Keith McMillin, a 1953 journalism graduate of Texas Tech University, was chief photographer for the Tech yearbook his senior year, which, he says, changed his career direction to photojournalism. After college he was a reporter/photographer with the Big Spring (Texas) Daily Herald. His 11 years with the Herald was his training ground in all aspects of photojournalism since he was the only staff photographer with very little part-time help.
He was hired in 1964 by the Columbia Daily Tribune to lead its photo department, and his career with the Tribune stretched 19 years.
“The publisher and editors were very photo conscious and gave pictures great display on their pages. We hired young, talented photographers right out of college and some had been selected to National Geographic as interns before coming to the Tribune. We usually had three or four working with me over the years. I was able to keep a young outlook on photography, always pushed and challenged by my fellow photographers. As they came and went, my role was to keep stability in the department, but always I tried to learn from my younger peers.”
The Tribune won many photography awards from the Missouri Press Association, the Associated Press and the National Press Photographers Association. McMillin won the C.G. Wellington Memorial Award in 1971 from the Associated Press.
“Awards were not my goal, but to just do my everyday job of reporting the news in a truthful and honest manner,” McMillin said. In 1983 he moved to Abilene, Texas, to establish the first photojournalism sequence in the journalism department at Abilene Christian University. He enjoyed a fulfilling teaching career there for 13 years, retiring in 1996.