About this artwork

In the 1850s, Babbitt had been granted a monopoly to photograph on the American side of the Niagara Falls. Competition amongst photographers could be ruthless. When a Scotsman, William Thompson, tried to photograph the falls from Prospect Point, it was noted that: 'Mr Babbitt would not have it.... Every time Mr Thompson made an attempt to take the cap off the camera for an exposure, Mr Babbitt and his forces would stand between the camera and the falls swinging large-sized umbrellas to and fro...'

Platt Babbitt

Platt Babbitt

From the 1850s, tourism and photography became close associates, offering enormous financial rewards to photographers. By 1853, Platt D. Babbitt had set up his camera on the American side of the Niagara Falls, keeping it permanently pointed towards Horseshoe Falls. He photographed any tourists who came within sight, later offering them the image for sale. Babbitt was granted a monopoly by the manager of the American side which he guarded jealously, producing thousands of photographs during a period of over twenty years.