It is with some sadness that we learned that Wayne Miller passed away so recently. But the man lived such an extraordinary life that I think a celebration is more in order than a mourning party.
Ill leave it to other blogs to talk about his place in history, instead Ill share a story about my brief encounter with him.
While at graduate school at the Missouri School of Journalism, I had the pleasure of escorting him around town while he was there to receive the Missouri Honor Medal. The first night we had dinner and over a gin and tonic he regaled us with stories from the Magnum heydays. My favorite part of the night was a story about how they liked to refer to Cartier-Bresson in those days as Hank Carter. The following night we had dinner at the house of the Dean of the journalism school. I picked him up in my ratty old Honda Accord, littered with film canisters. He immediately noticed the film canisters and his eyes lit up with a smile. He approved of the mess. When we got to the Dean’s house we walked in and they offered us drinks. Wayne ordered a Wild Turkey and I followed suit. We ended the night having conversations about the future of photojournalism with other students and professors from school. Wayne didnt seem very optimistic. But I was new to the game and very enthusiastic. I should have heeded his wisdom.
All of this was happening at the same time that his book about the south side of Chicago had been published. I bought a copy and had him sign it. Wayne Miller was an extraordinary man. And his life, stretching from his days documenting the aftermath of Hiroshima to his work on the south side of Chicago should be celebrated and honored. Here’s to Wayne Miller! Im so glad I had the opportunity to meet him.
Do yourself a favor and take a look at his work here.