Picture of the Day: Matera, Italy


Photo: Luca Pioltelli, Copyright 2018



Photography and Text by Luca Pioltelli, Copyright 2018




Known as “la Citta Sotterranea” (the Subterranean City), Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, having been inhabited since the 10th millennium BC.  Its historical center “Sassi”, is considered a World Heritage Site UNESCO since 1993.

On September 21, 1943, the Materani rose against the German occupation, the first Italian city to fight against the Nazis.



Self Portrait by Luca Pioltelli, Copyright 2018


About The Photographer: 

Born and raised in Milan , Italy, where, in the mythical eighties, he decided to give his body and soul to one of his favorite hobbies : ….. soccer.
Unfortunately , legs and talent, not as powerful as his unbridled passion, force him to look into other directions: …Luca pretty soon lands on another love , photography.

He moves to New York in 1991 where he starts working with some of the great names in the business : Fabrizio Ferri, Steven Klein and Paolo Roversi.
He considers himself a very lucky man:
Luca lives in a city he loves, he loves his wife ( two kids ) who live with him in Brooklyn, New York. He makes a living out of a job he loves …

His hobbies: movies, interior design, history books, art , museum visits… while sometimes , inevitably , he still puts on his soccer shoes…

He has been published in several International Magazines such as : AD Germany, German Vogue , l’Uomo Vogue , Casa Vogue, Italian Marie Claire,
The New York Times while collaborating with prestigious
Architectural Firms and gifted Designers.


You can follow his work on his instagram account : @lucapioltelli
or check his website herehttp://lucapioltelli.com


Posted in Architecture, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Engineering, Environment, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison 2018 #5


Bob Shell: Letters From Prison



Letters From Prison: Part 5, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Retuning, as promised, to 2003: On June 7 when I returned from attending Marion’s memorial service and wake in North Carolina I was arrested on charges that were later dismissed and thrown in jail, where I was held for thirty days until bail could be arranged and I was released on house arrest.

On September 10 a Radford grand jury indicated me based almost entirety on testimony of Dr, William Massello III, assistant medical examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Massello testified that Marion was dead in the last series of photos I had made of her on June 3, 2003. He was totally wrong, and destroyed my life with his arrogant nonsense. Massello is, in my opinion, an incompetent and dangerous quack, and this is hardly only my opinion. Let me illustrate:

Susan Jean Daniels, a Virginia Tech biologist, disappeared. A skeleton was found some time later in the ruins of an old cabin in Giles County, VA. The skeleton was sent to Massello for identification and he said that the bones were from “a stray animal.”. Forensic anthropologists from Radford University were called in by friends of the missing woman and immediately identified the bones as human, and they were later positively identified as Daniels. If her friends hadn’t questioned Massello’s statements, Daniels would simply have remained a missing person and her murderer probably never apprehended. But Susan Daniels was not Massello’s only major screwup.

In 2000 the body of “Mickey” Faville, a popular 5th grade school teacher in Christiansburg, VA, was found in her home. Massello performed an autopsy and stated that she had died from choking on a piece of chicken. Once more, friends and family were not satisfied, but it took them years to get anyone to pay attention. In 2012 the case was finally reopened and a new medical examiner, Dr. Amy Tharp, performed a new autopsy, and came to a radically different conclusion: Mickey Faville had been manually strangled. Massello had missed the obvious signs on her throat and inside her mouth. Her husband Ward was very belatedly charged with her murder. He was tried and convicted, but “cheated” the Commonwealth by committing suicide with a razor blade in the court’s holding cell after the jury found him guilty. He’d lived free for twelve years thanks to Massello’s incompetence.

In a remarkably similar case, in 2005 Mindy Dickerson was found dead in her home in Pulaski County. Massello again performed the autopsy but this time there was no convenient piece of chicken to blame, so he picked encephalitis, a rare brain disease, and said Mindy died from that! Again, it took years for anyone to pay attention, but Mindy’s family and friends finally got someone’s attention and Dr. Tharp again performed a new autopsy and, once again, said the cause of death was manual strangulation. Mindy’s husband, remarried and with a new family, was charged with her murder and extradited from Texas for trial. But he never went on trail because Massello had contaminated the brain tissue samples with material from at least two other bodies. He testified that no one should expect his autopsy samples to be uncontaminated because “there is nothing sterile about the morgue.”. (What about all those of us who had tests of those, probably contaminated, samples used against us?). Mindy Dickerson’s husband, who most likely murdered her, had all charges dismissed because the contaminated brain tissue was useless as evidence and the judge had no choice but to throw the case out. (Details of these cases were all taken from news stories that appeared in The Roanoke Times. You can read the original stories in their archives at www.roanoke.com. Also you can find more on Massello via a Google search on his name.)

Now here’s an important point, the Commonwealth (Virginia is a Commonwealth, not a state per se) reopened those two cases only because Massello’s testimony had gone against their cases. In cases like mine, where Massello’s testimony bolstered their case – in fact WAS their case, they will fight tooth and nail not to reopen cases.

In early 2007 Massello left Virginia for a job as Medical Examiner for North Dakota, where his shoddy work has also come under fire. In an interview with the trade publication Energywire he said that his findings mean “absolutely nothing” when it came to settling legal questions. So why am I still in prison?

I’ve had good evidence since 2009 that Massello’s testimony in my case was BS. I contacted Dr. Cyril Wecht, probably the most respected pathologist in the USA, maybe the world, and he said unequivocally that Massello was completely wrong. I tried to use this in my postconviction attacks on my conviction. Guess what the court said? The judge said I should have had Dr. Wecht testify at my trial. That there was no reason I couldn’t have had him there. Try money – Wecht doesn’t work for free and by trial time I was flat broke and the judge refused to pay for any expert witnesses. Wecht won’t even deal with anyone who doesn’t have a lawyer. He told me Massello was wrong in an informal letter, but won’t go on the record unless paid. In trying to get my case back in court I have been frustrated by the fact that expert witnesses won’t even talk to someone who has no lawyer. Most don’t even answer polite letters of inquiry. I have wasted countless postage writing to people who don’t even have the common courtesy to respond.

But there has been one hopeful exception, Dr. William T. Gormley, current Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia. I’ll talk about him another time……


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/03/18/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-2018-4/


Posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture

Field Report: Sony RX100 V


Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018



Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018


Field Report: Sony RX100V


I’ve been working with the new Sony RX100V since December of 2017. It was first time that I made a complete switch in shooting style and I was mostly interested in a camera that was mirrorless, high in resolution and extremely portable.  I switched to digital capture in 2004 and worked my way through several single lens reflex DSLR’s before I decided to make a wholesale change with respect to day to day shooting.  There is nothing like a high end 50 megapixel  camera for making large exhibition prints. However, the RX100V is holding up extremely well with its 21 megapixel image sensor.

The photograph taken above speaks to the spontaneity inherent in keeping this small camera in my pocket; whenever I leave the studio. I was on my way to the Reading Terminal market in center city Philadelphia to test the camera in a fast moving environment, when I came upon this window display at The Trocadero, a famous night club in center city where I have  photographed to the wee hours of the morning in the early nineties.  This window display instantly captured my attention and reminded me of the fun times mingling with the interesting club goers at this iconic night spot.

With my camera set to Shutter priority at 1/60th, and ISO of 100, the cameras metering system calculated the f-stop at 2.8. With this setting I was able to capture excellent detail on the fly with no camera shake. By shooting in RAW I maximized the cameras pixel power and was able to crop out any extraneous information on the edges of the frame without a loss of image quality. The next big test for the camera is to make large exhibition prints.  I will report on printing results in another post.


To access pictures taken at The Trocadero during the early 1990’s, click herehttp://tonyward.com/early-work/alternative-lifestyles-1995-1998/


To access additional pictures taken with the Sony RX100V, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/03/09/george-krause-lunch-legend/


Tony Ward Shooting With the Sony RX100V

Tony Ward Shooting With the Sony RX100V


About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Tony Ward,  click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/george-krause-lunch-with-a-legend/


Posted in Blog, Cameras, Documentary, News, Photography, Popular Culture

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison 2018 #4


Shutterbug Magazine



Letters From Prison: Part 4, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Let me talk a bit about what happened to me, particularly because something similar could happen to almost anyone in today’s America. The year was 2003 and I was at the top of my game. In 2001 I had been “retired” from my long-time job as Editor of the photography magazine Shutterbug. Rather than force me out altogether, which would have looked bad to the photo industry, they made me Editor At Large, cut my pay to less than half, but on the bright side they freed me from my contractual obligation to write articles only for them. So I began writing regularly for Rangefinder (edited then by my old friend Bill Hurter), Professional Photographer, Photo Electronic Imaging, Photo Techniques, Digital Camera, Zoom, and several others domestically. I continued to do product reviews for BestStuff.com (who also put together the Gadget Guru segments for NBC’s Today Show). Plus I was writing photo books for Lark Books, a division of Barnes & Noble, working as a consultant for National Geographic on their photo guides, and writing some product instructions for Kodak (if you have a Kodak Gray Card, those are my instructions). I also wrote a section of a book on how to use light meters for Sekonic.

I was happy, working on personal photo projects in my studio in Radford, Virginia. People used to ask why I lived in a small town, and I always answered that it was the lower cost of everything. I was able to have a large studio for peanuts, and since I very rarely did anything for local clients I did not have to scrounge for local business to support myself.

Everything was going great and I was working on photos for a book that was a departure for me, a book of photos of erotic bondage. The book was the idea of Marion Franklin, my girlfriend and chief model. She had the idea and I sold it to a publisher. (The book, Erotic Bondage: Art of Rope came out in 2004 under my pseudonym Edward Lee, a pseudonym I’d used since 1993 for my overseas work — Not really so much a pseudonym, since my full name is Robert Edward Lee Shell).

I’d never really done any bondage photography prior to the summer of 2002 when I did a shoot with bondage pro Maria Shadoes and a friend of hers who was also heavily into bondage, and we played at it a bit. Later I did some with Elkie Cooper, one of my favorite models that I’d photographed for years, ever since she turned 18. She’d gotten onto bondage and had worked for some very fine photographers, including Lee Higgs, whose book Generation Fetish was a favorite of mine.

On June 3, 2003 my world came crashing down. Marion and I had worked all day with Maria Shadoes and her boyfriend Lew Rubens, both bondage pros who spent the day teaching me ties and safety procedures. I’d never had a model injured during a photo shoot and wanted to make sure it never happened. Maria and Marion were our subjects and Lew did some elaborate ties and suspensions with them. I wanted a record of everything, so I took many still photos and also set a video camera up on a tripod to record everything. I’d developed a habit of setting up a video camera and recording all studio shoots.

After we finished for the day we were all bushed. Marion went to sleep on the studio bed, Maria and Lew left for the day, and I walked down the block to the Sonic to get some food, since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I was gone maybe half an hour and came back to the studio to set things up for a shoot planned for the next day. After a while when I walked by the bed I couldn’t hear Marion snoring (she always snored softly) and tried to wake her up. She would not respond, so I freaked out and ran to the phone and called 911. That’s when my nightmare began. To be continued…….


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-prison-2018-3/


Posted in Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Women

Anisha Arora: Shoes


Photo: Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018


Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018








When talking about Lewis W. Hine, one of the photographers included in the book, the author writes that “he conceived of the medium as a means of studying and describing the social conditions around him”. That is also how I aim to use the art of photography- to bring to light difficult truths that we often want to forget.

What I found truly intriguing while reading the book was the variations between photographers. Variations in their purpose/objective behind photography, as well as, variations in what they found worth capturing on camera. While some find fashion photography to be their calling, some find it interesting to capture the mundane routines of common people. Among all the photographers, I could most relate to Lewis W. Hine.

Hine wanted to use photography to drive social change, and his pictures were a celebration of people who had nerve, skill, muscle, and tenacity. He captured the common people. That’s what I want to achieve through my photographs. His picture of little children on the streets, reminded me of a picture (attached as a jpeg) I happened to click while walking on a street in Ethiopia in the town of Harar. The picture is of a small 7-8 year-old boy splashing water over his face to cool down in the terrible heat. This water is generally used to clean people’s shoes. This boy, like many other 5-12 year-old boys, is a “shoe-shine” boy. These children leave their homes in Ethiopia’s rural areas to work in the big cities as shoe-polishers. They stay in deplorable living conditions, often beg for food and money, have never seen a school classroom and are most likely physically and sexually exploited. They save a part of their meagre incomes to support their families back in the rural areas, who make next to nothing from agriculture. What I find beautiful about this picture is that the boy seems so happy splashing the water on his face. This is normal life for him- he has forgotten his miseries and adapted to life on the streets.

I lived in Ethiopia for a year before school, working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Prime Minister’s Office on strategy and policy projects aimed at improving incomes of smallholder farmers. I’m hoping that some of my organization’s projects can raise agricultural incomes, so that more children don’t have to leave their families and can have a normal childhood.


About The Author: Anisha Arora is enrolled in the Graduate program, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Anisha Arora, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/anisha-arora-roller-coaster/


Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Health Care, History, News, Photography, Politics, Travel, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women