Art began his photographic career in high
school, taking pictures of pretty girls during PE class and
selling them to the guys. He began his career as press photographer
with The Tampa Tribune in 1959, winning numerous awards including
News Picture of the Year from the West Coast Press Photographers
Association in 1961.
Two years later, he left the newspaper to
start his own photographic studio where he quickly gathered
a loyal following of clients such as Budweiser Beer, Seagrams,
Shell Oil Company, Florida State Fair, and many other biggies.
For many years, Art spent his weekends shooting wedding pictures
and these days he constantly runs into the children and grand-children
of many of the couples whose weddings he photographed.
Art has been a fixture in Tampa for so long
that there aren't too many who don't recognize him or his omnipresent
smile. He has always been popular with radio and television
people having been involved in covering local events for the
newspaper and later as a commercial photographer.
Among his top accomplishments was shooting
the cover of the "Love Can Make You Happy" by Mercy
record album, a job he was hired to do by the group's promoter
Gil Cabot, in 1970. Art is one of Cabot's local screwees and
is still owed over $5,000 excluding interest for work he did
for Cabot almost 35 years ago.
He is also noted for starting the first
stretch limousine service on the West Coast of Florida in 1968.
The operation stretched his pocketbook a little too much and
it folded after three years.
Art is still very active in commercial photography.
He returned to The Tampa Tribune in 1988 and is still employed
as a computer photographic technician with Media General, Inc.
UPDATE Saturday, December 21st 2013:
Art Thomas Passed away today. He had been in a nursing home recuperating from back and shoulder surgery. A great guy! Rest in pease Art...