Waterbury photographer Peter Miller has had many well-deserved accolades in his long career. His latest is another honor that few artists can claim: Vermont's senior senator, Patrick Leahy — no slouch behind the lens himself — read a tribute to Miller on November 20 on the Senate floor.
Leahy's speech, printed here in full, says it all:
Mr. President, for generations, Vermonters have contributed to our national culture, through art, music, film and prose. Peter Miller is one such artist whose impressive work throughout his life as both a photographer and author has showcased Vermont and its residents and enriching us all.
As an amateur photographer, I have followed Peter's work for decades with admiration. From his early beginnings as a U.S. Army photographer to his travels across Europe with Yousuf Karsh, he has channeled his passion and energy into a remarkable art. Over the past 20 years, his unique ability to capture the Vermont spirit has been well documented and his consistent approach to producing authentic depictions of the Vermont way of life is unparalleled. He shuns the commercialization of art and instead creates his work solely to share and promote the values of our small and community-based State. This attitude was evident more than ever when, being honored as the Burlington Free Press' "Vermonter of the Year" in 2006 for his book "Vermont Gathering Places," he frankly said, "I don't shoot for galleries. I shoot for myself and the people I photograph."
His appreciation and respect for the traditional culture that defines Vermont is readily evident in his work. He has photographed farm-dotted landscapes, village communities, and generations of Vermont families. When writing the forward to his 2003 book "Vermont People," I noted that "the Vermont faces in this book speak worlds about living in the State that gave them character, wrinkles and wisdom ... through their faces, you can see Vermont." Peter's most recent work, "A Lifetime of Vermont People," is another testament to his tenacity and tact as a Vermonter. A product of over a year's worth of photography, fundraising, and self-publishing, this book is truly a labor of love. His addition of background stories helps provide greater insight and meaning to the photographs included and through his photography and the recent addition of writing to his repertoire, he gives a face, and a voice, to Vermonters.
Peter lives the lifestyle he captures in his photography. A Vermonter for over five decades, he has embraced the way of life that makes the State so special. Like his black and white photographs that draw focus squarely on the subject of the piece, rather than relying on flashy colors to convey a message, he is not interested in glitz and glam. His books have themes that exemplify Vermont: farm women, gathering places, small communities. He laments the waning of iconic farms, the erosion of small town values, and the fading of the once impermeable Vermont way of life. His resiliency is remarkable and his uncanny ability to display the beauty of Vermont in a way words cannot do justice serves as an inspiration for photographers everywhere.