Life in focus
In the 1950s, while stationed in Turkey and serving the United States Air Force, the artist inside Larry Miller woke.
The otherworldly countryside, snaking mountain roads, sprawling vineyards and renaissance architecture captivated the young American. He needed to remember it forever, somehow.
“I figured out that I could never create a scene with a pencil or brush,” says the Lake Highlands resident, so he purchased a 35-millimeter camera through the military’s post exchange.
That’s how it started, says Miller, now in his 80s, sitting in his favorite chair in his Presbyterian Village North apartment, against the backdrop of “his pride and joy”— a collection of colorful, old-world Tuscan front-door photographs, arranged in neat rows and columns, within a lofty, natty-chic frame. Other pieces — Tuscan terrain and wildlife close-ups and family portraits — gild the inviting, aesthetic abode, a recent downsizing. Larry’s photography passion never wavered during his successful sales career, but when he retired, he “began taking it seriously.” He lined-up fundamentals courses and founded the photography club of Fredericksburg, Texas, almost 100 members strong today and so popular that well-known shutterbugs and photojournalists accept, without hesitation, invitations to lecture.
Only love of travel matched Miller’s photography obsession. After a period of widowhood, Miller boarded an Alaskan cruise, solo but for his camera — a far more advanced version than the old 35. He took it everywhere, he says, not merely to immortalize scenery and memories, but also because the device emboldened him.
“I went places I wasn’t really supposed to be, but because of the professional camera, people never stopped me. They figure I belong there and I could get up close, in the action of what was going on around me,” he says.
On that cruise he met Nancy, also widowed, a fellow world voyager, similarly intent on capturing earth’s beauty and idiosyncrasies. A kindred spirit. For years Nancy made a living of travel writing and photography. Their paths crossed and, in a flash, they fell for one another, married and they continue their passages together. While at home in Lake Highlands, Larry and Nancy shoot and write, respectively, for the PVN Bugle, their community newsletter. Through his magnificent images marked by light and color, detail and whimsy — a pair of muddy gardening boots amid brilliant dandelions, for example; or an iron chair, showered in sunlight, possibly beaming upward to serve as furniture for a heavenly patio — Miller has made a reputation for himself and received offers aplenty from collectors eager to purchase his prints. He will take the money, but he never keeps it.
“I have enough,” he says, “so I just give the money to a charity I like.”
Larry’s tip: Whenever you’re ready to photograph, whatever you are focused on, stop. Turn around. What do you see now? It might be the magic shot. That is how that heavenly chair image came to exist.