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Quote Unquote: Pam Chambers Captures Hidden Art With Her Smartphone


Photo: David Croxford 

For decades, presentation coach Pam Chambers has been whipping Honolulu professionals into shape with her keen eye for form and public-speaking prowess. Her new photography book of downtown Honolulu, There and Back, shows a different side of this decorous dame, with astute smartphone shots that celebrate some of the neighborhood’s many dreamily familiar, tragically overlooked details.


THIS BOOK IS ABOUT helping people not walk right past a detail that would astonish and amaze and delight them. And etiquette is about details as well, details that please other people. If I cover my mouth when I sneeze, that’s going to be pleasing to you, since I’m not sneezing all over your plate! If I say “my pleasure” instead of “no problem,” that’s a little, tiny detail, but it’s a pleasant detail. 


WHEN I MOVED TO my small studio apartment, I didn’t have a craft room anymore, which had been completely devoted to art and artwork. Well, now I’m in a space that’s so much smaller, that bringing out my supplies is such a big deal, this (my photographs) is my new art. 


PUBLIC SPEAKING IS AN ART. It’s an art to overcome your fear—that takes conscious, deliberate know-how. But then, also, it’s an art to create a relevant talk for a large group that might be different from what you thought you were going to say to them. Your talk could be entirely different from what you planned. And I consider that an art. I consider it not an art when people read PowerPoint slides to me. Just give me the handouts and I’ll read them in bed tonight!


WHEN EVERYONE walks around with their faces stuck in their phones, I’m amazed that they’re not tripping over the detail of an uneven sidewalk! This is a wonderful device, do not get me wrong. I love everything it does—including taking pictures! But I think it can get in the way of developing relationships in a natural, organic way.


Photo: Pam Chambers

THIS IS the beautiful domed ceiling of the Hawaiian Electric building. If you were to just look up, you would see it! But almost everyone who looks at this picture admits that they’ve never seen this before. 


FOR 27 YEARS, I lived in Niu Valley in a house, and when I came downtown to do my work, I would drive, park, go do the work and leave. I was either walking quickly to get there or walking quickly to avoid more parking expenses … and I wasn’t taking the time to look. But, about five years ago, I moved downtown. I walk almost everywhere, and I’m not in a hurry to leave, so it gives me a chance to really look and see things. 


THE DILLINGHAM TRANSPORTATION BUILDING on Bishop Street has two decorative heads mounted on the building. One of them is Dillingham, the man who founded that Dillingham Transportation Company, and the other one looks like a Hawaiian man. He may have been someone Dillingham worked with. I don’t know anyone who knows who that man is. But it’s a handsome, Hawaiian-looking head with a sash and lots of detail—and no one notices!


To reserve a personalized copy of Chambers’ limited-run book for $75, contact her at speakout@pamchambers.com or 377-5679.




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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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