The Woman in the Photograph

Written by Dana Gynther
Review by Audrey Braver

Lee Miller arrives in Paris in 1929 just in time to meet her idol, Man Ray. She asks him to take her on as his protégée; thus begins a famous partnership. Lee is Man’s model, student, and assistant; Man is her mentor and lover, conduit to the famous and most talented artists in Montmartre. Through Man’s guidance, Lee becomes a sought-after portrait photographer, as well as working for Paris Vogue as a photographer and a fashion model; she acts in movies and became friends with Charlie Chaplin. All these advantages provided to Lee by her friendship with Man Ray propel her to the top and drive a wedge between her and Man. With the exception of a particularly gruesome childhood misadventure that was to follow her into adulthood, Lee is a true golden girl. However, after an assignment in London, Lee finds it difficult to pick up the threads of her fraying relationship with Man. Incredibly, their romance, arguably, one of the most famous of the 20th century, had burned itself out in less than three years.

Dana Gynther uses known facts about Miller’s life as an outline and fills in the details in a way that brings the reader into the moment. Miller was an exceptionally beautiful model, talented photographer, and free-spirited bon vivant. The Woman in the Photograph is a fascinating account of Surrealist life in Paris of the ‘20s and ‘30s. During World War II, which is not covered in this biography, Lee Miller became a respected photojournalist.