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Stephen Spencer showing his true colors

“Moments in Color: Photographs by Stephen Spencer” will be exhibited April 4 through May 1 at the downtown Providence BankRI branch in the Turks Head building, One Turks Head Place.

Photographer Stephen Spencer always seems to be in motion. Spencer grew up in Warwick, went to high school in Smithfield and has lived in Lincoln, North Providence and North Scituate. He attended the University of Rhode Island and studied zoology but left after two years to study photography at the Rhode Island School of Photography.

After graduation, he worked as a public relations photographer, opened (and closed) his own commercial photography studio, enjoyed a job as the staff photographer for the Mystic Aquarium, managed a wedding and portrait photography business and worked as an architectural woodworker.

It’s safe to say Spencer has tried his hand at a great many things photographic, but it wasn’t until Spencer left the commercial photography business that he picked up a camera with a totally different idea in mind.

“I really didn’t go into the artistic side until I got out of the business,” he said.

Twelve years ago, Spencer took a job at the Johnson & Wales University Culinary Arts Museum as the manager of museum operations. Officially out of the photography business, Spencer picked up his camera to take pictures for himself.

“I like to shoot everyday stuff,” Spencer said. “I try to take the ordinary and make it look interesting.”

Spencer uses a digital camera and normally avoids using computer-generated tricks to enhance the images he takes, but he does use Photoshop.

“I love digital photography,” Spencer said. “And I am a firm believer that what you get in the camera is what you should show, but I also believe that Photoshop is today’s darkroom tool and it allows you to experiment with images. That’s what the photos in this show are about, experimenting with photography through the art of manipulation.”

The photographs are of a wide range of subjects, including inanimate objects such as chairs, and scenes of the lights in Las Vegas from the strip and the Neon Museum. Color is the unifying element. 

A good friend, graphic designer and painter Dorian Scotti, has encouraged Spencer to pursue his photography and to exhibit.

“I did a show at Johnson & Wales,” Spencer said, “and I was amazed at the response I got.”

Spencer sold quite a few of his photographs and gained the confidence to knock on a few doors to see where it might lead him. For now, he is taking seminars and looking at photographs to deepen his knowledge of photography, and of course, he is always out shooting.

“I like to look for the way light affects things. I like my images to convey things to people. I’m taking pictures for myself and I am happy with it.”

There will be a Gallery Night reception on April 18 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Exhibit hours are Monday through Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact www.bankri.

com or call 456-5015, ext 1330.


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