Renowned surf cinematographer Sonny Miller died of a heart attack on Tuesday. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Miller was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla but was unable to be resuscitated.
Miller was largely considered to be one of the great filmmakers and photographers in the history of surfing. Born on July 18, 1960, he grew up riding waves along the beaches of San Diego County. His career began when he started submitting photos to Surfer magazine in the mid-1980s, but he quickly moved from still to motion photography. Resisting the temptation to shoot video, he became an artist with 16 mm film.
In the mid-1990s Miller produced a series of influential surf films for Rip Curl, including "The Search," "Tripping the Planet" and most famously, "Searching for Tom Curren," which was named Video of the Year by Surfer magazine in 1997.
In the early 2000s he transitioned into Hollywood productions, bringing his action-sports cinematography skills to the movies, "In God's Hands," "Riding Giants," "Lords of Dogtown," "Blue Crush" and the James Bond film, "Die Another Day."
Beyond Miller's impressive professional resume, he was nicknamed "Cap'n Fun" by those who spent time traveling and working with him.
"We did a mission to Tonga in '92 together and I realized then that no matter how far from home or how bad the surf, Sonny was always happy and positive and truly epitomized the meaning of being stoked," wrote Kelly Slater on Instagram. "Surfers will be eternally grateful to Sonny for filming Tom Curren in the legendary surf movie, 'Searching For Tom Curren' in the early '90s at #JeffreysBay and beyond. Maybe it's somehow fitting that Tom is currently at Jeffrey's Bay on this sad and fateful day and will surely be surfing in his honor this week."
"Sonny was one of those great photographers who was also a great person, loved by all," remembered fellow photographer and ESPN contributor Tom Servais. "His infectious smile and personality will not be forgotten anytime soon."