Category Archives: Film

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, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture

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, Documentary, Environment, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel

Bob Shell: We All Steal Ideas

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Photography by Bob Shell. Copyright 2018

 

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #21

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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WE ALL STEAL IDEAS

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I’ve talked about Richard Lovelace and his famous Althea poem. There’s another poem from the same era that you have probably heard without realizing it. It begins:

Once there was a way to get back homeward,

Once there was a way to get back home,

Sleep, pretty wanton, do not cry,

And I will sing a lullaby,

Golden slumbers fill your eyes,

Smiles await you when you rise,

Sleep, pretty wanton, do not cry,

And so on. Paul McCartney took credit for a slight variation on that verse, would have been nice if he’d acknowledged his source. Sadly, I can’t now remember the name of the original poet. Anyone know? The song McCartney wrote from that poem has an interesting story as well. One of the original groups signed to Apple Records when The Beatles started that label was a group originally called Poor White Trash, but later shortened to just Trash. They were signed around the same time as The Iveys, whose name was also changed. They became Badfinger, and went on to some fame. Anyway, the song Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight was written for Trash, who recorded the original version. Later, McCartney replaced the vocal track with his own and released it as a Beatles song. Don’t believe me? Listen to Trash’s version and then McCartney’s version. Save the vocals, they’re identical!

The music industry being what it is, I’m sure there are many other thefts from poets. And, after all, if the poet is long since dead, who’s to care? Probably nobody except people with OCD about such things, like me.

I’m reminded of an interview I once read of the great surrealist Salvador Dali. The interviewer asked Dali about his “borrowing” from other past artists. Dali bristled, his mustache quivering, he indignantly replied, “The divine Dali does not borrow; He steals!”. Yes.

If we’re honest as artists, whether with pen, brush, or camera, we all steal ideas. After all, there is always much to be learned from the masters. When I could find time in my travels, I always visited art museums. The paintings of the old masters can teach you all you need to know about light and shadow, and composition. After all, there are only so many ways you can pose a human body and have it look natural.

My own personal favorite artists are those of the Viennese school of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Particularly Klimt and his disciple Egon Schiele. There are some excellent videos on Klimt in the Khan Academy. The Khan videos we get here are very limited, so naturally we don’t get any on Schiele. I was lucky enough to see some of Schiele’s work in a small museum in Linz, Austria. I was there as one of the judges of an international photography competition and after a morning spent looking at hundreds of photographs, I needed a break to unwind, so I was just walking around the narrow streets of the old town. As I recall, there was a small castle on a hill that had been turned into a gallery. There among mostly mediocre old paintings was a Schiele, the first original of his I’d seen. It was wonderful. I’d bought a big book earlier that had all of his surviving works, but most were reproduced small. Here he was in full size. Many of Schiele’s works were destroyed by the authorities when he was imprisoned for making “improper drawings.”. Prudery is not confined to the USA. Today those surviving “improper drawings”are considered national treasures. Schiele did not produce a great body of work because he died young, victim of the 1918 influenza plague that killed so many in Europe. Funny, but I identified with him and his work long before my own legal troubles, which are mostly because I was making “improper photographs.”. At least that’s what the judge thought. He called my photographs “the worst pornography I’ve ever seen.”. Obviously he’s not a web surfer. In fact, he said all he knew about computers was how to turn his on! Here was a complex case about digital images, among other things, and the judge and most of the jurors were computer illiterate. Jury of my peers, baloney!!

But that’s not the topic of this post, so forgive the digression.

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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/2018/08/5866/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, Models, Music, Nudes, Photography, Poetry, Popular Culture, Women

Bob Shell: Strange Signs

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Beware of Dog. Photo: Tony Ward, 1979

 

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #20

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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STRANGE SIGNS

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In my travels I always kept an eye open for interesting things to photograph. Sometimes it was people, sometimes animals, sometimes street scenes, and so on. One thing I saw almost everywhere was signs, sometimes official, more often hand printed. Among the official signs, one of my favorites is a bronze plaque set into a sidewalk in Germany. It reads something like:

On this spot on February 16, 1539,

Absolutely nothing happened.

I’m sure I got the date wrong, but you get the idea. That was either in Munich or Wetzlar.

One time in Germany, Peter Moore took s picture of me next to an arrow sign pointing at me, saying EIN FAHRT. Of course that means “ONE WAY,” as any German speaker knows!

A sign I saw in South Tyrol, the German-speaking part of northern Italy, was in multiple languages, but totally incompressible in any. I think it warned of flash floods, but that didn’t come from the text, but from the little man panicking in rushing water in the pictograph at the top of the sign.

Seen in the American Midwest on the side of a big white building:

CUSTOM KILLING

Makes you want to walk right in, eh?

On a large factory in Hong Kong:

HUNG FAT BRASSIERE COMPANY

And in a hotel in that same city, on a plaque on the inside of the room door a number of suggestions for hotel guests, including:

HOTEL GUESTS ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MAIDS

The intent comes through, but a native English speaker would have phrased it differently! You find lots of butchered English in the far east, one of the best sighted in a shop window:

ENGLISH WELL SPEACHED HERE

Yeah, sure it is.

In a Chinese restaurant window in, I think, Kuala Lumpur (which itself means “Muddy Junction”) was this:

BLOODY GOOD CHINESE FOOD AT FAIR DINKUM PRICES

That one got me to go inside. I don’t know if the prices were really “fair dinkum,” but the food was really good.

Closer to home, driving up Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley through picturesque little towns I spotted this one on the roadside:

BOX SPRING & MATTERS FUR SAIL

Gets the point across, I guess. Not far along the same road, this one:

BLAN KETS $ 4.00 PA URD

Took a while to figure out that this person was selling blankets for $ 4.00 per yard! They were actually very nice home made blankets at a reasonable price.

And on the side of a barn in New Bern, Virginia:

WE DONT RENT PIGS

I think they stole the idea for that one!

A friend recently sent me this one:

WELCOME

THIS IS GOD’S COUNTRY

PLEASE DON’T DRIVE LIKE HELL THROUGH IT

I like that one.

I have a large collection of photos of odd signs in my archive, some of which made money as stock images.

Which leads into another topic, stock photography. Unfortunately, the days when a photographer could earn a nice second income from stock photo sales are pretty much over. I used to get regular checks from the licensing of images I had with agencies. Then along came tbe Internet, and my stock payments lost two zeros on the amount payable line. People used to ask me what’s was the most I ever got paid for a single image. I’d smile and say 78,000. After the shock wore off, I’d clarify that it was Yen, not dollars. It was for the use of one of my images on the cover of the Japanese edition of a Danielle Steel romance novel. Actually, the Japanese editions of several of her books bear my photographs thanks to a real whirlwind of an agent I had in Tokyo. Tony knows who I’m talking about.

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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/2018/08/bob-shell-warning-environmentalist-rant/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Diary: Why I bought a 38

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38 Holstered. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018. Model: Sandy Ward

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018
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38 HOLSTERED

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Back in the early 90’s, my wife and I were visiting friends at a party in Vineland, New Jersey, about an hours drive from our studio in center city Philadelphia when my cell phone rang.  It was a neighbor in our building on 6th street informing me that our apartment had been broken into and police were called to investigate.  I was shocked at first never before was I violated in such a personal way. Sandy (my wife at the time) and I immediately drove home speeding up 42 North towards the Walt Whitman Bridge. By the time of our arrival home the building was silent, no police in sight,  just a vague description from a neighbor that they saw a man with a tape player in his hand hastily walking down the fire escape and out the back door of the building.

When I entered the apartment from the garage, the rear door exiting to the fire escape was closed but not locked. There was no clear sign of a break in. Not a scratch on the door or a crowbar left behind. It raised serious questions as to who could have entered the loft without breaking in? A few things were missing; change that I left on the burrow of my bedroom, my fathers antique watch that he gave me when I was in college, the new tape player that I just bought was missing.  All of the wires connecting it to the rest of the stereo equipment was strewn about. My mind started to imagine and search for who the perpetrator could be? Was it one of my employee’s some of whom did have a key?

The next day I drove up to my father’s house in Elkins Park and asked him to go with me to a gun shop that I knew was straight up 611 just before you get to the Willow Grove mall. We parked out in front of the nondescript place, walked in and began pacing up and down the cases looking for the best way to comfort my fear of the break in. Thoughts of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry came to mind.  I also recalled when I used to go out in the back woods with my roommate in college to practice shooting at tin cans with his 44 Magnum until one day he cracked the barrel by overpacking the bullets. The store’s salesman convinced me I didn’t need anything that large. The 38 Rossi was an adequate means of protecting my home in the event of another break in when I was home or worse home with my wife and children. I became a regular at the shooting range and eventually learned how to pack my own hollow point bullets.

Fortunately, I have never had to use it other than to enjoy the cheap thrill of being able to hit a target from a certain distance. Nowadays folks go out and buy an AR15 for similar reasons. Somehow I think that is a bit over kill.

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To access additional diary entries by Tony Ward, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/diary-portrait-of-a-jersey-girl/

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Portrait of Tony Ward by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Tony Ward by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018

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