Category Archives: Nudes

Bob Shell: Objectifying and Exploiting Women

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

.

Objectifying and Exploiting Women?

.

An English friend once gave me a really hard time; she said I was objectifying and exploiting women in my photography. That disagreement caused me to spend some time thinking about this issue. Don’t all photographers objectify their subjects and exploit them? Did Ansel Adams objectify and exploit Halfdome? Did Edward Weston objectify and exploit bell peppers? Is the whole argument ridiculous?

Let’s look at both prongs of this argument. Objectifying is a somewhat strange concept, since it means turning something into an object. But, when you think about it, everything we photograph is already an object, or we couldn’t photograph it in the first place. When we photograph something, we’re. taking a three dimensional object and converting it into a two dimensional representation of itself. So in a sense, we’re de-objectifying it. Hmmmm.

No, that’s not what she was talking about. When she argued that I was “objectifying” women, she meant that I was looking at them as objects, specifically as sex objects. Was I? I’d have to say yes to that. After all, the intent of many of my photographs was to create a sexual frisson in the viewer, be that viewer male or female. If I punched the viewer in the libido, I felt that the photograph was a success. So, was I turning my model into a sex object? I’d argue no, that she was already a sex object before I ever clicked the shutter. I didn’t make her into a sex object, God or evolution did; take your pick. Either way, women are shaped the way they are to arouse interest in men. That’s simply a fact. Her rounded form is designed/evolved to attract men. We even say of a pretty woman that she is “attractive,” usually without really thinking of the implications of that statement.

Let me put on my biologist hat for a moment. Whether we like it or not, we are animals, mammals to be a bit more precise. We are advanced apes. Jared Diamond even says we’re the third species of chimpanzee, after the common chimp and bonobo.. If that offends you, skip on to the next paragraph. In our cousins, the gorillas, chimps, and bonobos sexual attraction is a matter primarily of scent. Females have nipples up high on their chests, practically in their armpits. They have no breasts and wouldn’t know what to do with a bra. There is nothing about their chests to arouse or attract the male. At the other end, they have narrow flat asses without bulging buttocks. We humans, on the other hand, are almost totally visual in our sex cues and have de-emphasized our sense of smell, so much so that our females borrow scents from other animals and plants when they want to send a scent signal. The perfume industry has gotten rich off of that.

But what first gets a man’s attention? Its two rounded areas of protruding fatty tissue, either in front or in back. What Americans call T & A (the English say T & B, “tits and bums.”) This fact keeps “cosmetic surgeons” busy, adding breasts where there are none, or those nature provided are considered inadequate, and reshaping behinds, to produce the “perfect” rounded shape. I’ve always counseled my models against “cosmetic surgery” at either end, preferring their natural shape.

But, back to our argument. Do women objectify themselves when they augment their tops and/or bottoms? I’d argue yes, they do. Do I objectify them? No! One of my models was a former Playboy model. To reach her goal of being a Playboy featured model, she had most of her body reworked. She got there, but who objectified her? Basically I consider that part of the argument silly. How can I objectify someone who has already done it to herself?

Now, on to the second point. Did I exploit my models? Damn well, yes, I did! Did they complain about it? No! Why? Because I paid them well for posing with the thought that I’d someday make money from the pictures. Did I always profit? No!!! And sometimes pictures sat in my files and my agents’ files for years before finding a buyer. Some never did. From a business perspective, my images were my stock, and no business person wants stock sitting in a warehouse for years. At the same time, unlike the warehouse stock of most businesses, my photos don’t lose value from sitting there. My overhead is minimal; some filing cabinets and some digital storage devices. I’ve had substantial sales from images many years old. Most of what I shoot never goes out of fashion.

So on the question of objectifying and exploiting women, I plead innocent to the first and guilty to the second.

As I have said before, I photographed my first nudes in 1969 in the woods at Roanoke’s water reservoir. Looking back at those many years later it was clear that I didn’t have a clue about posing a model, but the results weren’t awful. By 1973-4 when I photographed Kathy G. at the old farm/apple orchard where we lived, I’d spent time reading books on posing, and got some pretty good images, images I’d not be embarrassed to show today. It helped that she was a natural at graceful posing. In those early days I found my models by running ads in the school newspaper at Hollins College, a woman’s school (It’s now Hollins University and co-ed), and in the Roanoke Times classified ads. Later, when I had my camera shop just blocks from Roanoke College, I never had a problem coming up with good models, because word of mouth, the best advertising, spread that I was fun to pose for and treated my models respectfully. Was I attracted to these beautiful young women? Absolutely! After all, I was young myself with a full. complement of raging hormones. Did I come on to them? No way! Photographers as a group already had a dodgy reputation, and I cared to set myself apart from the crowd. I’d have no qualms today about facing any of the women who modeled for me from 1969 to 2007. Of course there were none past 2007 because I was in prison!

.

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/studio-news-bob-shells-new-book/

 

 

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, Glamour, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Bob Shell: Female Nudes

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

.

Female Nudes

.

Why did I choose to specialize in photographing female nudes? That’s a question I was often asked at my lectures and workshops. My answer is that I know of nothing in nature more beautiful than the human body, particularly lithe young bodies unashamed to be naked for my camera. That’s why Marion appealed to me so much as a model; she was a natural nudist. Whenever we were in private places, off would come her clothes!

Some of my best models were referred to me by my late friend Ed Harper. Ed and his wife were both regulars at a nudest retreat near Richmond, and Ed was an avid photographer who often photographed women he met there. He’d refer the best of them to me, sometimes coming to my studio to photograph them with me. These young women were all completely comfortable posing nude, and since they were nudists, they didn’t have tan lines. Tan lines are the bane of photographers. Yes, they can be Photoshopped out, but that’s a lot of work. I once had a policewoman who wanted to model for me, The only problem was that she spent a lot of time outdoors directing traffic, so her arms where they weren’t covered by her short sleeves were much darker than the rest of her, which was relatively pale. I had to give up on her, because my Photoshop skills just weren’t up to fixing that!

Tattoos can also cause problems. One of my favorite models, who modeled under the name Elkie Cooper, had a bunch of tattoos, and I don’t know how many hours I spent in Photoshop when I wanted them out of a particular picture. In most cases I would not have gone to all that trouble, but Elkie had a magnificent body, and a wonderful personality, and brought my photo’s of her to life. Of course, when they fit the mood of the photo I’d leave the tattoos alone.

Skin blemishes are also a problem for photography as are scars. And I once had a model show up for a shoot with a real shiner of a black eye. She gave me the old “walked into a door” line, but I didn’t believe a word of it. We did what we could with makeup, and I posed her with her good eye toward the camera, and I don’t think any of the magazine’s readers saw anything amiss. When you’re on deadline you make things work.

My biggest peeve was when a model would make some drastic change in her look and not tell me when I contacted her to set up a shoot. I’ve had models cut off all their hair, change it to a weird color, put it in dreadlocks, get breast enlargement, gain a lot of weight, and so on, so that the person who showed up at my door looked nothing like the person I thought I was booking.

Why I chose to photograph women is simply that I don’t do well photographing men. Oh, I’ve tried, but I find the angularity of the male body much harder to pose. Of course, when I was running a portrait and wedding studio I photographed anyone who came in and wanted their picture taken (very few wanted nude photos!) I realized pretty quickly that I really didn’t like that type of photography, so I cut way down on the amount of this work by raising my prices until I was the most expensive photographer in the area. I worked a lot less but ended up taking in about the same amount of money. By the end of the 80s I was making more money from magazine work and the books I was writing than from photography, so I sold the business and moved on, only photographing things I wanted to photograph. I never looked back.

.

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://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-meditations-on-cameras-and-the-state-of-the-photo-industry-today/

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Documentary, Erotica, Film, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Models, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Perfect Holiday Gifts: Fashion Fetish 25 Years. Available in Store!

Tony_Ward_new_book_Fashion_Fetish_25_Years_in_Store_A_H_Scott_writer_NYC

Fashion Fetish 25 Years

 

 

FASHION FETISH 25 YEARS now available in Storehttp://tonywarderotica.com/store/

.

With introduction by A.H. Scott. Copyright 2018

 

Also posted in Advertising, Announcements, Art, Book Reviews, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Friends of TWS, Gifts, Glamour, History, Light Table, Models, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Now Available in Store: Fashion Fetish 25 Years!

Fashion_Fetish_25_Years_Store_book_sale_Bobbi_Eden_nude_model

Fashion Fetish 25 Years

 

 

Studio News:

Fashion Fetish 25 Years.  Introduction by A.H. Scott: Now taking orders in limited edition of 500 copies. Click here to enter Storehttp://tonywarderotica.com/store/

.

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

Also posted in Accessories, Advertising, Announcements, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Diary, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Models, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Katie Kerl: Backlash

 

 

Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2018

.
BACKLASH, 34 What’s Normal?

.

In today’s society the motto is “do what makes you happy”, until what makes you happy makes others uncomfortable. Growing up catholic in the suburbs it was ingrained that you cover up, go to college, get married, and you have kids. Pushing us all to be the same in that regard, and expecting a lot of someone by the time they are of a “certain age”. 

  I never wanted that conformed life.  I have always leaped head first into things regardless of what I am “supposed” to be doing. When Tony asked me to write a piece for his blog and take photos of course I said “YES”! That also led to a slew of negative remarks from my more cooperate friends who must keep up “appearances”. My more creative/fit friends thought it was an amazing opportunity for me to express myself on so many levels.

A few of the women that criticized me fight their own insecurities and the inability to communicate feelings through tight dresses & plastic surgery. Just to gain social acceptance.  I do not judge them either because at the end of the day, it is your life. The only regrets you will have are the chances you did not take.

Being comfortable in my own skin and communicating raw feeling through blogging seems to be worlds away from that zone of heavy judgment. Your job title does not make you a good person, the amount of money you make, or the level of education you have received. None of that has to do with your personality, or comfort in passing judgments on people you barely know.

My own mother thought she did something wrong in raising me because I chose to do something so far outside of her comfort zone that was the only explanation she had. Instead of her realizing she raised an opinionated self confident woman. 

At almost 35, I like to think I make good decisions in my own time. I have made enough wrong choices early on to know what I’m getting myself into, what I like, don’t ,  and will more than likely be vocalizing that regardless of what other people think. I’m always in disbelief when older women cast a look of horror on me when I tell them how old I am, I’m not married, and childless. I would love to see the look on some of their faces at the photos from these blog posts.

Moving to Philadelphia was the best choice I could have made. I have learned so much about myself here. Philly is such a melting pot of cultures, history, art, sexual acceptance, random nights, and fast paced life. You can go from black tie gala to save a playground, to an underground house music party that goes till 7am all in one night. Not to mention all the amazing food this city has to offer.

The people I met over the last 8 years that have stuck around for all of my head first antics completely blow my mind. Being accepted for who you are is an amazing feeling. That is why I keep my circle of friends small and grateful for every one of them.  I will continue to find that level of acceptance from people who I let into my life. One of my favorite quotes: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Einstein

.

Katie_kerl_self_portraits_backlash_hats_accessories

Katie Kerl

.

About The Author

Katie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. 
Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology .
Occupation : commercial/ residential  design 
Philadelphia resident since 2011 . 
Hobbies include  : Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos , & house music lover . 
Instagram:  @beatz_eatz_n_freaks 
.
To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:http://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-epidemic/
 
Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women