Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Busy Time of Year!!!

We've seen lots of magical moments in the last month in and around the studio. We appreciate you stopping by so we can share some of them with you.

Mark and Lissette Farina, along with their sons Stefano and Sergio, had a portrait session with us last month. We got lots of great pictures and had even more fun. Mark is an orthodontist with offices in both South and New Tampa. The Farina's live in New Tampa and were the high bidder of an Pepito Masterpiece Portraits Gift Certificate during an auction held at a Jesuit High School to raise money for the North Tampa institution.

The Farina family will display the portraits in their formal living room and dining room.

Around that same time, Jawahar Vadivelu came in for an executive portrait. The results were superior. I always try to keep my clients comfortable with refreshments, music and relaxed surroundings.

A Big "Thank You" to Channel Eight!!!

We were featured on NewsChannel Eight in December as part of a series on local businesses and citizens who do special things for the community during the holidays. I was interviewed during a portrait session break about my work with taking holiday portraits of families staying at Tampa's Metropolitan Ministries on Christmas Day. We do that every year and we wanted to encourage other businesses in our area to contribute their services in a special way to those less fortunate during the holidays.

Each of the families photographed on Christmas Day receives an 8 X 10, 2 - 5 X 7's and a set of wallet-sized photos as a gift from Pepito Masterpiece Portraits and Reedy PhotoProcess, 12125 28th Street N., St. Petersburg. The fine people at Reedy donate the photofinishing each year. They do an excellent job with all types of processing and you can learn more about them here:

I want to thank members of my staff for taking six hours out of their Christmas morning and early afternoon to help with this special work.

Gayle Guyardo came very early and did the interview, which was broadcast on the early morning news just before Christmas.

Fashion Funds the Cure

A group of beautiful young ladies who have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer came in to the studio earlier this month to be photographed for the upcoming Pediatric Cancer Foundation's "Fashion Funds the Cure" event to be held March 10 at the Neiman Marcus store, International Mall. We are actively involved in this yearly event and know that a cure is close at hand for these young people.

Those photographed were: Adriana Mininno, 7; Sara McCaslin, 6; Mia Johnson, 9; Erma Lewis, 7; Kaitlyn Chase, 10; Klarissa Cortez, 13 and Makayla Muir, 13. All of the young people and their families will receive copies of the portraits, which will be on display at the event. If you'd like to know more about the event or would like to attend, please go to:

Past and Upcoming Auctions

The Hospice Foundation of the Florida Suncoast held it's "Decade of Dreams" February 5. We were also part of Tampa Educational Station WEDU's Sojourn event last week. Upcoming auctions include ones conducted by: Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) on Food and Wine, to be held at the museum February 26; The Queen's Court, Inc. on February 26; and Carrollwood Day School's "Disco Ball" also on February 26. Please call us for more information on any of these. (There'll be lots of Gift Certificates out there on February 26!!!)

Portrait Session Becomes Holiday Party!

Just before Christmas, the full staff of the Danahy & Murray law group of Tampa came into the studio for individual portraits. They were here for executive and group portraits. The event turned into a really nice holiday party as those awaiting their turn before the camera partook of some excellent creations by our own Chef Steffano. Chef Steffano often cooks his culinary delicacies for our clients as a break from longer than usual sessions.

Everybody in the group had a great time and nobody was "served" except for delicious food!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas is here!!!

Christmas is tomorrow and I am now preparing all the toys and Teddy Bears given by friends and members of the Thursday "A Course In Miracles" group I teach to present to children at Tampa's Metropolitan Ministries. Each year members of my staff and me go to the charity and photograph families who find themselves living there temporarily because of a need during the holidays.

Doing the photos is one of the most fulfilling things we do at Pepito Masterpiece Portraits and even though we fore-go the traditional Christmas morning with our families, we get great satisfaction out of putting smiles on the faces of so many families during this giving season. I've got to be there at 7:15a.m. to set up the camera and lights to be ready to begin shooting at 8. We usually go on until early afternoon but the time spend is well worth it.

It's never too late to donate food of any kind to Metropolitan Ministries. They feed needy families year' round and are a wonderful and respected organization. We are so proud to help them serve the community.

Watch Us On WFLA-TV

Gayle Guyardo of WFLA NewsChannel Eight was at our studios last week and did a taping of me for a series of segments about those who give to the community during this Yuletide season. She interviewed me and her photographer taped a portrait session in progress. We were humbled to be selected for this honor.

Well folks, two segments will air separately between now and the end of the year. This morning's (Friday's) Tampa Tribune contained an ad that said one of the segments would be broadcast during the news this Monday at 4:30p.m. Normally, the Oprah Winfrey Show is on at that time and I seriously doubt they would preempt the great Oprah for a story about me. So either there has been a programming change or my segment will be on around 5:30p.m., a time when the news is normally on. Please check the newspaper listings and watch for me.

For more details about the upcoming television news feature, see my December 15, 2010 blog entry below.

All of us at Pepito Masterpiece Portraits extend to you the greatest wishes for a grand and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The holidays are always a busy time for the studio.

Last week I photographed 19 members of the Tampa law firm of Danahy & Murray P.A. Pepito Masterpiece Portraits had previously done work for someone in the firm who, in turn, suggested that we photograph all the attorneys individually.

Not only was it a great session, lasting about three-and-a-half hours, but it was combined with a little holiday get-together with the members exchanging gifts. Chef Stephan and his partner, Barbara, prepared some delicious hors d'oeuvres for everybody to munch on during the session.

It’s always a great affair when office groups come to the studio to have individual portraits taken. It’s a social event with no comparison. If your office or group would like to have us make a very special photographic experience for you and your office or organization, please call us to schedule a portrait session.

Florida’s New Attorney General

Pam Bondi, a Temple Terrace native and former prosecutor with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, came to the studio last week to have her official portrait taken. Yes, Pam will be sworn in next month as Florida’s new attorney general, having won that post in a statewide runoff election last month.

We are very proud to have been selected by her representative, Adam Goodman, to make the portrait. We had taken portraits of Mr. Goodman’s family recently and he was so pleased with them that he brought his client, Pam, to us for her official photographs.

We spent several hours working to get the best images possible. Chef Stephan was once again on hand to keep everybody in fancy finger foods and delicious beverages to make the portrait session a relaxing and memorable experience. We salute Pam and wish her luck in her new, very important office and that her and Adam for selecting me to make her official portrait.

Featured on WFLA NewsChannel Eight…

Gayle Guyardo and her cameraman, Scott, stopped by the studio this morning to work on a feature for broadcast later this month on Tampa businesses that do special things for special people during the holidays. The station learned of our work with the Pediatric Cancer Foundation for photographs taken of children who have the debilitating disease. One woman, who lost a photograph I had taken of her daughter who had since passed away due to cancer, was interviewed. We replaced the photograph which was destroyed along with her home four months ago.

Some scenes of a portrait session will be featured and I will say a few words about the worthy charities I work with during the year. Of course, as every year we will be taking holiday portraits on Christmas day at Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa. The organization provides temporary housing for families in need and we photograph individuals and families staying there who wish a holiday portrait and provide them at no cost to them.

The executive director of the One-Voice Foundation, Mary Ann Massolio, was also present while the story was being taped.

The television feature will be shown during morning Today Show cut-ins and the 5p.m. news programs on WFLA-TV sometime between Christmas and New Years Day. If we get an exact day and time, we'll post it on the blog.

A Star in our Midst…

Catherine Parks, a veteran actress who has been featured in numerous feature films and television shows, came to the studio to have some special masterpiece photographs taken for an upcoming episodic feature she’s pitching to the television networks.

Catherine, who was Miss Florida in 1977 and third runner-up in the Miss America Pageant that year, has been working nearly four years in writing and producing the initial pilot about Tampa and its colorful past, mafia and all.

We are so happy she was extremely pleased with the results of our photographic session and we’ll keep you posted on the success of her proposed network program.


Too all of our clients and friends throughout the Tampa Bay area and the country, we wish you the grandest of holidays and send our very best for a joyous and prosperous NEW YEAR!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Sincere Sympathy...

On behalf of my staff and friends, I send love and sympathy to our good friend Arch Deal and his family upon the passing of Arch's daughter, Karen T. Deal-Balin. She had been ill for several weeks and was transferred earlier this week from St. Joseph's Hospital to Hospice.

I had the honor of photographing Arch and his five children earlier this year. He had prints made for each of them, never anticipating this would be the last complete family portrait taken. Several of his children has flown to Tampa from North Carolina just for the session.

Karen was married to Marty Balin, founder of the sixties rock band Jefferson Airplane. Her father, Arch, is a media legend in Tampa, having been the top news anchor in this market on WFLA-TV in the sixties and seventies.

An informal celebration of Karen's life is set for Monday, November 22 beginning at 6:30p.m. at the American Legion Post 152, 11211 Sheldon Road. Family and friends are encouraged to share the wonderful memories of Karen's life with stories, photos and memorabilia.

A gathering will be held for Karen this Tuesday, November 23, 2p.m. at Blount & Curry Carrollwood Chapel, 3207 W. Bearss Avenue, with the family receiving friends at that time. A Memorial Service will begin at 3p.m.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Holidays are Upon Us!!!

Our studio gift certificates are an excellent gift for that very special family...or someone who has done a great deal for you. The amount of the certificates can vary according to your needs. Just thought I'd advance the idea since a gift of a Masterpiece Portrait can hardly be matched anywhere. Call us today to make arrangements. You'll be very impressed with the certificate itself, personalized from you to the person you're giving it to.

Pepito Masterpiece Portrait gift certificates aren't just for the holidays. The make great gifts for such special occasions as housewarmings, birthdays, graduations, promotions, etc. It's special anytime you give a family member or friend one of them.

A Whole Lot Has Happened

Our studio has been actively involved in a lot of fundraisers in the past month. Among them: Make a Wish Foundation, Night of the Iguana, October 8; The Muscular Dystrophy Association Hearts of Fire, October 9; The Straz Jr. Center Charity Broadway Ball, October 16; The All You Need Is Love Auction benefiting the Christ the King Catholic School, October 23. The Pink and Blue for Two at Busch Gardens with Olivia Newton John on October 27.

Others held recently were: The Centre for Girls, Crewe of Tampa Bay, November 11; Morton Plant- Mease One Magical Night, November 6; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, November 13; Jesuit High School Guardians, November 13; and the Sacred Heart Academy, November 13.

Coming up this Tuesday is the March of Dimes Signature Chefs event. If you'd like more information on any of these, call us at our Tampa studio...813-281-2829.

There are even more than the ones mentioned above. We are very happy to participate in charity fundraisers. If you have one coming up that involves a verbal or silent auction, let us know and we'll arrange a Pepito Masterpiece Portraits Gift Certificate to be a part of your event. Proceeds would go to the charity and the highest bidder would get a great portrait session and prints.

Jimmy Goodman...

...Came in for his Bah Mitzvah portraits recently. His intention was to display one of them at the place where guests sign in. Jimmy was a great client and we got some wonderful portraits of him.

Ybor City Walking Tours

Our good friend and client Lonnie Herman is giving 90-minute walking tours of Ybor City. Channel 28 WFTS - ABC Action News did a great story on him this weekend. The tours, which are $15 for adults and half that for kids, are held daily and begin at Centro Ybor. I've done a portrait for Lonnie's business cards and other promotions and can say he's a first class guy.

Lonnie came to Tampa in 1986 and fell in love with our area's history and particularly Ybor City. He got the idea for the tours because he felt so many people visit Ybor City but have no idea of its prominence in Tampa's history.

Get more information on Lonnie and the tour schedules at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Getting Busy at the Studio...

I recently had the honor of photographing Dan and Jennier Morgan along with their children: Ethan; Joshua and Natalie. As usual, the entire family was great before the camera and we got some outstanding portraits. It's always a joy when a session is as successful as Morgan family's was.

They came to the studio from their home in Trinity, a small area in Pasco County, as a result of being the high bidder for the portrait session at a Ronald McDonald House fundraiser.

Dave and Kim Murray along with son, Finn, were photographed at the studio at the end of September. They won a fundraiser auction at St. John's Episcopal Church in Hyde Park and are looking forward to locating their portraits over the fireplace in their living room.

Carlos and Lorena Leche and children Sofia and Tony recently spent a half of a Saturday in session to have some striking and timely portraits made for display in their home. The residents of New Tampa came as a result of attending a function for the American Heart Association.

Former County Commissioner Dottie Berger MacKinnon

A portrait I took of Dottie Berger MacKinnon, who was an outstanding public servant and member of the Hillsborough County Commission, will be displayed at A Kid's Place. The Place is a 60-bed facility located in Brandon she founded for care of abused, neglected and abandoned children. We salute her great work as this is not the first major non-profit project she has led the charge in forming and operating. The Pepito Masterpiece 30 X 30 Sepia Portrait of Ms. MacKinnon will be displayed at the facility.

We urge you to remember Ms. MacKinnon in your prayers and she undergoes treatment for an advanced stage of cancer. Contributions can also be made toward her great work at A Kid's Place by going to its web site at

Performing Arts Center Fundraiser

A week from this Saturday, October 16, the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts will host its signature fundraising event, the 2010 Broadway Ball. Pepito Masterpiece Portraits is very grateful for the opportunity of participating in this worthwhile event. A lot will happen that night so if you're interested in getting in on the action...and bidding on one of our portrait Sharon McDonald, Director of Special Events at the Straz, 813-222-1037.

Schedule Your Portrait Session Now!!!

The Christmas holidays are right around the corner...less than three months to go. If you'd like to have those very special portraits for the holidays, please call us as soon as possible to discuss dates they can be made. Call Karen or myself at the studio, 813-281-2829.

Have a great week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Every year I photograph young cancer patients for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. I am always impressed by the courage and strength with which these children face their treatment and their positive attitude toward achieving wellness.

This year so far, six have come in to the studio for portrait sessions. They are: Hannah March, 7, of Sarasota; Emma Hurriser, 7, of St. Petersburg; Jaylyn Rodriguez, 5, of Tampa; Madison Cavanaugh, 5, of Seminole; Emily Evans, 17, of Valrico; and Erica Cilini, 12. Four others will come in the weeks following and we'll report their names here.

This is something I do on an annual basis and the time I spend with these very special young people is especially satisfying. The resulting portraits are moving and show a resolve in each child's face that is not replicable. Both parents and children are delighted with their complimentary portraits, many of which are displayed at Pediatric Cancer Foundation events throughout the Tampa Bay area.

On Febuary 3, 2010, I attended a reception at the home of designer/goldsmith Owen J. Sweet on North Redington Beach. The event, attended by some 45 prominent area residents, was held to introduce the work of St. Petersburg-based sculptor/painter Lenne Nicklaus-Ball as well as some of my own selected works of portraiture. Hors d'oeuvres delightfully prepared by Chef Steffan were served along with some of Steffan's fine wine selections.

It was a great evening. Read these pages often for the locations of future receptions to which you will be invited.

Fashion Funds the Cure
next month. I hope you can join me for this exciting event!

In addition to enjoying delicious delicacies from top area restaurants, private shopping, and an incredible auction, each of our supporters has the unique opportunity to help make the memory of a lifetime for a young girl battling cancer by sponsoring her participation in the show. Scenes from our full spring fashion show feature these girls making their debut on the runway, modeling much more than clothing. Fashion Funds the Cure is a celebration of their incomparable strength and courage. These girls redefine beauty.

The Fashion Funds the Cure fashion show will be held:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saks Fifth Avenue
Westshore Plaza, Tampa

Special Guest Host

Carson Kressley


"How to Look Good Naked"


"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"

In addition to enjoying delicious delicacies from top area restaurants, private shopping, and an incredible auction, each of our supporters has the unique opportunity to help make the memory of a lifetime for a young girl battling cancer by sponsoring her participation in the show. Scenes from our full spring fashion show feature these girls making their debut on the runway, modeling much more than clothing. Fashion Funds the Cure is a celebration of their incomparable strength and courage. These girls redefine beauty.

$100 Individual Ticket
$250 Patron Ticket
(Includes a listing in the event program)

Advance reservations can be made by
calling (813) 269-0955.

I'll be there photographing the event and it would be great to see you participate as well. It's always a great evening for all who come.