Category Archives: History

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, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, 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/
 
 
 
 
Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, News, Politics, Popular Culture

Bob Shell:

Deep Hate: Illustration by Thomcat23

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Illustration by Thomcat23, Copyright 2019

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INSANITY REIGNS IN AMERICA TODAY

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Many years ago Mark Twain said that America has no native criminal class except for Congress. Will Rogers said the difference between death and taxes was that death didn’t get worse every time Congress was in session.

What put these comments into my mind is that our government has devolved to the point that partisan bickering keeps it from accomplishing much, but what it does accomplish is usually bad. The ancient Greeks had a word for what we have today, kakistocracy. That means “government by the worst.”. And I think most of my readers will agree that we couldn’t get much worse than the current bunch of Bozos. No, wait, that’s an insult to Bozo the Clown, and these clowns aren’t the least bit funny.

But bad government is only part of the problem. We seem to be degenerating into a fractionalized society in which some fractions are always seeking to be offended by what other factions do. Nowhere in our constitution is there a right not to be offended. In fact, in earlier times Americans lived by the maxim, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Freedom of speech/expression is the most important right guaranteed by our Constitution. But many people obviously don’t believe in it. I’m sitting in this prison cell right now because twelve small town jurors were offended by my erotic photography. If they’d paid attention and done the job they pledged to do, they would have noticed that the prosecution never proved the key elements of its case against me, and none of my photography was illegal. But they ruled based on prejudice,, not fact, and were offended by the small sampling of my photos that the prosecution projected up to giant size on the courtroom wall, and those were personal photos never intended for publication.

This was brought back to my mind last week by a news story that I read in my favorite magazine, THE WEEK. To celebrate America, the Nike company planned to introduce a new shoe with the original United States flag, as designed by Betsy Ross, with a ring of thirteen stars, on the shoe back. Nike was forced to withdraw the shoe when people protested that the original United States flag was a symbol of slavery. Sounds ridiculous, iduotic, like someone’s idea of a silly fake news story. Something you’d see in THE ONION. But this really happened.

Now I could understand if Nike had used the “Stars and Bars” of the Confederacy, but the original U. S. flag? And so what? If Nike had any guts they’d have ignored protests from the ignorant and produced the shoe for those proud of our country to wear proudly. I’d have bought a pair if I was on the outside.

Certainly, there were things wrong with this country as first conceived, and slavery was one of them, but there were more good things than bad. Our history is a history of fixing what’s wrong incrementally, striving toward the impossible goal of perfection.

Women were repressed in this country far longer than any ethnic group, and in many ways still are, but we’re making progress on those issues. I didn’t hear women protesting Betsy Ross’s flag.

Communist regimes invariably try to rewrite history when they come to power, but history has a way of surviving to re-emerge when those regimes topple, as they invariably do. In the old U.S.S.R. they renamed everything, thus you ended up with cities named Leningrad, Stalingrad, etc., but when the U.S.S.R. collapsed the old names were restored because people had not forgotten them. The attempts nowadays to rewrite American history and wipe out all memory of the Confederacy are similarly due to fail. Knocking over statues revered by many is nothing more than vandalism, and is just another example of thin-skinned people looking for something to be offended by. Removing names of prominent Confederate generals from schools, highways, towns, etc. is more lunacy.

In Germany, they tried to wipe out the history of the Third Reich. They knocked down statues and monuments and renamed things named after Nazis. They went so far as to purge swastikas from the decal sets of plastic model kits of WWII airplanes, tanks, ships, etc., and banned the display of Nazi symbols. What did this accomplish? A generation ignorant of the history of European fascism, and the many skinhead neo-nazis and holocaust deniers.

Will we have deniers of slavery in our future? I’m sure we will.

In Italy, busts of Mussolini are illegal, but I could have bought an many as I wanted ranging in size from a few inches tall to larger than life size in San Marino. Who buys them? Italian tourists, of course, who take them home to display inside their houses. I could have bought Hitler busts, too, if I’d wanted such a thing. Was I offended that these things were for sale? No, I was not, because I know the history of the German Nazis and Italian Fascists, and that history must not be forgotten. The history of the American “Civil War,” similarly, must not be swept under the rug, but must be taught, and taught accurately.

Those who forget history are destined to repeat it. We must never forget the truth of that statement. If we want a future free from the evils of the past, we must remember them, and our children must be taught them honestly, even if the truth offends them. Not all history lessons are pleasant.

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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-objectifying-and-exploiting-women/

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, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, News, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel

Portrait of the Day: Carmen

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

 

Editor’s Note: To see more pictures of Carmen as well as other pictures and films from Tony Ward’s erotica collection, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/category/membership-account/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Glamour, Jewelry, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Women

Racquel Ward: A Practical Artist

TW in his Elkins Park office. Copyright 2019

Text by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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Making Money and Art in 21st Century Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is expensive. That’s what grass-to-profit artists who have been in the game for 40 plus years will tell you about our transformed city. Consider this a public service announcement for artists of any age who are looking for stability. World-renowned and Philadelphia-based photographer Tony Ward has stuck around to see everyday life in Philly change and evolve. That means everyday life for an artist in Philly must change and evolve.

Since making money has always been the bane of the artist’s experience, Tony Ward has expanded into real estate development and education. At 63 and in his golden years, Ward has figured out the perfect recipe for a balanced life – selling art, securing property, and teaching at Haverford College in the Spring of 2020. A longtime professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Ward has chosen to sustain his creative lifestyle by working closer to home and continuing to illuminate his innovative skills through teaching photography to young artists at Haverford.

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Tony Ward Studio Apartment

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As a blogger, his well-trafficked websites tonyward.com, tonywardstudio.com, and tonywarderotica.com keep him busy publishing articles by a great supporting cast of creative writers including; A.H. Scott, Bob Shell, Katie Kerl, and Mikala Mikrut.

Through property development, Ward has recently created a stylish home for renters; making a beautiful, modern space in the historic Elkins Park neighborhood. The recent purchase and subsequent renovation has been a creative outlet for Ward. The project happily supports his photographic endeavors and allows room for his 5000 print photography archive to be stored at home instead of an offsite storage facility.

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TWS: Tennant Apartment

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Artists of all ages, take note. Non-artists are doing it, why shouldn’t you? Better you in the neighborhood than a bank. Educate yourself on the bustling real estate market in Philly, sell your art whenever you can, and pass your knowledge onto the next generation – wherever you can.

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Tony Ward Studio Apartments

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About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book. To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-expo/

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Editors Note: This article first appeared athttp://dosagemagazine.com

 

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Family Legacy Project, lifestyle, Men, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Portraiture