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By Ea Nicole Madrigal
The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. Beacon Media News’ long time editor and photojournalist Terry Miller’s images are priceless. His work has showcased hundreds of moments that remind San Gabriel Valley residents of some of the most important or even tragic events of the past.
Thus, the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage is celebrating Miller’s photography over the next month and a half. The exhibit featuring famous faces and regions spanning from Santa Barbara to the San Gabriel Valley will last through March 14 (open during museum hours).
I sat down with Miller to chat about his background in photography and what brought him to the area that inspired much of his work.
Terry Miller’s father was a journalist for a British newspaper. In 1965, his father was transferred to the United States to work as a foreign correspondent. It was then that Miller came to America during one of the most exciting as well as tumultuous times in United States history. His father’s work, as Miller recollects, involved covering events such as Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassinations.
It was at this time that his father would bring home black and white prints that the newspaper did not use, and Miller remembers that he was utterly fascinated by the photographs. Around the tender age of 12, Miller’s interest in photography began. However, as Miller remembers, there was little he could do at that point with his intrigue in photography; so he spent some of his young life as a drummer in New York City.
Later on in life, he went back to England, but he eventually returned to the States in the late 1970s. He settled in Santa Barbara, and found a job at a newspaper in Goleta. Working as a journalist, he attempted to focus on his old passion — photography. He remembers that at one point he decided to “go play in the darkroom” and “experiment” with photography. After that moment Miller recalls, “I got really hooked!”
Following years of taking photographs in areas such as Goleta, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo, Miller moved to the San Gabriel Valley in 1998. Originally, he was an advertising representative, but, all the while, kept shooting photography. He eventually became best known in the Valley for his editorship and photography for our own, Beacon Media News. For the last 16 years, he has continued to capture the events and moments that characterize the San Gabriel region.
In his exhibit at the Gilb, you can explore fascinating images of well-known political personalities such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ted Kennedy, Jerry Brown, John Kerry, and others. Celebrities such as Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams have also been captured. In addition, the exhibit highlights how Miller has expertly portrayed some of the most traumatic events in recent memory such as the 2009 Griffith Park fire, the 2005 train tragedy, and the recent Colby fire. There are several other scenes that Miller’s camera shows his audience in a way only a seasoned professional can do.
When asked if the viewer interprets the story in his photos or if he creates a story with his photography, Miller states, “Every event is different. I just try to record what’s there. I don’t try to create the news. I just try to make a good image of what’s happening. To be accurate and honest, that’s most important, to be honest. Don’t make something appear to be something that it’s not.”
His ability to relay the news and relay the authentic stories of the Valley make his work and this exhibit invaluable.