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Sunday Conversation: Dr. David Lubin photographs Tampa Bay for annual calendar

Dr. David Lubin recently found himself driving north on Howard Avenue in Tampa when he spotted an orange bicycle.

Really orange. The tires, the handlebars, the frame. Everything. He couldn't resist.

Always in the market for photos that reflect life in Tampa Bay, Lubin made a quick turn, pulled his camera out of the trunk and snapped some shots of the bicycle.

Lubin's photographic eye rarely takes a break. He has run a family medicine practice in South Tampa for more than 35 years, but in his free time, he always looks for possibilities for his annual "Tampa Bay" calendar, now in its 21st year.

With an advertising tab for different companies — Lubin counts Italiano Insurance and Tower Diagnostics among his customers — the calendars have proved both profitable and popular. The photos reflect the area's annual traditions and scenic backdrops, and the event listings keep people apprised of what's happening in Tampa Bay.

Lubin, 64, recently spoke to the Times' Ernest Hooper about his love of photography and how it drives his passion for the calendar.

What's the genesis of the calendar?

In 1991, St. Joseph's (Hospital) did a calendar. They said, "We're going to have a contest for staff and doctors," so I entered that. In the '80s, I had been making a holiday card. I would take my best picture and make a customized holiday card. When I saw St. Joseph's calendar, I said, I can do this. I can make a calendar and sell them and make some money. Over the 20 years, I've probably sold close to 400,000 calendars. I'm real proud of it.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

It's hard to say. I photograph the Gasparilla races, which are fun to do because you get the feeling and the emotion and the expressions of the runners. I like shooting the moon, different things with the moon, and I love shooting the stuff at the fair with the rides.

What keeps you going after 20 years?

I still have leftover pictures (laughs). I just keep shooting and collecting and putting them in the folder on my computer. Come August or September, I print them out. If something is more time-related — say the World Series or the Stanley Cup — than a sunset or a fair picture, it goes in. I look at everything through a camera.

So that's a constant thing, shooting photographs?

Yeah. If we're going to the beach, I'm shooting sunsets. If we're going to fireworks, I'm shooting fireworks. We went to the Tough Mudders competition and there is one I could probably pick out and use as the monthly picture. Everybody threw their used tennis shoes in a stack for donations, and I just shot the stack of tennis shoes. That could show up as a small picture.

In picking the monthly photos, is there a certain theme or feeling you're trying to create?

I have one concept that I do: Can you look at this picture for a month? My concept is can you look at this picture for a month without going, "I'm tired of looking at this picture." I try to have maybe an animal or two. I try to have a beach scene. I try to have a fireworks scene every year. During Gasparilla month, I usually have a picture from Gasparilla. I try to make it theme-related base on that month.

On the back of each calendar, there are photos of people posing in an out-of-town, often exotic location while holding up your calendar. How did that start?

That started '96 or '97. The first year I had eight pictures. (The late) Dr. Fred Reddy went on a trip to Egypt, and his son was sitting on a camel with a pyramid in the background. That was one of the first pictures. The pictures were (nice and big) because I only had eight. Then, patients would come in and bring me more pictures. They would say, "Hey doc, I'm going on a trip." I would say, "Hey, take my calendar, hold it up and we'll put you on the back of the calendar." So it got to the teens and then in the 20s. Now, it's 50-some pictures every year.

Sunday Conversation: Dr. David Lubin photographs Tampa Bay for annual calendar 12/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 12:50pm]
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