Lee Miller archives: http://tinyurl.com/mczacpb
At the age of 19, Lee Miller was prevented from being hit by a truck in NYC by Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue. Condé Nast thought she had the makings of a model, putting her on the cover of the magazine, which launched her modeling career. For a couple of years Miller was in high demand by photographers, until 1929 when a photograph of her taken by Edward Steichen was used to advertise Kotex pads, effectively ending her popularity as a model.
Miller then moved to Paris, with the intention of working with Man Ray. She became his model, muse, collaborator, and lover, thus beginning a new career on the other side of the camera as well as continuing as a model.
Lee Miller returned to New York in 1932, where she set up her own studio. She continued to pursue dual careers as model and photographer, however photography became her primary interest.
Miller was married in 1934 and moved to Cairo. The following years saw a succession of lovers and locations, eventually landing her in London where once again Vogue magazine had a major influence on her life, this time as a photographer: her work for them included being their war correspondent during WWII. She covered many major events including Normandy, the Liberation of Paris, and the death camps of Dachau and Buchenwald. There was a famous photo of her taking a bath in Hitler’s apartment in Munich taken as the war drew to its close.
Miller’s only child was born in 1947, fathered by her lover Sir Roland Penrose, whereupon she divorced her husband and married Penrose. They settled in a farm in England. Miller became a gourmet cook and a hostess for some of the most famous artists and photographers of the time, but her life became colored by her ongoing clinical depression and she started on what her son described as a “downward spiral”. She died of lung cancer in 1977. After her death, 60,000 of her photographic negatives were found in a stash of cardboard boxes.
Lee Miller has such an amazing biography that I haven’t even attempted to cover it all. I recommend using Google to learn more about her life, or following some of the links I’ve posted here:
Victoria and Albert Museum~ http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/l/lee-miller/
Much More Than A Muse: Lee Miller And Man Ray~ http://www.npr.org/2011/08/20/139766533/much-more-than-a-muse-lee-miller-and-man-ray
Lee Miller’s Photographs of the Second World War~
The Roving Eye~ http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/01/21/the-roving-eye