Remembered for her evocative photographs of the liberation of Paris and of the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau in 1945, Lee Miller was also widely known for her fashion photography.
Born in Poughkeepsie, New York State, she was taught the basics of photography by her father before travelling to Paris to study in 1925. She returned briefly to the United States (1927–29) to work at the Arts Students League in New York before going back to Paris as a student of the photographer and painter Man Ray. Miller remained in Paris until 1932, subsequently returning to New York to open her own photography studio, which she ran for a year.
In 1934 Miller married an Egyptian businessman, Aziz Eloui Bey, and lived in Egypt and Europe until she separated from him in 1939. She then moved to Britain with the painter Roland Penrose, whom she married in 1947, the year that their son Anthony was born.
In 1940 Miller became a photographer in London for Vogue magazine. She also took many photographs of wartime scenes; her book with E. Carter, Grim Glory: Pictures of Britain under Fire, appeared in 1941. From 1942 to 1945 she worked as the official war correspondent for the U.S. Forces and was assigned to cover the liberation of Paris and the terrible scenes created by German depravity at the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Dachau. After the war she returned to Vogue in London as a journalist and photographer, a position she held until 1954.
Retrospective exhibitions of Miller's work were held in New York (1985), London (1986), and San Francisco (1987). Her son's biography of her, The Lives of Lee Miller, appeared in 1985.