Photo Shop

By Hannah Wallace February 29, 2004

The new glass and steel Photo-Tech headquarters on Fruitville Road in east Sarasota County is stylish and worldly, a fitting home for the business that takes its owner, commercial photographer Peter Turo, all over the globe.

For corporate clients like Pepsi, IBM, Prudential Securities and Pfizer, Photo-Tech produces "image portfolios"-scrapbooks that chronicle the companies' corporate sales meetings, conventions and incentive trips. Photo-Tech's 32 photographers, based all over the world, e-mail these photos back to the Sarasota headquarters, where they're printed on high-volume printing machines and assembled into leather-bound scrapbooks by a team of white-gloved women arranged at rows of long tables.

Turo's archives include image portfolios with photos of famous people schmoozing with corporate bigwigs; here's Mick Jagger at Pepsi's 100th anniversary celebration in Hawaii in 1998; there's a smiling Donald Trump-flanked by ex-wife Ivana and girlfriend Melanie-at a pharmaceutical company convention at Trump's Palm Beach resort, Mira Lago.

It's a lucrative business. Photo-Tech produces some 6,000 image portfolios each year; that's why the company outgrew its old Tuttle Avenue offices, where they'd been located for six years.

In January, Photo-Tech moved into the 25,000-square-foot building located on two acres immediately west of Julie Rohr Academy near I-75. It occupies four-fifths of the two-story building; the remaining 5,000 square feet are available for rent at $18 per square foot. Hembree & Associates is the leasing agent.

Tampa architect Angel del Monte of Alfonso Architects, the same firm that designed Tampa International Airport and the Tampa Museum of Art, is responsible for the modernist look.

Downstairs, large open spaces mark the production area. Industrial canister lights hang from ceiling pipes, air-conditioning ducts are exposed and floors are cement. Two-story glass walls both in front and in back of the building frame giant oaks.

Upstairs along a catwalk open to the floor below, graphics and administrative staff are housed in futuristic pod-like Knoll A3 office cubicles with white translucent mesh screens and bright orange shelving components. Turo's untraditional office is upstairs, too; instead of a desk, his workspace is a square of glass atop a 120-year old camera stand.

Turo plans a private museum to display his extensive collection of photographic equipment, from a 1860s-era daguerreotype camera to a 20- x 24-inch Polaroid camera, one of only 10 in the world.

Turo says the design was an enjoyable collaboration; he and del Monte, an old friend, drew their ideas on a napkin in a coffee shop, then the architect took those ideas and created 3-D animation drawings of the finished facade.

"It was a very fun creative process," he says. "What a pleasure to be able to walk inside your dream."

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