Paul Figura, one of the most sought-after photographers in Jacksonville, died Friday morning, less than two weeks after turning 51. He had been hospitalized since Feb. 18, when he suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage.


Friends said he made new friends easily, offered advice freely to other photographers, and enjoyed surfing, custom motorcycles, his work and his family.

In 1993, he left the corporate world, where he’d been a computer engineer, and opened his own photography studio.

He did numerous projects for the Jacksonville Jaguars, for whom he shot games and some of their most high-profile ad campaigns. One recent project was the commercial where various Jaguars, Coach Gus Bradley and mascot Jaxson DeVille wreak havoc in a fan’s living room.

For the Roar, the team’s cheerleading squad, he shot portraits and their annual swimsuit calendar. Last year, he traveled to London to photograph Roar cheerleaders in their uniforms and in their lingerie — a glamorous assignment, to be sure.

But he was just as enthusiastic when he went to rural, working-class South Carolina to shoot portraits for a national bank ad campaign, friend Kevyn Faulkenberry said.

“If he was working, he was happy,” said Faulkenberry, a vice president at the Dalton Agency, one of the many ad firms for which Mr. Figura did work. “He lived with real joy, and got to do something he truly loved doing, which not a lot of people can say.”

Mr. Figura took a series of portraits of people posing with a dollar bill he gave them. For each photo, inspired by the Bob Marley song “One Love,” he had stamped the word “LOVE” under the “ONE” on the bill.

Amy Ploss-Samson, Mr. Figura’s assistant and studio manager for 10 years, said he was constantly in motion, yet related easily to his customers and his subjects.

“It could be a celebrity or a 2-year-old, and he could make it work,” she said.

Clint Burbridge, an artist, traveled with Mr. Figura on several surf trips to Indonesia and Costa Rica. “He’s the most mellow, the coolest guy in the world. Just chill,” Burbridge said. “Paul could travel with anyone.”

Burbridge spoke with him on his birthday, and said Mr. Figura was already planning another surf trip to Costa Rica this summer.

Logan Bowles said Mr. Figura was always ready to offer advice to other photographers — those he met in person, or those from around the country who saw his work online.

Bowles, 25, is photo editor at Void magazine at the Beaches; a few years ago, after meeting through mutual friends on Facebook, Mr. Figura offered him a chance to assist on a Roar calendar shoot.

“From that point forward, he went from a teacher to a father figure,” Bowles said. “He was my best friend.”

He recalled seeing Mr. Figura drinking coffee at his San Marco studio, observing the morning commuters passing by.

“He would watch people drive downtown to work, with their heads against the steering wheel, like, ‘I hate this.’ And said, ‘I did that at one point in my life, and I’m not going to do that anymore.”

Mr. Figura is survived by his son, Nick; his daughter, Taylor, and his partner, Nia Bradberry. Services have not yet been announced.


Matt Soergel: (904) 359-4082