Category Archives: Documentary

Bob Shell: The Evolution of Photography


Louise Daguerre


Bob Shell: Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #30


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018




When and where was photography invented? The standard story you will find in books on photographic history is that a Frenchman named Daguerre first fixed an image on a silver plated metal surface. The negative/positive process that became the standard for so many years is credited to William Henry Fox Talbott, an eccentric Englishman. Those are the standard stories.

Long before photography artists were using the camera obscura (literally dark room), a device which projected an image onto a surface. Someone had observed that in a darkened room with a hole in the wall an upside down image of the world outside was projected onto the wall opposite the hole. Fitting a lens into the hole allowed focusing of the image and made the image sharper. Fixing that image became an obsession of many, but none succeeded. Artists at first just tacked a sheet of paper to the wall and drew the scene. Later, the lens was mounted on the front of a portable wooden box with the glass plate at the other end. The artist would put his paper against the glass and observe and draw the image seen through the paper. At some point it was discovered that a mirror could be mounted in the box at a 45 degree angle to the lens axis and the glass plate moved to the top of the box. This made the image upright, but left to right reversed. This worked great outdoors so long as the artist was in the shade or had an assistant holding an umbrella (literally little shadow). Some brilliant person invented a leather or wood hood that surrounded the glass and blocked off excess light. I’m not sure at what point it occurred to someone to mount the box on a tripod, but the whole apparatus was then nicely portable. Thus, by the time of Leonardo most of the elements of a photographic camera already existed. The camera obscura revolutionized perspective in art and we begin to see paintings like those of Jan Vermeer that look remarkably like photographs. Although there’s no proof, I’d put money on Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura. Before photography, the camera obscura also became a popular attraction. There is a beautifully preserved Victorian one at Hove/Brighton on the Sussex coast. It is a round building with a big lens on top that projects a wonderful panorama of the surrounding. landscape onto a big bowl-shaped screen that you walk around and look down into. If you’re in the area, it is well worth seeing.

Who solved the problem of capturing the projected image chemically rather than artistically? In Russia you will be told that photography is a Russian invention. In Brazil you will hear that it is a Brazilian invention. And in China … And so on. maybe a lot of folks got the idea. I’ve seen pictures of ancient Chinese plates that have images on them looking for all the world like photographs, so maybe photography is much older than we’re taught in class. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone found photographic images in an Egyptian tomb. There’s an old saying: There’s nothing new under the sun.


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 for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here:


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Kiera Roberto: Saving Daisy



Text and Video by Kiera Roberto, Copyright 2018

Saving Daisy will pick up where the Netflix film “Audrie & Daisy” left off.  This short documentary will follow Daisy Coleman’s journey of healing from lifelong trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, through treatment using EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) Therapy. 

Millions of people from all over the world came to learn about Daisy’s sexual assault when her story went viral and was followed by a feature length documentary.  But that was only the beginning of her journey as a survivor.  With this film, Daisy has joined forces with a team of filmmakers and fellow survivors to follow her vulnerable PTSD recovery process, in an effort to inspire other survivors and their families in recovery.  We will follow her through her EMDR treatment to unlock the layers of trauma from her assault, the tragic death of her father prior to the assault, as well as the recent sudden loss of her younger brother.  Daisy has faced more trauma in her 21 years than anyone should ever be faced with in a lifetime, but this film will prove to survivors everywhere that healing is possible.

This film will become part of the learning tools offered by SafeBAE, the national organization that Daisy helped to found in 2015, which works to prevent sexual assault among teens. 


Please donate. Link to Kickstarter funding


Kiera Roberto: Fimmaker/Producer. Hollywood

Kiera Roberto: Fimmaker/Producer. Hollywood

About The Author: Kiera Roberto has been pursuing film for a couple of years with a few music videos and short films under her belt.  The most important part of the film platform is that she is able to fight issues she firmly believes in.  In addition to this film, Ms. Roberto is on the board of a non profit SAFEBAE that creates educational videos for students in grade schools. This is Kiera’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.


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Ed Simmons: Venice Beach Trashed



Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018




OK, like the way most things go in Venice, we should hope too that this is transitory. God only knows it ain’t normal this blight. Walk out onto the sand, step in someone’s shit, maybe get stuck by a syringe flung out from someone’s tent.  This group shows literally no respect. For half a century I’ve floated in and out of  Venice Beach, California.  LA’s ghetto on the sand. I’ve watched  it change. Every time it seems when an uproar over one group is raised and the group gets run out, something worse always fills the vacuum.  What i’m seeing today, for tomorrow is scary.

House keeping on the sand.  Yeah, thats right. Weekly maid service for the homeless. What happens each Friday, people camped out on the sand, camped out on most all the side alleys connecting the Speedway to the Ocean Front Walk.  They gather up whatever belongings they wish to keep, then move it up and out of the way, while waiting for the mess they don’t want to be taken away.  So, I wonder whether this “Every Friday Morning Venice Beach Cleanup Routine” might just be feeding a vicious cycle of co-dependency.  These kooks, not cleaning up their own mess, leaving their trash all over the side streets and sand, should be fined handsomely, then run out of town. 

Certainly what we’re seeing here is a public health problem. However, I’m guessing some of this situation could get resolved soon.  After years of blocking chainstores from occupying any boardwalk storefront space, Starbucks is helping out by contributing some decent restroom facilities.  Lord knows, the public bathrooms haven’t been able to handle the homeless load.

In other news, Snapchat employees moved in to town.  The rents went up and the price for a regular cup of coffee went up too. I recently went with a friend for some lunch. New management at an old spot set in. We ordered a couple chicken enchalada’s, each with rice and beans, no chips, no salsa, no service, no cheese, $26 bucks, yes,… $26.00 bucks! I said no cheese on the beans! With Snap Inc. grabbing up all the space on market street, acquiring so many of the storefronts/properties along the boardwalk, prices for everything, everywhere across town now seem to be double what they used to be! They ran the artists out. A  few were able to find other spaces, but Market Street was gutted, for years this Venice Street was filled with studios and galleries. Well that ended quick. Snapchat has decided maybe it be better now to move their urban campus to the Santa Monica Airport. It goes without saying things are really hurting here in this little gem of a beach town. I’m praying for life to get better, not continuing to get worse.

Ya really gotta watch your bike in Venice Beach.  Seems a lot of wrenching goes on down by the Ocean Front Walk. One could lose a wheel or a seat as fast as a blink of an eye. Early in the morning, right after the first of the month, out on the boardwalk riding, you see signs that people out here been spinning in circles all night, all sprung, so much random stuff flung everywhere. Its sad. Seems anymore all of this is just accepted as normal. ITS NOT!

 Please don’t let me be misunderstood.  I’ve at times come back to Venice homeless too.  Almost anyone can be chopped off at the knees. The Venice Beach community has always had compassion for the down and out. A diverse community of locals, some of whom I’ve known near 40 years in Dogtown  all have a home. I know this guy, this old friend is a savant. I was hanging with him just the other day. We were talking about all this mess left out all around his home. You don’t see any tents pitched anywhere near his spot. His oasis. He keeps it clean. So we were talking, I told him my birthday was coming up in a few days. That I was turning 66. He said “your a Dragon”. I said yes, a Water Dragon. His eyes lit up.  He said “interesting you know that, I  then said my Mother was an Earth Dragon”. Then we started talking about the order of elements in the  Chinese Astrological Chart and how it represented a cyclical world, then “The Boy” took off on an oratory  of both Chinese Astrology, the Zodiac,  then finished up with a Miles Davis primer.  That old friend I admire. He ain’t letting go of his Venice Beach.  Much respect for him! 


Ed Simmons: Self Portrait. Copyright 2018

About The Author: Ed Simmons is a documentary photographer and assistant to Tony Ward, based in Los Angeles, California. To access additional articles by Ed Simmons, click here

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Perfect Holiday Gifts: Fashion Fetish 25 Years. Available in Store!


Fashion Fetish 25 Years



FASHION FETISH 25 YEARS now available in Store


With introduction by A.H. Scott. Copyright 2018


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Katie Kerl: Family, Till Death Do We Part?




Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2018


Slideshow: Kerl Family Archives, Copyright 2018




A statement usually made at weddings. In this circumstance I am talking about when family members get sick, or pass away. Nothing breaks up a functional family like death, inheritance money, and assets. I come from a very large family. My dad is one of 9 children, and my mother is one of 5 children. I could not have asked for better family as a child on either side. Everyone supported each other, huge holiday parties, happy hours, and summers on the River.

  When my grandparents died on both sides the family dynamic changed drastically. All of the sudden everyone was arguing over possessions. A grieving family left behind is a dangerous thing if nothing is sorted out before the death occurs. A sibling who feels slighted in a grieving state only becomes resentful, and is almost impossible to console. A decade later some of the family is still divided. I hope one day they can drop the superficial issues they have with each other. You never know when someone walks out the door if that’s the last time you will see them. 

In a totally different situation, I had back to back years of my parents getting sick and almost dying. The experiences were like night and day. Having gone through it to a certain degree, I get it. I sat in the hospital numb, with my mom and her newly diagnosed autoimmune disease crippling her muscles. Polymyositis is a muscle disease that involves inflammation of the muscles or associated tissues, such as the blood vessels that supply the muscles. A myopathy is a muscle disease, and inflammation is response to cell damage. My mother went from being healthy to lying in a hospital bed not being able to lift her head or swallow.   Her best friends were amazing. I would not have survived that time if not for them. My mother’s other two brothers and their wives were also a great help to her, along with everyone who contributed to her new home.

I have my own built up anger towards superficial cousins from that side of the family. They wouldn’t come see my mother in the hospital, help move her from her place, visit the assisted living home she was in, or help move her into her new place. Yet, I was receiving invitations to wedding showers, weddings, and holidays. To me there was nothing to celebrate. When their only excuse for not seeing their aunt was, “we were living our lives”. My response to their most genuine invite was, “excuse me while I get to live mine again”. I did not want to take part in celebrating their lives when my mother almost lost hers. She is in remission, working, and will be on disability for the rest of her life.

On the other hand, I have my father who I am the spitting image of. He had been sick with cancer for quite some time. Last winter it took a turn and I almost lost him in the emergency room. This was a totally different experience despite having to work through it. When I could not be there I received text and call updates from every friend and family member that stopped to see him. His hospital room was like a party at one point. That is how I imagined support to be going through something like that. It only confirmed that I should feel that way about the previous experience. My cousin Mike takes time out of his work day to go to doctor appointments I cannot take off for, being an only child that means the world to me. We are very lucky to have him and everyone else that has been there for us through this time.

My mother and I are very different personality wise. She is a saint, and way better human inside then I can strive to be. She taught me to be resilient; to get up when life throws you down and become a better person. She didn’t let me give up on myself when I was recovering from my car accident, and always reminds me it is the little things in life that truly matter. She deserved that same level of support that my father had in the hospital. If I have learned anything from both situations; it is to pick and choose my battles and be happy in the moment.

I also believe in choosing your family. After experiences like these I quickly found out who would be there for me when it counted.  Even if I don’t get to see them all the time, I have some very irreplaceable friends that I consider family. My boyfriend Oliver also refused to give up on me through all of this. I was pushing him away unintentionally with my emotional highs and lows, I did not want to put all of that on him. I was used to dealing with it on my own, that I knew how to do. Letting him in took some time to break down the giant wall I had built up. He took me to the hospital after his 12 hour days, sat with me, wiped every tear from my face, and made me laugh when I thought I forgot how to.

As the holiday season approaches, before you start arguing over who will be hosting what party, and making what dishes. Ask yourself, “Is this worth the argument”? Ask your single family members “are you happy”? Not “when you are going to have a family”? Take photos with your parents. Ask them if they need help, as we age if you are tired your parents are exhausted. Keep the traditions your grandparents started, bake cookies, and decorate. Be there for your friends who may not have family here. I am very fortunate to celebrate another holiday season with my parents. I am going to remind both how far they have come, and how truly grateful I am to have such strong resilient parents. Happy Holidays!


About The Author

Katie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. 
Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology .
Occupation : commercial/ residential  design 
Philadelphia resident since 2011 . 
Hobbies include  : Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos , & house music lover . 
Instagram:  @beatz_eatz_n_freaks 
To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:
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