Grand Haven Tribune: Beautiful imperfection
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Beautiful imperfection

Krystle Wagner • Jun 26, 2019 at 2:00 PM

A passion for photography and taking a chance on contests has led to a Grand Haven woman’s pictures being displayed internationally.

Pennie Spence’s picture of the St. Joe lighthouse covered in icicles, titled “Frozen,” was shown June 16-18 in Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi in Venice, Italy. Spence’s picture titled “Summer’s End” will be shown in the Beautiful Imperfections Exhibit, July 26-28, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Also next month, Spence’s photography will be part of an exhibit in Berlin, Germany.

Spence, who was born and raised in Sturgis, Michigan, said she’s taken pictures from the time she was strong enough to hold a camera. Growing up, her nickname was “Shutterbug” because she always had a camera in hand.

Spence started out taking pictures of her family, and that evolved into more artistic photos of things that interested her.

She says she looks for and is drawn to things that have more character, and she looks for things that aren’t perfect. Spence says her tagline is, “I find beauty in imperfection, and turn the ordinary into art.”

“I like pictures that evoke emotion,” she added.

Spence purchased her first camera at a garage sale in the 1990s. She taught herself how to use its manual settings.

Since she took the film to a store to get developed, she kept a notebook of the subjects and the settings, so she could determine what worked and what didn’t. She also checked out books about photography from the library.

Whether it is taking or editing pictures, Spence said she doesn’t like presets. She says she edits pictures until she thinks they look done and how she had envisioned them.

When Spence started getting paid to take pictures of musicians in 2007, she bought a Nikon DSLR camera. Those images led to her pictures being displayed in an exhibit in Ohio, where she was one of three regional artists in the show.

Spence joined an online community for artists, and she was encouraged to enter her photography into an exhibit. Although she initially felt it was out of her league, she took a chance and entered, and that resulted in her work being displayed in New York City and Miami, Florida.

Four years ago, Spence’s photography was shown internationally for the first time at The Louvre in Paris, France.

Spence, who currently uses a Nikon D810, has also received recognition for her work at local competitions. Her photography is currently displayed at Grand Haven Gallery & Photography Learning Center.

From 12-6 p.m. Saturday, June 29, Spence will host a meet-and-greet event at the Grand Haven Gallery, 14 S. Beechtree St.

Looking ahead, Spence says she is in transition between other jobs in addition to her photography. She would like to do photography full time and is looking for opportunities.

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