LEWISTON — After decades shooting flowers and wildlife, Bonita Boothby is turning her photography into more of a business, and turning her mom into art.

Boothby, 61, has 15 of her 8-by-8-inch bright, floral photos hanging at Bear Bones Beer. She also has newly created mugs and notecards from her work and from a cache of old, nostalgic photographs, some of which feature her late mother, Pamela Boothby.

In the photos from the 1950s, Pamela is in her 20s with a wide smile, bright red lips, great hair. Boothby has added sayings like “Stay classy and a little bit sassy.”

“Mom as she got older, got to be kind of an introvert and had phobias, but this shows that she was really a classy, strong lady in her day,” said Boothby. “It makes me smile looking at her. The family joke is she would be upset that so many people were looking at her, but she would be happy that I was doing something like that.”

Boothby grew up on a small farm in Livermore that had cows, chickens, geese, ducks, one goat and her parents’ flower gardens. She loved being outdoors then and still does.

“I live on the same land I grew up on,” she said. “I’ll grab my camera now and head out snowshoeing. It’s very relaxing, peaceful. When I’m walking around, I’ll get a feeling. (If) it gives me a calm feeling or hits me a certain way, I’ll just take pictures.”


Her flower shots are inches away and tight.

“I like getting as close as I can,” Boothby said. “I like it when you can see the little hairs, the crispness of it.”

She chose the pieces for Bear Bones, up through March 4, for their color and brightness in the blah of winter.

She’s worked a number of different jobs, at age 30 going back to college for graphic design. For the last three years, Boothby’s been a driver for students with special needs, logging 150 miles a day.

Boothby said her daughter, Sheri Withers Hollenbeck, who founded the Hive and Downtown Handmade, has always encouraged her to pursue photography more, and after getting divorced last year, she has.

She updated her business name to Bonita Boothby Photography, turned out at craft fairs, had pieces in the local art walk and participated in last weekend’s downtown art crawl.


“I’m hoping to build it into more of a business that I enjoy,” she said.

Part of that is expanding into mugs and prints. One of her favorite non-flower, non-mom shots is of a tired brick building by the old Cowan Mill, near the Great Falls, with “hope” and “love” written in giant white graffiti in front of it.

“I love the brick, anything vintage, old, nostalgic, and then the message against that old background, it just kind of pops out,” she said. “I’ve become more spiritual since my divorce and I’m trying to include that into my photography with positive quotes and affirmations, that’s why I love the ‘hope/love’ photo so much.”

Under one of the old photos of her mother, a maybe-reluctant cover girl, she’s added: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“She was a hoot,” said Boothby. “She had a good sense of humor.”


Bonita Boothby holds a nostalgic photographic greeting card with sassy saying, made from an image of her mother. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Bonita Boothby holds one of her flower prints hanging Friday at her photography show at Bear Bones Beer in Lewiston. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

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