Poetry Standing Still

A north county photographer whose work is on display nationally and available online will share his pictures with local visitors in the Prendergast Library Art Gallery Jan. 10 through Feb. 7 in a show called “A Portrait ~ More than just a Smile.”

Niles Dening will greet guests during an opening reception from 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, and make a presentation about his work at 7 p.m.

“I’m a photographer because taking pictures with my camera is how I capture and preserve the essence of a moment in a lifetime. I’m a photographer because sometimes words can’t express what eyes see and emotions feel. I’m a photographer so others may have a glimpse of something new, different, and engaging,” Dening said.

The artist recalls receiving a version of the Brownie Box Camera for Christmas when he was 12, and using his grandmother’s 35mm camera to take pictures for the high school yearbook.

After pursuing a career in music, he realized “the qualities I sought in my pictures were the same qualities I valued in music composition and performance. Most important, the best photos and the best music ‘speak’ to the recipient on a level that ignites a passion, stirs an emotion and if allowed, tells a story.”

He said not all of his pictures show a face or a person, but they all capture emotion and have a story that can speak to viewers and even let the picture become a partial portrait of them.

Dening taught music for 34 years. A classically trained musician who plays in several Western New York ensembles, he has performed on three continents and premiered several commissioned works.

He is now a freelance photographer and staff photographer for the McClurg Museum and the Chautauqua County Historical Society. He also provided photography and restored photos for the “Illustrated History of Chautauqua County” by Douglas Houck. He has shown his work at Anderson-Lee Library, Sinclairville Free Library, Patterson Library, McClurg Museum, and the Grape Discovery Center.

His works are on display at the Pentagon, the Smithsonian Institution, and the New York State Capitol Building. His photos have been published in the New York State School Music Association’s official magazine. He has received recognition from Life Touch National Studios and the Professional Photographers Society of New York State, including best of show awards and inclusion in its 9-11 Project.

One viewer called Dening “a poet with a lens.” According to another, his pictures are so vivid “you can hear them talking to one another.”

Hours to view “A Portrait ~ More than just a Smile” at Prendergast Library will be 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.

The library is located at 509 Cherry St., Jamestown. For information, call 484-7135.