[Cover photo model: Laura New Myers]

“What I do is not for everybody,” says Herman Miller, a self-taught portrait photographer from Claiborne County, TN.  “Compared to what most photographers do today, my style is seen as outdated. I like a certain look. I’m influenced by the work of photographers from the 1920s through the 1940s. I love shadows and contrast. I’ve always been dramatic with that.”

Filmmaker and Knoxzine co-creator, Buck Kahler, MFA, is a fan of Miller’s retro style. Kahler says, “I love the film noir look. He makes great use of lighting and shadows, especially in the photo of Anthony and Kelly A. Smith [see photo essay]. The woman’s hard shadow against the man’s chest is amazing.” Kahler continues, “Miller’s work with model Laura New Myers is outstanding. Her photos look like movie posters.”

Miller has also made great use of constraints in his work. The majority of his indoor photo shoots take place in a small nondescript room with modest lighting options. He doesn’t use backdrops or screens. “Even though it’s always the same room, each model brings something different to it. One reason I shoot so close up is because of the room,” he says.

“Photography can be challenging. It’s either a hit or a miss, ” says Miller.  “I do this because I like it. I love doing it. I hope this comes across in my work.”

Herman Miller

Early influences:  Helmet Newton, Arthur Stieglitz, Edward Weston and  Andre Kertesz.

Gear: “My 3 digital cameras are all very old school. I use a Canon X 8.2 megapixel, a Canon 50 D 16 mega pixel, and a Nikon Cool Pics 16 mega pixel point and shoot. If I’m using film, I have a Canon Rebel 35mm and an old medium format camera. Regarding lens, I use mostly wide angle for body shot close ups. I also use a Nifty 50, which is great in low lighting settings.” 

EditingI use minimal Photoshop. Probably 99.9% of everything I do involves exposure and contrast. On average, I spend 2 to 5 minutes on editing a single photo.


All Photos were selected by Knoxzine staff.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Whitney Masters

Caitlin Clark

Laura New Myers

Anthony & Kelly A. Smith

LeAndre Flores

Amber Normandy

LaToya M. Johnson

Morgan Williams

Autumn & Jake Miller

Leslie Henry Fox

LeAndre Flores

Danica Thompkins

Amber Cannon


Danica Thompkins

Caitlin Clark


Rhonda Ramsey

Soo Mardis


To view more photos follow Herman Miller on Facebook.


If you enjoyed this photo essay, you might also like Fashion Struck by the Gods  and I Told You I Was Freaky.

Also see Knoxzine’s award winning journalistic photo essays,  Where We Live: John Messner’s Crime & Street Photography (Golden Press Club Winner for Best Online Photo “Distraught Woman on Cherry Street” & Best Online Photo Essay), and Pridefest Vignettes (Golden Press Club Winner for Best Online Photo “Rachel Flips a Bird,” and Best Photo Essay).


All images are copyright to Herman Miller and used with permission.

© Knoxzine, 2019 (text only).


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