An Open Lens to Discovery, Inspiration and Creativity

Being an artist doesn’t come with a list of guidelines. There is no definition or method to grand success; the product of creation has no origin there. For photographer Pamela Dunn-Parish, it’s all about three words: discover, inspire and create.

Pamela spent most of her childhood in the frame of her mother’s camera, being photographed through the magical and mundane: eating breakfast, sitting in the car, in the living room, walking to and fro, room to room. She smiles, remembering a shot of herself in curlers, seemingly another lifetime ago.

What began as an everyday nuisance transformed into gratitude for the way her mother documented her life.

“I began to appreciate the fact that I have a lot of memories preserved,” says Pamela, “so I began doing the same.”

Class after class, she is now getting her professional certification and is preparing for two month-long shows in November, one of which will be at Frame of Mind on Brooks Street.

“I want to show hope,” she says. “By November we’ve lost all of our leaves, we’ve lost all of our flowers, we’ve lost all of that.”

Her theme radiates from a collection of images that serve as memories for Pamela, each one a different person or experience.

“To really capture images well you need to know the why, who, what, where. I just need to know all of those things so when I go to photograph someone I know what the reason is I’m there for,” she says.

She’s photographed weddings and memorial services, capturing the once-in-a-lifetime happiness of a moment as well as the humbling emotion of celebrating a life. For Pamela, her clients are her invitations to their lives, if only for an hour or two: “Really getting to meet interesting, different people and [learn about] their hobbies and interests. That is my motivator.”

It’s the particulars of her subjects that intrigue Pamela the most.

“I’m a detail-oriented photographer,” says Pamela.

Most of her work consists of portrait, macro and commercial photography. Her love of cars made her an expert in portraits, capturing the artwork of restored cars and the dedication of the people who own them.

“One of my most amazing shoots was doing a 1936 Plymouth Coupe. There are only two in the world,” she says.

Pamela was also able to experience the power of a turbo helicopter and turbo Camaro as she photographed them racing on the tarmac, dust billowing up in a hot haze: “I love the sound of really hot engines. It gets my heart really racing.”

It doesn’t always need to roar or purr for Pamela. She’s quite the artist when it comes to her macro work as well. Each photograph is like a window into another, lesser-known world. The unknown details of a flower or face are made striking by her ability to focus in on what sets them apart. Her commercial experience has allowed her to photograph rare and beautiful jewelry for Sage Accessories as well as many other local companies.

“Every photo shoot—I don’t care how much training I have, which I train all the time—I’m always learning,” she says. “Every time I go to a shoot it’s different.”

Perhaps what’s most charming about Pamela is her enthusiasm toward volunteer projects. She will be joining in on the Help Portrait Missoula event at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in December. It’s where photographers, hair stylists and makeup artists volunteer their time to those unable to afford a family portrait for the holidays. Similarly, she’s also involved with Camp Mak-A Dream, where she teaches children how to pair a photograph with a poem they’ve written.

In addition to her gallery pieces at Frame of Mind, Pamela’s work will also be present for a second month-long show in November at Radius on East Main Street. The photographs of several artists will fit under the canopy of a chosen theme, as well as priced below a given figure, convenient and appealing to local shoppers for the upcoming holidays.

To view Pamela’s portfolio or to book your very own session, visit