Photo exhibit focuses on dry Niagara Falls on anniversary of de-watering

At the time, Richard Price thought it would be an exciting opportunity to snap some unique photographs of Niagara Falls.

The year was 1969 and a 30-year-old Price used his Yashica camera to capture images of what the falls looked like when a bi-national commission diverted the water along the upper Niagara River to dry it up as part of a five-month study of its geological composition.

Today, Price describes the scene as a real “spectacle.”

“It was something you don’t get to see,” he recalled. “This was something you never got to see, ever, certainly not in my lifetime.”

Fifty-five years later, the Tonawanda native who has devoted much of his private life to his personal “art form,” photography, is giving the public a chance to take a closer look at some of the images he captured while looking out at the rock formations beneath dried-out Niagara Falls.

“I had been to the falls before,” Price said. “I knew what the falls looked like. I was interested to see that with no water going over the falls. There’s always a lot of people that go up there, but they were up there looking at no water.”

On the 55th anniversary of the last Niagara Falls de-watering event, Price decided to take another look inside a box of transparencies he labeled “Niagara Falls, 1969.” With help from Buffalo Big Print, a fine art print shop in Allentown, he turned what he considered to be the best of the bunch into a group of framed 20-by-20-inch prints. Those prints will be on display through the end of the month at Delaware Camera, 2635 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

“They just sat around until I realized that this was going to be the year to do this kind of thing,” Price said.

Price started taking pictures at age 13 when he took his family’s camera with him on a Boy Scout summer camping trip. He documented what he experienced that summer, and at the end of that year he received a gift that would ensure he’d still be taking photographs decades later.

“That year, I got a developing outfit for Christmas and I was hooked,” he said.

Price, now 84 and residing in Buffalo, retired about a decade ago from a career as a medical laboratory technologist with Children’s Hospital and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Throughout the years, his love of photography never waned.

As an adult, Price vacationed at least twice a year in the southwest, capturing images from Bryce Canyon National Park and other national parks along the way. He later visited destinations outside the United States, taking photographs of historic and natural sites in Greece, Ireland, Germany and Egypt.

For years, he was a regular attendee at the Corn Hill Arts Festival in Rochester, the Allentown Art Festival and festivals in Cincinnati, Richmond, Washington, D.C. and other locales outside the region.

Price’s photos are featured in a book titled “Radical Faerie Portraits,” which documents the lives of dozens of members of a loosely affiliated worldwide network of artists, activists, drag queens, witches and others who view people of gay, queer and trans identities as a distinct people with a different culture.

“I liked making images,” Price said. “I try to consider my images as being documentary. There’s nothing there but what I saw and I tried to make it the best image that I can make of what I saw in terms of composition and so forth.”

Price’s current display of prints, titled “The Dewatered American Falls — 1969,” is open to the public and runs through June 30. An opening reception, which is also open to the public, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Delaware Camera.

For more information about Price and his work, follow him on Facebook or email him at rwprice13@msn.com.