Elizabeth "Lee" Miller was an American model-turned-photographer active throughout the early-mid 20th century. Born in 1907, her modelling career began at age 19 when she was stopped by Vogue publisher Condé Nast while out walking in Manhattan. Not long after their encounter, an illustration of Miller by French artist George Lepape was featured on the cover of the March 1927 issue of American Vogue, effectively catapulting her into the limelight. Unfortunately, this career was cut short in 1929 after a photo of her, taken by noted fashion photographer Edward Steichen, was used in an advertisement for Kotex menstrual pads, marring her image as a fashion model.
After the Kotex scandal, Miller packed her bags for Paris, where she decided to step behind the camera and establish a second career as a fashion and fine art photographer. She aspired to work as an apprentice to celebrated photographer Man Ray, and while he'd claimed not to mentor or take on apprentices, she quickly charmed her way into his life and became his model and co-collaborator, as well as his lover.
In 1932, Miller moved back to New York to work with her brother Erik, who served as her darkroom assistant. She continued her practice, and soon landed a show at a Modern European Photography exhibition, which fuelled her career. By 1934, she'd met and married Egyptian businessman Aziz Eloui Bey, with whom she eventually moved to Cairo. Although she stopped shooting professionally after relocating, she continued to experiment with photography, creating some of her most noted surrealist work.
Miller ultimately tired of her life in Egypt and left Bey for Paris and later London. World War II broke out while she was still living in Europe, and as such she became the official war photographer for Vogue. (Yes, I too was surprised that Vogue had a war correspondent.) She soon teamed up with fellow American photographer David Scherman, who was working for LIFE magazine at the time, and together they documented historic WWII events including the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.
Lee Miller's post-war life was marked by quiet intrigue. She had several more affairs before her death in 1977, but I'll use this as a stopping point today and let y'all do a little research of your own.