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Category Archives: Environment
Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018
BEACH REPORT: LAST DAYS OF SUMMER
Like most folks that visit the Jersey Shore during the summer months, I usually visit Margate City or other shore points between the Memorial and Labor Day weekends, when thousands of people from Philadelphia and the surrounding area flock to various New Jersey shore points to enjoy the sun and the surf. In recent years, there has been much concern about the New Jersey shoreline as it has taken a beating over the years because of the increase in violent tropical storms that continue to erode the beaches all along the New Jersey coastline. The Army Corps of Engineers were brought in to fix the beach erosion crisis that emerged after hurricane Katrina, but a small pocket of resistance to the corps efforts surfaced in the borough of Margate City, New Jersey. A group of wealthy property owners with multi million dollar investments on or close to the beach in Margate organized a legal effort to fight against an order by then Governor Chris Christie, to allow the corps to make improvements to the coastline by creating sand dunes to sure up eroded sections of the beach. After hearing the pros and cons surrounding the eventual decision that the dunes be installed, neighbors continued to be concerned about the aesthetic and practical changes to their beloved summer destinations.
My personal opinion is that the Army Corps of Engineers performed an incredible job by transforming and protecting the shoreline from the eventuality of even greater threats from future tropical storms and or hurricanes. There are thousands of beautiful newly planted dune brush growing steadily along the shoreline as far as the eye can see. Long blue mats run from the beach at entry points in Margate City near landmark Lucy the elephant where the dunes transformed the landscape. From that point forward beach goers are required to walk on the newly installed sand as they look for a place to to set up beach chairs and surf boards in preparation for a care free and relaxing summer afternoon. The great thing about the Jersey Shore during the period after Labor Day is hardly anyone is there. You almost feel as though you have the beach all to yourself. I imagine the dunes plantings will grow considerably taller and more lush by the Spring of next year.
About The Author: Tony Ward is a master photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Tony Ward, Click here: http://tonyward.com/2018/04/diary-a-fashion-shoot-at-the-jersey-shore/
Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #22
Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018
One of the cruelist things about being incarcerated is that friends and family die while you’re unable to see them. I’ve lost count of how many have gone in the last ten years.
Last October I was sitting at a table in the pod with three friends on a Saturday evening. We’d just fixed and eaten an elaborate meal, and were feeling well fed and relaxed, talking about things of interest. An announcement came over the PA system, “Shell, go to the sergeant’s office.”. Now, being called to the sergeant’s office is rarely good news, particularly on a weekend evening, so I went out there in an apprehensive state of mind. When I got there a young lieutenant and several officers were there. I asked what was up, and the lieutenant told me to sit down. He said that someone named Headie had called and asked them to let me know that my sister had died. I nearly passed out from the shock. (Headie is my nephew’s wife.)
My only sister, Karen, was six years younger than me. Since I was six she was always there for me, and since I’ve been locked up she had been writing to me at least once a month. She knew that I was incapable of doing the awful things I was accused of. I knew she had been diagnosed with cancer, and had surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments. Her last letter was from the beach and she was happy and in remission, so her sudden death was a complete shock. Now, I could have gone to her funeral, but in a prison jumpsuit, with handcuffs, leg shackles, and shock belt, with two armed guards. I thought I’d just be a distraction if I went like that, so I made the painful decision not to go. I was the only family member absent.
The DOC used to grant compassionate furloughs, but too many abused that privilege by not coming back, so they no longer do this. Once you’re inside, you stay inside. Hell, just to transport me from one prison to another they put more chains on me than an organ grinder’s monkey. Those escapes during transport that you see in movies are purely fairytales.
One of the most fiendish devices ever invented is “the box”, a device that fits over the chain connecting handcuffs. and attaches to a waist chain. Once it’s in place you have almost no mobility of your hands and arms. You might just be able to scratch your nose, maybe. When I got here to River North both my wrists were bloody from this contraption.
Unfortunately the men who wrote our Constitution prohibited “cruel and unusual punishment,” and our literal-minded Supreme Court has held that it’s OK for punishment to be cruel so long as it isn’t unusual. “The box” is definitely cruel, but since it’s used almost everywhere now it’s not unusual. If every state used iron maidens the Court would probably say that was OK! Sometimes courts are just plain silly.
But, back to my original topic. Last night I received the June issue of Shutterbug and turned to Dan Havlik’s Editor’s Notes. I learned there of the death in March of Chuck Wesrfall, one of my oldest and best friends in the photo industry. Chuck was a genius, the top technical expert at Canon USA. When I needed an expert in digital imaging to testify at my trial, Chuck came down from New York and gave detailed technical testimony for me at my trial. Unfortunately his testimony sailed right over the heads of the jurors, the judge, and over the head of the reporter from the Roanoke Times, which published a totally garbled version of Chuck’s testimony the next morning. The issue was simple: could the police have accidentally or intentionally changed the time codes on my photographs? Chuck demonstrated how this could have happened accidentally and explained it in great detail. The newspaper reported that he’d said the times were correct, exactly the opposite of what he’d actually said! Even though the jury had been instructed not to read the newspapers or watch TV news, they were not sequestered and I know that some of them probably disregarded this instruction.
Anyway, I’d first met Chuck in the 80s when I was writing my first book, on the Canon EOS system. We “clicked” because we were both tech heads. Over the years I took advantage of every opportunity to spend time with Chuck because he knew how everything worked and could explain so even I could understand. Plus, he was just one of the nicest people you could ever meet, a true gentleman in the old meaning of the term. He had relatives in Roanoke, and would often pop up to Radford to spend a day with me when he was in the area, always bringing a satchel of Canon’s latest goodies to play with. We were friends, not just business friends. He told me how he met his wife on an airplane flight to Japan, and later proudly showed me pictures of their son as he grew up. Chuck will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Among other good friends who have died while I’ve been in prison are: Derek Grossmark, owner of Hove Foto Books, publisher of my first books; Henry Froehlich, Chairman of Mamiya America, and the first man to import Japanese cameras into the USA after WW II; Steve Sint, longtime Popular Photography columnist; Lino Manfrotto, maker of high quality tripods and other photo gear; Don Sutherland, writer for Shutterbug, Playboy, and many other magazines; Bill Hurter, Editor of Rangefinder, who gave me work when I lost my Shutterbug job; Hilary Araujo, long-time industry executive; and probably many more I don’t yet know about. News reaches me slowly in here.
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://tonyward.com/2018/08/bob-shell-we-all-steal-ideas/
Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018
FROM RICHES TO RAGS
A little over a decade ago in the Spring of 2007, I received a phone call from a journalist from Hamburg, Germany to discuss a photo assignment. He wanted me to illustrate a photo story he was working on for the German Press about Thomas Kramer, a property developer that ignited the real estate boom in Miami Beach during the 1990’s. I was immediately intrigued by the story and agreed to take the assignment. I met the journalist in Miami Beach, at a cozy boutique hotel located on Ocean Boulevard. At a meeting on the eve of the shoot the journalist provided more background about the reason for the story. I was told that Mr. Kramer had just been sued by one of the wealthiest families in Germany for fraud. The lavish lifestyle that I was about to witness may be short lived.
We arrived at the mansion on the magnificent Fisher Island at around 10:00am the next day to be greeted by a gregarious man who appeared to be happy to have our company as I photographed him around his lavish estate. Mr. Kramer mentioned the suit quite openly during our time together but evoked a certain confidence throughout the day that he would prevail. During our lunch break, he had several servants serve us a wonderful lunch with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables lean meat and fresh juices. There were a few ladies around as well since he was known for being an unapologetic playboy. After the first day of shooting he invited me to a Shaquille O’Neill party (his neighbor) who also resided on the tiny exclusive island.
One of the most memorable moments of the photo shoot with Thomas Kramer was when he invited me and my assistant to visit his master suite. I vividly recall seeing in his bathroom, a massive amount of fragrances of all the various designer brands that lined his vanity of excess. During the tour, in the same setting, was a security door where he placed his palm on what appeared to be a keypad. He said it was his safe room. The room was not that big like other rooms in the mansion, but it was lined floor to ceiling with a seemingly endless supply of various types of guns and other weaponry. Clearly the man was paranoid and for good reason.
It would take another 10 years, but on September 28, 2017; Thomas Kramer lost his battle in court and received a $192.4 million judgment against him. His greatest paranoia may have been realized. The plaintiffs in the case used that judgment against him to credit bid foreclosure and ultimately take title to his luxurious lifestyle and property. He seemed to have had fun while it lasted.
To access more Diary entries by Tony Ward, click here: http://tonyward.com/2018/04/diary-a-fashion-shoot-at-the-jersey-shore/
Article by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2018
Photography by Alex Meyer, Copyright 2018
Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be. Regardless of religious beliefs, the universe certainly seems to intervene at the most inconvenient times. Our initial reaction might not be easily controlled, but we most certainly have say in how we let change make us feel in the long run. Truly, no good can come from dwelling on “the way things used to be.” The only moment we should concern ourselves with is the present. The past cannot be changed and the future cannot be controlled.