Richard Crump Miller was born on Aug 6, 1912 in Hanford, CA, to Ray Oakley Miller and Laura Belle Crump Miller. As a child, Miller’s interest in photography grew from toying with his father’s 3¼x4¼ folding roll-film camera. In 1929 Miller was introduced to Leica and Graflex cameras and began to study cinematography while attending, successively, Stanford University and Pomona College. Miller ended up graduating from USC where he met his wife, Margaret.
In 1935 Miller pursued acting at a community theater where he also shot photographs of fellow players with a borrowed Leica before upgrading to an acquired Zeiss Contax I 35mm camera. When Miller traveled to New York looking for work as an actor he showed his photographs to Edward Steichen who praised and encouraged him to stay in New York and work in photography. However, in 1937, Miller stopped temporarily in order to return to Los Angeles and marry Margaret.
In 1939 Miller officially left acting for a career as a photographer. He learned the tri-color carbro printing process out of a book and purchased a one-shot color camera that enabled him to capture live subjects. He then converted a bathroom in his parent’s home into a makeshift darkroom to process advertising and commercial photography—which made him the only one in his field both working in carbro and processing his own prints.
1939 was also the year that Miller’s first daughter, Linda, was born and became his main subject. Miller sent the best of Linda’s prints to the Saturday Evening Post and in 1941 her photo made the cover-- one of only two photographic Post covers that year and the first that Miller had ever sold. This accomplishment got the attention of numerous agents and enabled Miller to sign up with the Freelance Photographer's Guild—which soon lead to many more covers.
When WWII heated up in 1941 Miller got a job at North American, which provided him with a steady income photographing airplanes for service manuals. During this time Miller continued to pursue his passions on the side while supporting his growing family—which now included daughters Peg and Jan. In 1945 the war ended in Europe, allowing Miller quit his job and take a position as a printer where he was able to test materials and develop his own prints in Kodachrome.
From 1946-5 Miller went to work as an assistant to photographers Valentino Sarra, Ruzzie Green, and John Engstead on commercial jobs. These assistant positions allowed him to shoot celebrities for Family Circle, Parents, American Weekly, Colliers, Life and Time. In March and April 1946, Miller photographed a popular model named Norma Jeane Dougherty and sold a cover of her to “True Romance”. Miller met her again when he was the still photographer on the set of “Some Like it Hot” and she had changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.
Miller sought a regular paycheck from 1952-55 so he became the television lighting director at KLAC. After this stint he returned to freelance until 1962 while on retainer at Globe Photos where he covered the entertainment industry and became friends with celebrities such as James Dean.
In 1979 Miller met photographer Reece Vogel, who was interested in making carbros. In 1984, they rescued materials and equipment from McGraw Colorgraph when its defunct plant was being shut down. Vogel eventually printed black and white silver prints from Miller’s portfolio.
Miller passed away on October 15, 2010 in New York's Hudson Valley.