captured iconic images of such a wide range of subjects that it’s almost hard to believe that a single person even saw all these moments, let alone photographed them.

PAR208914 [2]Just look at this 2009 retrospective [3], which includes just a small portion of the portfolio that he shot from the 1940s to the mid-1970s. There’s a dramatic photo of a wounded airman being lifted from a plane on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during World War II, and a heartbreaking image of a elderly Japanese couple who survived the A-bomb blast at Hiroshima. Other images show grief-stricken mourners at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s [4] funeral in 1945, and the serene, closed-eyes visage of singer Lena Horne. There’s a sinewy African-American laborer, clad in a T-shirt, dungarees, boots and a incongruously rakish fedora, dragging cables across a Chicago train yard – part of a landmark photojournalism project, “The Way of Life of the Northern Negro,” that Miller undertook in the late 1940s. There’s also a jazz club hipster lighting up a joint, a man being nuzzled by his Italian greyhound at a dog show, and a woman modeling a brassiere fashioned from potato chips, taken at a snack-food maker’s convention.

But Miller’s most famous and influential photograph – included in the 1955 “Family of Man” exhibition [5] at New York’s Museum of Modern Art – was the one that he took on Sept. 19, 1946, of his son David Baker Miller, a moment after Miller’s wife Joan gave birth to him. In the image, David Miller – eyes closed, grimacing, glistening with amniotic fluid and attached to his mother by the umbilical cord – is being lifted upside-down by a masked obstetrician. Perhaps more vividly than any other photograph ever taken, it depicts the startling, tumultuous beginning of a human life. The image was so resonant that a panel led by astronomer Carl Sagan chose it to be included in a collection of human artifacts to be carried outside the solar system [6] by the Voyager space probes [7], which were launched in 1977.

Oddly, the doctor delivering David Miller in the photo was his grandfather, Harold Wayne Miller, a prominent obstetrician at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago. “My father was proud of his work,” Wayne Miller recalled in a 2009 Smithsonian magazine interview. [8] “So he was happy to have me in there with my camera.”

 

Photo: Copyright Joan Miller (courtesy of Magnum Collection)

 

Also of Interest

 

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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/23/wayne-miller-dies-at-94-family-of-man-photos-famous-photographers/

URLs in this post:

[1] died on May 22 at age 94: http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_4&VBID=2K1HZOZPXWTZQ&IID=2K1HRGWT1VKS&PN=1

[2] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/PAR208914.jpg

[3] 2009 retrospective: http://www.stephendaitergallery.com/dynamic/artist.asp?ArtistID=49

[4] Franklin D. Roosevelt’s: http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-10-2010/roosevelts_depression_alphabet.html?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[5] 1955 “Family of Man” exhibition: http://www.moma.org/learn/resources/archives/archives_highlights_06_1955

[6] collection of human artifacts to be carried outside the solar system: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html

[7] Voyager space probes: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html

[8] 2009 Smithsonian magazine interview.: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Indelible-Images-Special-Delivery.html

[9] Ray Manzarek: 5 Facts About the Doors’ Keyboardist: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/21/ray-manzarek-dies-at-age-74-5-facts-about-the-doors-keyboardist/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[10] Miracle in Oklahoma: Elderly Woman Reunites with Her Dog on Live TV: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/21/oklahoma-city-tornado-survivor-barbara-garcia-reunites-with-dog/?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[11] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[12] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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