Category Archives: Environment

Katie Kerl: Dream Changing

Dream Catching

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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DREAM CATCHING

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When you mention Robert Li’s name around Philadelphia there are very few people who have not come into contact with him. I’ve known Rob for the better part of a decade. have to say he’s one of the most positive friends I have. 

He’s always into something different and exciting. His calendar of events is a tuff one to keep up with. Rob has appeared on many local news stations showing off his unique hobbies

We met in 2011 through music and a love of costume parties. Anything silly that was an excuse to dress up and dance the night away just being yourself. 

We lost touch here and there through the years. I ran into Rob last fall walking down the street in Old City, Philadelphia. He let me know he was starting his own active wear line. Knowing Rob I was not surprised at all. He is a go getter; cheer coach, acro teacher, #ridetherob challenge, and is always at every major event the city has to offer. 

He had invited me to try acro a few times in the past. I declined many times being I have a full metal forearm. Rob always tried to get me to overcome that, but it was one heavy mental block at the time. 

When his line was sample ready; I stopped by to try some of it on. I have to say I do not spend $100 on leggings to work out at home EVER, but these were worth every penny.  I actually ended up buying two pairs!! You can wear them from fitness class long into the night being so versatile. One pair is a black V waist leather look, with ribbed accents going down the sides. They are perfect for giving you the illusion of a waist line. The second pair is reversible, black with a pretty white tree design, and red solid opposite side. They stayed in place perfectly. Not having to constantly pull them up with no hips was amazing. Also, no horrid camel toe like with cheaply made leggings!

After a try on session with a bit of acro on Rob’s roof top; he finally convinced me to come to an acro class! I was a bit nervous when arriving being it was an intermediate class, but everyone was super nice. I picked it up as well as a first timer could. It brought me back to my own cheerleading/ gymnastics days at 35. Another sentence I never thought I’d be typing this late in life. I will absolutely find the time to fit that into my schedule more now. Overcoming my horrible mental block was the best part of it all, and in my new Active Elixir leggings, thanks to Rob.

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Acro Yoga Class

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After checking this all out, I asked Rob to write his own piece because he seemed so happy with his career change. I want people to know about his line, everything he is into, inspirations, difficulties he has overcome, and where you can check him out through the week!

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Find Rob Dream Catching 

One Active Elixir Flyer at a time! 

Link to Rob Li’s article written exclusively for TWShttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/robert-li-acro-yoga/

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Katie Kerl wearing Robert Li’s acro leggings.

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-modern-mom/

 

 

Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Student Life

Bob Shell: America’s Puritanism

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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America’s Puritanism

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“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” — Benjamin Franklin

Franklin, along with the others who founded this country, was very smart. He realized that government, any government, would likely devolve into tyranny over time, and it was vitally important for the people to mount an armed opposition. Now don’t misunderstand me. “Armed” doesn’t necessarily mean armed with guns. It can mean armed with unfettered freedom of the press and expression. The pen was mightier than the sword — today the Internet may be mightier than the guns of the would be oppressors. That’s why I’m denied Internet access in prison. My ideas are dangerous to my oppressors.

Today, all of the laws of the Federal and state codes and courts would fill a large library. Law has become so complex that no one person can possibly be familiar with all of it, and it gets worse every time the legislatures meet, and the hundreds of courts hand down decisions. In the resulting quagmire, something that is perfectly legal in one state becomes a. crime, sometimes a serious crime, the instant you step across an invisible state border.

In the late 1960s, I lived in Washington, DC. I was in my early twenties and my girlfriend, who lived with me, was sixteen. That was perfectly legal in DC, where the age of consent was sixteen, but if we visited my friends in Virginia, we’d better not sleep together, because she was illegal in Virginia. We did anyway, but I could have been in serious trouble if the police found out and chose to enforce that particular silly law.

When I was going to Germany regularly, I did nude photo shoots with professional models, one of them a friend’s daughter, who were sixteen and seventeen. Those photographs are potentially illegal in the USA. If I’d gone over to the Czech Republic, the legal age was fifteen. These weren’t erotic images in my opinion, just artistic nudes shot outdoors in public parks, but as long as we have judges and juries that find any nude images at all intolerable, no one who photographs nudes is safe. Were these idiots born fully clothed?

After what happened to Jock Sturges and my friend Lee Higgs, both raided by the FBI, I was afraid to take the chance and bring my European nudes home, but it did me no good, because the judge and jury I went before found my perfectly legal images offensive.

BTW, neither Sturges nor Higgs was ever charged with anything, but homes were raided, wives and children terrorized, and confiscated photos and equipment returned damaged, or not returned at all.

Sturges had photographed young nudes in France, where no one cared. Higgs had proof all his models were legal, but that didn’t prevent the raid. His cool book Generation Fetish is a classic, but 100% legal.

If nothing is done about silly laws and our crazy “justice system” soon the volume of laws will be so great that almost anything you do will violate at least one.

Just like those who can justify anything with a quote from the Bible, you can find good, valid law to support just about any premise.

Worst are what I call anti-pleasure laws, laws against having fun.

The Honorable Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, recently said:

“We need to accept that behaviors and actions of others that are not aligned with our own mental perspectives do not need to be turned into criminal offences.”

What a perceptive and succinct statement of the problem. Our society has become more and more intolerant of those who choose to be different, and I’m in prison solely because of that intolerance.

Unfortunately, those men who wrote our Constitution and Bill of Rights did not spell out a right to privacy, a right to be left alone. The U. S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, in 2007, said that any private sexual activity between consenting adults was none of the government’s damned business, and struck down the Texas law against “sodomy,” taking with it similar laws in a number of other states.

OK, let’s analyze that a bit. If I decide I’m horny and in need of some company, and call an escort service, and a young woman (or man, depending on my sex and orientation) comes to my residence or hotel room and we have sex, so long as we’re both consenting adults, there’s no crime, right? Nope, they can still bust us. “But the Supreme Court said it was OK,” we argue. “Yes,” they answer, “but you can’t charge for or pay for it.” Where’s that in the Court’s ruling? Read Lawrence v. Texas, and you won’t see that anywhere. I have a copy of the case right here, and it quite plainly does not say that.

The problem is that local police, prosecutors, and judges have a habit of ignoring court rulings they don’t like. After Lawrence, prostitution should have been legal throughout the USA, and not just in a few places in Nevada.

My friends and I, so long as we’re all consenting adults, should be able to hold S & M orgies in private without the fear of some idiot puritans busting us because they’re terrified that someone somewhere might be having sex for reasons other than procreation. Someone might be having too much fun. In his dissent in the Lawrence case, Justice Scalia worried that the ruling might legalize drug use in private by consenting adults. So fucking what if it did? So long as no one is forced to participate, and no children are involved, why should it be anybody else’s business?

And, with young people maturing much earlier, we need to revise our definition of “child.” I’ve known thirteen year olds who were already sexually active with partners their own age, and whose parents got them birth control pills. Those were children?

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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 here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-the-loss-of-a-fine-photographer/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, commentary, Current Events, lifestyle, Models, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Robert Li: Acro Yoga

 

Text by Robert Li, Copyright 2019

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Acro Yoga

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Ikigai. Have you heard the term before? It’s a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Essentially, it’s a reason to get up in the morning. There is a sense of purpose and a reason to enjoy life.  If you take four elements – That which you love, That which you are good at, That which you can be paid for, and That which the world needs – and put them in a Venn diagram, your Ikigai is the intersection of all four. Someone told me that I found my Ikigai in Acro, and I believe she was right.

I came to the US from Taiwan when I was 11 months old and grew up in Huntingdon Valley before attending Drexel University, though I studied abroad in Berlin while working for the German government. I majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in Chinese and German, and minored in Business Administration and History.

After college, I was a professional party promoter and professional cheerleader for the Philadelphia Soul as well as the Philadelphia 76ers while becoming familiar with the point of sale industry. The combination of food and tech seemed like a perfect place.  Food has always been a passion of mine, so it was great to work with staff, managers, and owners all across the country.  Still, I was either working or on call from 10am to 3am every weekday and on call every other weekend.  There were a lot of perks, including working from home and free food when clients insisted I eat, but I felt like a slave to my phone because I had to answer at all hours, no matter what.  When I discovered Acro, something clicked. I wanted to do it all the time.  I realized that the other aspects of Acro align with what I enjoy in life as well: travel, meeting amazing people, and potential for beautiful photography.  At first, Acro was a hobby, but by the time my thoughts, actions, and even dreams involved Acro, I knew a life-changing decision was coming.

With the #ridetherob project, the timing was right. When I started Acro four years ago, I didn’t know what to wear. I figured others must have the same problem. Why not create something that could fill a need? The concept of creating a clothing line became more than a fleeting thought. As my passion for Acro grew into a full blown love affair, I knew I had to take actions instead of just thinking about it. My heart and mind shifted focus from my job to the possibilities of what I could do with Acro. The #ridetherob project was building a lot of momentum, and studios started approaching me to teach. With so many amazing opportunities knocking at my door, I needed to answer the call and see what adventures await. Here was a big step towards the unknown, comforted by the thought that I have a whole community of amazing people supporting me in this adventure.

I wanted to create quality apparel for active lifestyles, and I had no idea where to begin. The first step was to make my intentions known and to make the time for this endeavor. Leaving a stable job with steady income was necessary to see this through. I was a motivated and knowledge-thirsty sponge, soaking in every piece of information and detail. Then I started making moves and developing my brand and products. Active Elixir was born (www.active-elixir.com). It’s the “perfect solution for people of movement.” I would address issues people have with apparel in various movements and provide solutions for them. My focus would be on all the various niche markets, starting with which I was familiar – Acro. Now I am developing Pole Wear, Swimwear, and in the next year, Belly Dance Wear and Social Dance Wear. Items are designed with ideas I’ve had, recommendations from friends, or random inspirations, and once they were realized, I test the prototypes on people who are actively involved in the practice. I listen to what they want, gathered feedback on the piece, made changes, and try again until it’s perfect — functional, comfortable, well-made, and stylish. I offer a direct line to someone who can make the changes you’ve always wanted to see in apparel, especially for your practice. I just hope that when all is said and done, I don’t end up with an absurd amount of women’s clothing in my apartment; I want to give them happy homes. In the near future, I’m looking towards fashion shows and collaborating with yoga studios.

My other pet project is #Ridetherob.  Funny enough, the idea for it came in the shower.  I recently got into Acro, and I wanted to show people how much fun it can be. I didn’t know this little project would evolve into something more and inspire others to create challenges and personal goals beyond expectations. At first, it was to show the world what Acro was, and then it was to make people feel good and happy while creating a deeper connection between human beings. At least, that’s what I observed the first couple of years. Now I realize it shows that people can learn and do things they thought was impossible. I’m also working on adding a philanthropic element to this project as I collaborate with various charities and other events.  My current count is 5,323 people I’ve lifted up on my Journey to 10,000.  The heaviest person I lifted while on the ground was my former rugby teammate who is 360 lbs. The heaviest individual I lifted standing was 250 pounds and almost 7 ft tall. I’ve also lifted a family of 6 at the same time and did a Triple Cupie with 3 flyers standing on my hands.

The Philly Mag article was great.(https://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2018/02/13/rob-li-lift-acro/) It was the first published article about the project. Being on Good Day Philadelphia and lifting the anchors as well as just about everyone in the Fox 29 office was also a lot of fun.  When CBS3 asked me to come in, I lifted anyone that wanted to be part of the project, and it seemed to make everyone’s days seeing how happy they were. (https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/video/4121404-local-acro-yoga-instructor-on-mission-to-lift-as-many-people-as-possible-to-spread-teaching/?fbclid=IwAR0sqCjL4QA5dneLLk4BaJO3qCCljjCwiYJeDAIBUSQOpWp0yTsD-1W57x4)

Growing up, I was quite chunky. I would eat everything in sight. Then I got into sports one summer. I lost about 20 pounds unintentionally and just have been active ever since. I played football, wrestled, ran track, fenced, did cheer, and played rugby.  I coached Temple Co-Ed Cheer because the head coach wanted to bring back a co-ed stunt team and asked me to help out. It’s amazing seeing the cheerleaders progress in their skills season to season.   

I am so thankful that I did cheer. I did not know that people tossing would be such a valuable life skill to have. Having a strong foundation in the fundamentals of standing Acro has helped me achieve a variety of skills. It also led me to teaching Acro. One of the people I lifted had her own yoga studio, and she insisted I teach an Acro workshop. I told her I wasn’t certified and have just been doing Acro for a couple of years, but she told me that the way I instructed her into her pose was evidence enough that I would be good at teaching. I taught my first class and really enjoyed it. Having about 20 years of cheer experience also helps out. Because of this foundation, I was able to learn skills in 20 minutes that people work on for a year or more.

Even though I have a strong personal practice, teaching people who are trying Acro for the first time has been really rewarding. Sometimes I find myself in random situations– I’ve been invited to a number of Bachelorette parties, and I would come in and lift everyone. One of my personal goals was to hit a Rewind, which is a dynamic cheer stunt in which the flyer essentially does a back tuck while the base tosses her in the air and then catches her feet as she comes out of the tuck. I was so thrilled that I even did a Happy Dance while holding the flyer in the skill. Unlocking new skills is such an amazing feeling, especially when you work for it. Some other stories include me lifting a flight attendant while 34,000 feet in the air. I’ve done Acro on top of bars at clubs and lounges. In the kitchen or counters of restaurants. At a few gentlemen’s clubs. On stage at a gentlemen’s club. On boats and yachts. On paddle boards. At hospitals. In offices. Every day is an adventure, and I’ll do Acro wherever. The pose depends on who is flying and what feels safe and what I call concrete-ready. 

Acro has even led me to perform and compete in one of the country’s largest competitions of this kind. When I went to see Diamond G a few years ago to support my friend, I saw some Acro in one of the performances. My thought process quickly went from I can do that, to I should do that, to I will do that. For a whole year, I was thinking about who should be on the team and what I should do. I recruited very talented acrobats, aerialists, pole dancers, and exotic dancers to compete for the coveted Diamond G-String title and $15,000. Despite being new to this, we came home with the title and prize money, and I met some amazing people in the process and have the utmost respect for anyone that puts on a show of this magnitude. 

It was a challenging and exciting endeavor, much like starting an apparel company, and I’m learning more about the industry each day. Almost every night before bed and every morning when I wake up, I am talking to my contacts in Asia. There has been no shortage of delays or mistakes that needed to be addressed in a timely manner. My search for reliable manufacturers that can take my ideas and create quality products has led me down some interesting roads. For those who might be thinking about embarking on a similar project, do your research. Be prepared for a lot of things to go the way you don’t expect them to go, and learn how to overcome those challenges.  Learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to future situations. Take lots of notes. Make sure you have money put aside because you will be spending more than you think. Believe in yourself. Take calculated risks and put yourself out there. Be kind to everyone. You never know who you’re going to meet who can help you in some way.

It also helps to listen, and I mean really listen to what women (and male consumers too!) have to say.  I’ve learned so much about bras and boobs. It’s still very confusing though. There are many body types and preferences to consider. I’ve learned about various tests women try when deciding which pieces of apparel they purchase—squats, jumps, and inversions. Learning from women firsthand means that I can develop clothing that fits their needs directly. I’m also studying shopping habits and learning about marketing through social media. This is a lot for someone who basically posts twice a month on Instagram. Yes, I’m working on that.

The support from my friends and various Acro communities has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the amazing people that have helped me and believed in me in realizing my vision. It’s heart-warming to see how happy people are with my products. They tell me stories about how great they feel and the amount of compliments they’ve received from wearing my clothing line. It’s really rewarding to hear that after putting so much time, energy, and money into such a huge endeavor.  It can definitely be difficult at times, but it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

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About The Author: Robert Li grew up in Huntingdon Valley, PA and resides in Philadelphia. He majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in German and Chinese and Minors in Business Administration and History at Drexel University. He is the Founder of Active Elixir, a clothing brand focused on creating solutions for people of movement through apparel. With his experience as a cheerleader for Drexel University, the Philadelphia Soul, and the Philadelphia 76ers as well as Cheer Coach for Temple University, he is also an AcroYoga instructor teaching at various studios in Philadelphia and Acro festivals across the country.

www.active-elixir.com

If you want to get in touch with Rob, you can find him on Instagram – @themojoshow and @activeelixir or email him: activeelixir@gmail.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, Men, News, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Sports, Video

Bob Shell: Learning Photography

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 1977

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Learning Photography

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Many aspiring photographers want to learn more about the art and craft of photography. There are lots of ways to do this, ranging from reading books, watching videos, taking classes, attending lectures, and attending photography workshops.

If you’re the type who learns by reading, there are many excellent books available that will teach you all the basics. When I was getting started I bought every photography how-to book I could afford and devoured them. I think I learned something from every one of them. For those just getting started in digital photography I’ll recommend the book I wrote with Steven Greenberg; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Digital Photography Like a Pro (4th edition). It’s a little bit dated by now, but is still one of the best books for beginners. My favorite photography book of all time is Nude Photography The French Way by Laurent Biancani. It’s probably out of print, but I’m sure Amazon can find copies. It’s great, not so much for photographing nudes, but because it contains the best primar I’ve ever seen on photographic lighting. I learned a hell of a lot about lighting from that book. There was also a very good book on lighting by my friend David B. Brooks. Beyond those basics, there are many good books. The photographic lighting series of books from Rotovision are all good. They use a simple formula, a photo on one page and a lighting diagram and brief text on the facing page. The National Geographic photo guides are excellent, well written and illustrated with great photos.

It used to be that you could learn a lot about photography by reading the many photography magazines, but these days they’re pretty much extinct. The only two I read anymore are Rangefinder (rangefinderonline.com) and Photo District News (pdnonline.com). Rangefinder is directed primarily at portrait and wedding photographers (I used to write for them) and PDN is directed at high-end commercial shooters and photojournalists. My other favorite photo magazines are Vogue, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone, for the exclence of their photography.

I used to have instructional videos sent to me for review all the time when I was at Shutterbug. They ranged from exceptionally good to garbage. There was one set from a really well known portrait photographer on lighting that was completely wrong! Light is basic to photography (the word photography means writing with light), and behaves very predictably. Some of the best produced videos are those from my friend Ken Marcus. I really enjoyed watching them. Ken is a master of using multiple lights for glamour and nudes. I haven’t seen them, but I’m told there are some good instructional videos on Youtube.

If you’re the type who learns best in a classroom setting, then check out adult education photography classes. Local community colleges often conduct photography classes that don’t cost very much to take. Here in my area I used to teach an adult ed photography class through Virginia Tech and the local YMCA. We met once a week in the evenings for a couple of hours for classroom lectures, at my studio for demos, and also did some “field trips.”. Everyone who took those classes seemed to enjoy and learn from them. They didn’t cost much, and the money went to support programs at the Y.

Another possible source of learning is photography schools. The Washington School of Photography in DC offered some excellent programs. I conducted lecture/demonstrations for tbem. These were done in hotel ballrooms, and consisted of a lecture portion illustrated with medium format slides projected on a big screen, followed by a live lighting and posing demo with nude models. These were fun to conduct and I think the audience learned. My sponsor for those was Mamiya America Corp. who provided the special projectors for my 6 X 6 and 6 X 7 slides. Medium format slides are eye-popping on a big cinema screen.

Once a year in October the Photo Plus Expo is held in NYC. It can be a great learning experience, with lectures, photo shoots, portfolio reviews, and a big trade show where you can see and touch all the latest new gear. Info at photoplusexpo.com . They’re affiliated with WPPI, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, but you don’t have to be a member to attend. I’ve given lectures there.

Of course, the best way to learn is by doing. That’s where the hands-on workshops come in. What exactly are these workshops? It depends; depends on who is conducting them. Some have a lot of classroom instruction as well as actual photography on location. The best of these that I’m aware of were those conducted by the Disney Institute at Walt Disney World in Orlando. I don’t know if they still have their photography workshops. You’ll have to check on their website. When I was there the program was a mix of traditional classroom and photo shoots at Epcot, Animal Kingdom and a Disney wildlife preserve. The photo sessions at the theme parks were conducted in the mornings before the parks opened. Walking around Epcot taking pictures with no one around except a few maintenance workers was a once in a lifetime experience. I got some great photos and I’m sure the students did as well. That year Pete Turner was one of the lecturers. If you do a Google search on photography workshops, you’re sure to find a bunch in various places on a variety of topics.

I used to conduct two-day glamour and nude workshops several times a year. Some were held in my large studio in Radford. Others in my nearby forest land. And still others at St. Petersburg Beach in Florida, the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, in London, and other locations here and abroad. I’ve had as many as 60 students attend these from as far away as Hong Kong and Japan, with a ratio of one model for every five photographers, so everyone got plenty of opportunity to work with each model.

I also conducted one and two day one-on-one workshops in my studio. These were one student, one or more models depending on the student’s desires and budget, and me. These were intense photo shoots, real learning experiences in lighting and posing plus the technical aspects of studio shoots. I charged for my time plus the model’s fee and two hour film processing. After digital came along, most of my students were shooting digital, so no film processing fees. They just had to remember to bring enough storage cards, since we tended to work fast and shoot a lot of photos. I had several repeat customers who came over and over for these.

I conducted my first photo workshops in the 80s, initially with Tampa Bay photographer Wayne Collins to get my feet wet and learn the ropes, and before I had my big studio I rented a ballroom in town so I could have multiple sets active at the same time. Those were a lot of work because I had to haul all of my equipment and props there from storage and back again afterwards. I was really happy when I found the big studio space, since I could leave everything there and ready to go. I usually had a couple assistants for the group workshops, one of them, Herb, a very big man, former football player, who acted as my “enforcer” when very occasionally one of the workshop participants got out of line with a model, either verbally or with straying hands. Believe me, no one did it twice! Herb wouldn’t have hurt a fly, but his 400 pound size was intimidation enough. Thankfully he wasn’t needed often, and he was a photographer as well, so he got to take pictures for himself.

Before each workshop I sent each person who had signed up a sheet with the workshop rules. These were pretty simple: don’t touch the models, no alcohol during the workshop, no off color jokes, know how to operate your camera beforehand. I wanted to keep the tone professional and respectful. While most workshop students were men, I did get some female participants. I never had any serious problems at a workshop, although one model did get sick one time and spent a good part of a day in the dressing room throwing up in a bucket! For my outdoor workshops I had a portable dressing room I designed that Lastolite made for me. We were going to sell them, but the price turned out to be too high when you could just buy a cheap tent and accomplish the same thing. I kept the two prototypes for use at my workshops. Even when a woman is modeling nude, she needs privacy to get ready. I always provided a catered lunch at my workshops, and the lunch break was time to ask questions and discuss photography. I wanted everyone to have a good time, learn things, and come away with some great photos. I never had a dissatisfied attendee.

One special treat that set my workshops apart from others was a prize giveaway at the end. My photo industry sponsors contributed items to be given away, ranging from camera bags, tripods, flash units, lenses, to gift certificates. Each workshop attendee wrote their name on an envelope and put a tip for the models in it. The envelopes were put into a box and as each prize was shown one of the models pulled out an envelope and that attendee got the prize. The money was divided evenly among the models. Everyone loved this, and everyone got a nice prize worth much more than the money they’d tipped. Sponsors were glad to do it for the good will it generated. I had many different sponsors over the years, including Canon, Mamiya, Vivitar, Adorama, Beseler (camera bags), Fuji, Tiffen, Kodak, Photoflex, Plume, Chimera, Paul C. Buff, Sekonic, 3M, and others. Canon used to bring loaner cameras and most of their lenses for attendees to try out. Tiffen sent a bunch of filters in 72mm size with stepping rings to fit them to most lenses. Kodak, 3M and Fuji sent free film. Adorama sent a variety of photo gadgets.

I wanted my workshops to be fun, as well as learning experiences.

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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 here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Film, Friends of TWS, History, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn Photography

A.H. Scott: Unraveled, We Fall

Illustration by Thomcat 23, Copyright 2019

 

 

Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2019

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Unraveled, We Fall

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I have to say this and am going to be unapologetic when doing this; but, every time there are horrific events such as those that have recently occurred, public voices ALWAYS speak about having some kind of budgetary fix for the problem to deal with MENTAL health. And, that is wonderful and fine to hear. But, maybe just maybe, instead of chalking it up to being a problem of a mental health breakdown as being the reason behind why these things keep happening to describing the root of the situation as a singular word.

Some people ain’t ‘crazy’ or ‘sick’ which I am not even diminishing a person who may have psychological problems on using such colloquial terms. I am using it because it is used casually by many of us. I mean no offense to anyone who is reading this. I just needed to find ‘umbrella terms’ to make my point.

At this time, I don’t want to even go down that road of words like psychopath, sociopath, or any other kind of pathology that is rendered from the scads of mental health professionals doing their varied levels of analysis.

Or, it could be the word HATE, which seems to be a considered probability of how some people in this country treats one another. Dismissive interactions and cruelest of words targeted at our fellow Americans exude a staleness of the soul. But, that isn’t the word I am thinking about at this time.

And no that word is not GUNS, although it should be and would be quite fitting to place into the mix.

Guns and their cultural existence is an ongoing debate and debacle in the United States, which turns to be a vipers’ nest that is really in the background of my mind right at this moment.

So, if it isn’t mental health, hate, or guns, what could it possibly be? Hmm, I think I know what fits the bill.

The word I am looking for is one as old as time and maybe it is just seen as controversial.

The word is EVIL. And, yeah, of course it is a hard word to say and use. But, I know I am not the only person that might be thinking of that same word.

I believe there is evil in this world. And, damnit, some people are just EVIL!

There are not in need of being held by the hand in some way shielded from a legal anvil or public damnation by being labeled or mentioned in ‘understanding’ tones of why did what they did.

Or, their frustration with a current issue or some slight they think they’ve been diminished by with the changing demographics in this society. 

Fuck their motivations!

They are just EVIL.

Using that single word just obliterates philosophical puffery and drills directly into the core of what emanates within the barren heart of some people.

No multi-leveled explanation needed or given beyond that word.

I know that’s hard and seemingly cold-blooded to say. But, from many of the mass shootings covered wall to wall by the media, there seems to be a certain type of playbook that unfolds. I call them the 7 Tiers of Tears:

Overly-dramatic music and flashing banner comes across the screen is first.

Breaking news alert and the breathless news anchor speaking is second.

Outline of the event is reported live by a correspondent is third.

On the spot interviews with the wounded, eyewitnesses, and law enforcement is fourth.

Manifesto online or social media rants of the shooter being uncovered is fifth.

Analysis by experts on-air of the shooter’s mental state is sixth.

Elected officials, both in person and on Twitter send along their ‘heartfelt’ support is seventh.

And then from there, the nation’s mourning (once again) begins.

Then, as then and as now (and sure as tomorrow comes after today) – nothing happens.

Wringing our hands and making proclamations of how we are going to make sure this never happens again is just for lack of better words, a verbal circle-jerk to mollify the public to make it seem as if something can be done.

Now, the cynic in me might just say it’s only my imagination in thinking if the shooter were not a white male, but a darker hued, male of Muslim faith who is the shooter in all of these mass shootings around the United States of America; that level of yearning to bridge a bullet-blitz to a mental health problem would never exist. But, then again, I’m not admitting my cynicism on this point. Just sayin’.

Now, for those of us who are rah-rah for getting tougher gun control laws, I am with you on getting something done in that vein. But, it is not the panacea of solving the level of perniciousness within the hearts and souls of some people in this country. 

In this country, we are awash in over 280 million guns; so, even with the most stringent gun control laws, our ability to stay afloat without drowning in tears and fears might be an impossible feat.

Temples, churches, synagogues, movie theaters, malls, bars, community centers, schools, nightclubs; these places of comfort have become no more in the United States of America.

New and tougher gun control laws will only tissue paper over the problem that’s going on, because the people that want to do EVIL will always find a way to do EVIL. Yeah, fuck it; I’m gonna hit that nail again and again of what this situation in this country is – EVIL!!

Evil sits back and snickers when it is mistaken for a problem of mental health.

Evil just is there …..and waits …..for the next mass shooting.

We are America, but are we United States?

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-the-one/
 
 
 
 
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