Category Archives: Documentary

Bob Shell: Old Age and Taxes

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

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 Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #25

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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OLD AGE AND TAXES

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Taxes: we all hate ’em, but we all pay ’em. Right? I’ve recently read an article about Sweden, where they’re getting rid of property taxes. They’ve reasoned that as long as the state can force you to pay property taxes, and take your property if you don’t pay them, no one can really own property. I’ve always felt that way. Once I buy and pay for something, it should be mine, period! Well, now it’s darned nice to find a country’s government agreeing with me.

I’ve watched too many poor rural people forced to sell homes and farms that have been in families for generations because of “yuppification” of rural areas and great increases in property taxes. And cities and towns are the same. Taxes on the house I bought in the early 90s are now more than five times what they were when I bought the place. To me, that’s just unreasonable. Of course, as long as I’m in prison I pay no taxes on property, but when I get out I’ll get a whopping bill for back taxes! A bill I sure won’t be able to pay.

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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The state, by prosecuting me, destroyed my thriving photography and writing business. I lost my studio and other things too numerous to count. When I get out I’ll have no business, no income. Sure, I’ll get Social Security, but that won’t be much, since I’ve been removed from the workforce for ten years. I don’t know how I’ll live, much less pay taxes. I hate to play the age card, but I’m 71 now. Maybe after a certain age people should be exempt from paying taxes. Or at least old people who are forced to try to live on Social Security and other government benefits. Is that unreasonable?

Unfortunately, the article I read didn’t say how Sweden plans to make this work. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more details.

When you think about it, property taxes are a throwback to the old feudal system where the king or lord owned everything and the serf paid dearly for the right to scrabble a living from a little plot of land. So long as the local government can take your property for nonpayment of taxes, you don’t own that property, they do!

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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I saw a more honest version of all this when I was in Malaysia. I asked one of our hosts how expensive it would be to buy property there, because I’d noticed that a lot of British retirees lived there (it used to be a British colony). She looked at me like I’d asked an incredibly stupid question, and explained that it is impossible to buy land there, because all belongs to the King. When she saw my puzzlement, she explained that you get a 99 year lease from the government or buy out an existing lease. Sounded very strange until I thought about it and realized that their system really isn’t that different, just more honest.

I loved Malaysia, and had considered retiring there before my legal nightmare began. Unless things have changed a lot since I was there, you can live well very cheaply.

In fact, I’d looked into several countries for inexpensive retirement locations. I bought two books: Living Abroad in Belize and Living Abroad in Costa Rica, and studied both. Belize has the advantage of having English as its official language, and a very English culture (it, too, used to be a British colony, British Honduras). But Costa Rica is home to a large expat American population, so both have their appeals. It would seem that I could live comfortably in either on my Social Security and the occasional writing or photography gig. If I ever get out of here, I’ll look into these options more seriously.

But back to taxes. In the years when I was running a portrait and wedding studio combined with a camera shop I was forced to collect sales tax. I hated that, because I had no desire to be a tax collector and considered being forced to a violation of the constitutional protection against involuntary servitude. One year, sick and tired of doing the state’s work for them at far below minimum wage, I sent them a bill for my services as a tax collector. Man, that got them upset! They sent me threatening letters, one after another. I just ignored them, and in time they stopped bothering me.

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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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 herehttp://tonyward.com/bob-shell-car-reviews-in-a-photo-magazine/

 

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Health Care, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture

About: TonyWard.com

Self-Portrait With Katie. Copyright 2018

Self-Portrait With Katie. Copyright 2018

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Tony Ward Ward began his professional career in 1980 as a corporate photographer for the pharmaceutical giant, Smithkline Corporation. After several years of working in the department of corporate communications for Smithkline, he opened the Tony Ward Studio in 1984, to service a variety of Fortune 500 companies and smaller business entities.

In 1998, TW achieved global notoriety for his first published book on erotic photography, the controversial and highly praised OBSESSIONS. The monograph was followed by four more challenging, innovative and critically acclaimed volumes on eroticism and photography at the turn of the century. Scholars that specialize in the history and aesthetics of photography such as A.D. Coleman, Rick Wester and Reinhold Misselbeck have written illuminating essays that accompanied the artist published works.

Ward’s  photographs have been widely collected, exhibited and syndicated around the world. His unending quest for inspiring subjects, and new projects compels him to divide his creative time between diverse cosmopolitan centers, including: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, Hamburg/Berlin and his beloved Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Tony Ward has been teaching Photography courses at the University of Pennsylvania since the Fall of 2010, and has published the work of his students in the blog section. The daily blog features articles by Tony Ward and guest contributors who are invited to write on a variety of topics including; Art, Architecture, Photography, Fashion,  Erotica, Politics, Science, Travel and Current Events.

Tony Ward’s online Store is currently open. To access the Store, click herehttp://tonyward.com/shopping-cart/

Also posted in Announcements, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Erotica, Exhibitions, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Men, Popular Culture, UPenn

The Brandywine: 1997 – 1998

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Frolich Weymouth

 

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THE BRANDYWINE: 1997-1998
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In 1997, Tony Ward was assigned by Eliot Kaplan, then editor in chief of Philadelphia Magazine to create a series of photographs centered around the life and times of  George Alexis Weymouth, better known as Frolich Weymouth for a series of articles that were to be published between the years 1997 -1998 in Philadelphia’s regional publication. Mr. Weymouth was an American artist, whip or stager, philanthropist and conservationist who lived on a sprawling estate called Big Bend in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  Big Bend was just a short carriage ride to visit his long time friends; Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, who lived nearby on an equally impressive sprawling estate.  Mr. Weymouth grew accustomed to seeing Tony Ward at various events in the region, including the Devon Horse Show, Winterthur’s annual Point-to-Point steeplechase races and lavish private parties hosted by Mr. Weymouth at his historic homestead. The photographer was often invited by Mr. Weymouth himself to photograph and  mingle with many of his longtime friends. Jamie Wyeth’s wife Phyllis Wyeth also came to know of the photographers omnipresence in the region after she saw a portrait of her husband published in Philadelphia Magazine posing on a plastic horse with two female mannequins. 

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Jamie Wyeth

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On July 17, 1997 Phyllis Wyeth wrote the photographer a letter:

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Dear Tony,

Congratulations on your “One Fine Frolic” article in the May issue of Philadelphia magazine. You truly captured the “bare essence” of Frolic’s May doing’s. But I’m not writing you merely to shower you with compliments: that would be far too easy.  I am also writing to request the return of a favor of sorts.

   Your photo of my husband Jamie (riding the plastic horse) is marvelous, and stated simply, I’d very much like to have two 8 x 10 prints of it.  Not being the shy or retiring type, I’d be the first to remind you that it it weren’t for my picking you up along the road that day, you’d probably never have met Jamie, nor have had so juicy a story!  You might still be wandering around Chadds Ford, asking for directions!  Always keep in mind that it never r hurts to keep one’s contacts happy – with such an interesting cast of characters you just never know when a really special photo opportunity might crop up around here!

So I hope I haven’t made you feel TOO guilty (only enough to send me those copies of that photograph).  Hopefully another opportunity will soon arise for you to chronicle with your camera!

Sincerely,

Phyllis Wyeth

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Tony Ward at Big Bend. Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania

Tony Ward at Big Bend. Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania

To access additional pictures from this series, click here:http://tonyward.com/early-work/the-brandywine/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Diary, Environment, Glamour, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Early Work: The College Years 1974 – 1980

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Portrait of Yousuf Karsh by Tony Ward. Copyright 1978

 

 

Early Work: The College Years 1974 – 1980

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Like many photographers during the mid-1970’s Tony Ward embraced the documentary tradition early on in his career and was very influenced by the images he saw in Life Magazine and other leading periodicals including TIME. He began to sharpen his photographic skills by photographing  people on the streets of Philadelphia, his hometown as well as people he encountered during his early travels through Canada, including a sitting with the legendary photographer, Yousuf Karsh.  He photographed Karsh at the Chateau Laurier Hotel where his studio was located in Ottawa, Canada. Karsh had a major impact on Tony Ward’s approach to portraiture and was one of the most famous portrait photographers in the world until his death at the age of 94 in 2002.  Karsh sent a letter of gratitude after receiving a print from the sitting with the young photographer on July 12, 1978.

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Yousuf Karsh Letter 1978

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This gallery represents some of Tony Ward’s earliest photographs produced during- the college years – where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Millersville University, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (1974-1977).  After graduating from Millersville University he immediately applied and was accepted to Graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography (1978-1979). During his college years Tony Ward also began to experiment with color photography and alternative silver processes as he learned how to manipulate traditional gelatin silver prints into one of kind works of Art. 

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To see more pictures from the Early Work by Tony Ward, click herehttp://tonyward.com/early-work/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Diary, Environment, Film, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel

Bob Shell: The Weinstein Matter

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Images: Harvey Weinstein

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #23

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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THE WEINSTEIN MATTER

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Since the Harvey Weinstein matter surfaced in Hollywood, a number of people have asked me for my thoughts. I do have a somewhat unique perspective on the matter, being myself falsely accused of sexual offenses against my girlfriend and model, but not so accused by her. I won’t spend the time here telling my story. Anyone interested can read the whole story at: www.bobshelltruth.com, particularly the NEWS UPDATES page. Suffice it to say that I have never acted inappropriately with any model, and dozens of them will vouch for me on that. The police spent four years looking for a former model who would say anything bad about me and gave up. They had my records with model releases from everyone who modeled for me from 1969 until 2003! That’s 34 years and more than 200 models!

What amazed me when the Weinstein accusations came out was that anyone was surprised. This was Hollywood, after all, where the “casting couch” has been a ubiquitous feature since the early days. I’m only peripherally connected to the movie industry, but I’ve known about this for many years. After all, any industry that combines powerful Alpha Male type men with beautiful young women striving for their big break invites abuses. Now, as I read in the March issue of Vogue, the accusations have spread to the fashion photography world, with accusations by models against some of the top male photographers in the business. And according to the latest issue of PDN, the accusations have spread to instructors at prominent photo workshops. You get the impression that every man in a position of authority has misused that authority.

What has been lost in the current hysteria is the old American maxim of “innocent until proven guilty.”. Right now the field is wide open for people to settle old grudges that may have nothing to do with sex by making accusations of sexual misconduct. People are losing their jobs and careers over accusations that may never be proven. That’s wrong.

I’m not defending the pervasive culture in Hollywood or the fashion business, or anywhere else. Much harm has been done to many people. I’ve known a number of models and actresses, some of whom were successful in the movie business. Some have told me horror stories, but others have had positive experiences. There are some bad people in Hollywood (and in the photography business, and everywhere else in life), but there are also some very fine people. Let’s not tar everyone with the same brush.

Most of us know the sad story of Tippi Hedrin, who starred in Hitchcock’s The Birds. Hitch ruined her career after that because she refused to go to bed with him. But many other actresses launched successful careers with the support of producers and directors who respected them and treated them with dignity. Should Hitchcock have been ostracized by the industry for his despicable behaviour? Probably, but that’s water under the bridge. We can’t fix the past, but we can clean things up today.

One of the rules I always taught my workshop students is: Do not touch the model. I’ve had many students come to a workshop thinking that you pose a model by grabbing her and positioning her like a department store mannequin, and I’ve quickly disabused them of that idea. Even when working with models I’ve known and photographed for years I always observed that rule. To convey a particular pose I wanted, I’d assume the pose myself. Then, after the model stopped laughing, she knew exactly what I wanted, often improving on it by making it her own. I also kept a clip book, and whenever I saw a pose I particularly liked in a magazine, I’d cut it out and add it to the book. Show and tell rather than “grab and twist.”

The Weinstein matter has been portrayed in a one-sided manner, I think. While some industry men have been vilified for taking advantage of vulnerable young women (and men), sometimes it’s the other way ’round. I’ve had more than one model bat her pretty eyes at me and purr, “I’ll do anything to get published,” or the variant, “I’ll do anything for money.” My reply was always the same, “If you’re a really good model, I’ll publish (or pay) you. Nothing more required.”. And I’ve launched more than a few careers when they were good. The photos were satisfaction enough for me. I valued my reputation too much to compromise it. Models have a grapevine, after all, and talk to each other. I took great satisfaction from the fact that after I was arrested and charged and the story broadcast all over the Internet, I still had no trouble getting models to work with me. If they were hesitant, I just gave new models the email addresses of several of the models I’d worked with for years and said, “Check me out.”. They did, and none refused to work with me. I was able to finish my bondage book (which required a great deal of trust by the model in my total professionalism) and other books, as well as photo magazine and website articles, with no problems, using a mix of old and new models. If I could be released tomorrow, I have no doubt I could go right back to my photography without any problems finding models.

But to backtrack for a minute, being a very good artist, no matter what the medium, doesn’t mean a person is a decent man or woman. Read biographies of great artists, and you’ll find that many of them were not nice people. Some were horrible people. Artistic talent does not restrict itself to nice people. That’s as true today as ever. Should we discount a person’s art because he or she is a nasty, rotten person? To consider Hitchcock again, should we ignore the greatness of many of his films because he was personally despicable? I don’t claim to have the answer to that question. We must be careful, as the old saying goes, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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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 herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/09/bob-shell-remembrances/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women