DALLAS, TX - J. Howard Miller, a lifetime professional photographer and a charter member of the National Press Photographers Association from 1946, died November 10 in Dallas at the age of 86. Jay Miller of Dallas, his son who is also a photographer, said that NPPA founder Joe Costa signed his father’s original NPPA membership card. The Miller family represents three generations of photography, covering 104 years of making pictures.
Miller was born at Wellington, KS, in 1918 and grew up in Clovis, NM. Miller says that his father began his photography career in high school and that while in college he operated a small photofinishing shop and portrait studio. He also worked newspaper assignments for the Clovis News Journal. He graduated from Clovis High School in 1936 and attended the University of Southern California, Los Angeles City College, and Eastern New Mexico State College. While at USC, Miller says, he played baritone in the band and marched in the annual Rose Bowl Parade.
After working a KAVE radio in Carlsbad, NM, and working as a commercial photographer in Amarillo, TX, he began his newspaper career at the Amarillo Globe-News and Times. On December 8, 1941, he volunteered for the Army Air Force and was selected for photo training. He served the war years as a photographer and was honorably discharged in 1945. He returned to Amarillo as a staff photographer for the Amarillo Globe.
Miller, along with the late Woodfin Camp, operated as a legendary two-man photography team at the Amarillo Daily News and Globe-Times until 1953, when Miller left the paper to open his own commercial studio. In 1972, Miller and his late wife (Mary) moved to Houston where he became supervisor of still photography at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. He retired in 1982, bringing to an end nearly 45 years as a working professional photographer and manager, and moved to Dallas in 1997 to be near his son and family.
His son Jay Miller, a third generation professional photographer who now runs Trinity Graphics Systems in Dallas, says that his father carefully maintained his original 4x5 Speed Graphic camera until the day he died, and that his father never lost his passion for photography. “When we fully converted to digital in 2003 we bought a Canon EOS-1DS system and paid $7,000 for it, and he nearly had a heart attack,” Miller told News Photographer magazine. “After he saw the results and learned what we could do, he said it was the only way to go and that he wished he’d had this technology in his day. But I still wound up buying flash bulbs for him on eBay!”
J. Howard Miller was preceded in death by his wife in 1977. He’s survived by his son along with a daughter-in-law, Laynie Miller, and two granddaughters, Mary Kristin Miller and Lara Caitlin Miller, both of Austin, TX. He was buried with military honors at Woodlawn Cemetery in Houston. The family requests that memorials to be made to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch or to a favorite charity.