Category Archives: Photography

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #12

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Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

Letters From Prison: Part 10, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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One thing that always comes up when people talk to me about Marion is our age difference. When I first met her in April of 2002, she was eighteen and I was fifty-four. Some have been highly critical of me for having a relationship with such a great age difference. In 2002 I had been working with models since the sixties, and the only reason I can say with certainly that I’d photographed over two hundred women is that I have signed model release forms from all of them (minus some the police took and never gave back!). You may not believe me, but I swear it’s true that in all those years with all those beautiful young women, I never had a romantic relationship with any of them. The opportunity was there, but I was a straight arrow, keeping business and personal life totally separate. As any woman I ever photographed will attest, no matter how sexually suggestive the poses, I was always completely professional and respectful. That’s just me. Sure, there has to be a sexual tension – a spark – between photographer and model to produce good images, but it works best when this connection is sublimated, kept simmering below the surface. Anything else and the sexual tension gets in the way and you might as well forget photography. Now I know I speak only for myself here and other photographers may have a different philosophical approach, but I learned over the years what works for me. And it worked very well, so much so that the federal judge in a suit I filed in 2005 (that’s a story for another time) called me “a renowned photographer with a long-established reputation.” Although I didn’t have romantic relationships with them, many models I worked with became good friends. Five of them write to me here regularly, and one even sends me money.

The point of this is that the Radford police and prosecutor knew nothing about me, and instead of learning the truth as the federal judge had done, they created a fantasy Bob Shell. who was nothing like the real me.

When Marion first walked into my studio that day in April of 2002, something happened that had not happened to me since 1967 (that, too, is another story.). It was like a lightning bolt shot between us. We both felt it as Marion later told me. We shot a lot of still photos that afternoon and about twenty minutes of video. Marion was simply a natural model. Although she’d had minimal experience, doing her first modeling earlier that year, I hardly needed to direct her at all. She moved from pose to pose fluidly, and seemed to just know what looked good to the camera. After that first test session I couldn’t wait to bring her back. Problem was that she was living in Boone, NC, more than four hours away, and her old Subaru wagon wasn’t in the best of shape. But we made do and I brought her up for sessions as often as I could. That summer she was living with a tattoo artist, and she told me that he tied her up for sex. She liked being restrained, she said, but complained that he tied the ropes too tight. She brought some Polaroid photos one time that a former boyfriend had made of her tied up. The photography was amateurish, but it was clear that she enjoyed it.

By late summer I was forced to admit that I had fallen for her – hard! We had begun spending time together in the bed in my studio after shoots, but there was no sex because I was still very conflicted about the idea of a relationship with a model, and did have concern about the age difference.

Marion had taken to my studio quickly, and began assisting me when I was working with other models. In October I offered her a full-time job modeling and assisting me in my studio and office. I found her an apartment one block from my studio and she moved to Radford. The apartment was owned by the same people I rented my studio from, and was half the ground floor of a large old building. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and the usual kitchen and bath. Lots of room. We set about furnishing it with trips to factory outlets in Southside Virginia, where there are furniture factories. Ended up with some nice stuff at very low prices.

So, we spent the rest of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 in a frenzy of work, doing photo sessions almost every day, some in my studio, and some in my “outdoor studio,” forest land I owned about a half hour’s drive away. Marion loved the outdoor shoots. She was a country girl at heart and felt completely at ease in the woods. Frequently I had to end the shoots because I was worn out, or she would want to stay until the light was too dim for pictures. After the shoots we’d usually lie around for a while on a blanket and talk just as we did in the studio bed.

I still feel that some of those outdoor photos are the best in my career. Some of them, though not bondage images, are featured in my book Erotic Bondage: Art Of Rope. I put them in as counterpoint to the bondage images. (At this time in late 2002 and early 2003 I was transitioning from film to digital. Some of the book’s images are from film, some from digital, and I don’t believe anyone can tell which is which. I’d worked since the 80s with Canon EOS cameras, so it was natural for me to take to the EOS 10D when it came along – all my lenses fit! But Nikon had invited me out to Colorado in 2002 for a product introduction, and gave me a Nikon D100 and accessories to evaluate, and so some of the photos for the book were taken with that camera, and those taken on film were shot with a Rollei 6008i, a Minolta Maxxum 9 and a Leica M7. So much for brand loyalty! All major camera brands are capable of professional results in the right hands.)

To be continued…..

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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 at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-10/

Also posted in Art, Blog, Book Reviews, Documentary, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Models, Nudes, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Catherine Trifiletti: 2018 Lookbook

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Catherine Trifiletti: 2018 Lookbook

 

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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To see the complete Catherine Trifiletti 2018 Lookbook, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/gallery/catherine-trifiletti-design/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Advertising, Affiliates, Announcements, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Erotica, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, Models, News, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Lilibeth Montero: Platonic Soulmate

 

Photography and Text by Lilibeth Montero, Copyright 2018

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Platonic Soulmate

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As I finish my first year at Penn, I have begun to reflect on the events that occurred this year. I have come to the realization that I wouldn’t have been able to survive college without my best friend Abril. This year has been filled with obstacles, and through every single one Abril has helped me.

The first semester at Penn, I was in a bad place. I wasn’t doing well in my classes and I found it difficult to relate to others. Therefore I kept to myself and started to isolate myself from others. There were countless instances I pushed her away, but she stayed. I never thought it was possible to find someone that is so much like oneself. Abril and I share shared experiences we are both daughters of Mexican immigrants, low income first generation students and nursing majors. Therefore, we understand one another and support each other. Something that is incredibly valuable in an environment like Penn.

How do I explain my relationship with Abril?

Abril is my platonic soulmate. Yes I have had best friends before, but never has a friendship developed as smoothly and effortlessly as my friendship with Abril. First of all, I cherish moments with her and long to be at her side. We both support one another, and value the phrase “we succeed together”.

Through my photography, I want to capture my friendship with Abril. I want the audience to see the huge amount of love I have for her. I want the audience to see a trusting and powerful friendship between two women that support one another, and help each other succeed. Essentially,  I want the audience to feel as if Abril is their friend too because I feel everyone needs a friend like “Abril”.

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About The Author: Lilibeth Montero is a freshman enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021. To access additional articles by Lilibeth Montero, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/lilibeth-montero-national-dominican-student-conference/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, Women

Anisha Arora: The Wonders of Spring

 

Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018

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The Wonders of Spring

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Having lived in India and Africa, I always took sun for granted. Living in Philadelphia for 1.5 years and witnessing the brutal winter of 2017-18 has made me realize how much I love the spring and summer seasons. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. So, after months and months of waiting, when spring finally arrived, I realized I wanted to capture it in all it’s glory.

This was also a great opportunity to experiment with a macro lens, that I had never used before. Using a macro lens and having a fixed focal length made me realize the importance of finding the right angles. I have tried to capture the different colors of spring, the flowers, the leaves and even a brave squirrel.

These photographs, for me, are also a reminder of not taking things for granted. The colors, the flowers, the sun only last for a few months, and so do many other important things in life that we often take for granted. In fact, photographing for this project made me aware of how much happiness nature brings to my life. In the age of technology, with our eyes glued to electronics, this is something I want to hold on to.

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About The Author: Anisha Arora is enrolled in the Graduate program, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Anisha Arora, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/anisha-arora-south-africa-the-land-of-contradictions/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Popular Culture, Women

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #11

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

 
Letters From Prison: Part 11, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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As an observer of the world and all its wonders, I am very concerned that we are such poor stewards of this “jumpin’ green sphere.” (as Lord Buckley called it.). Annyone who persists in denying climate change is just not paying attention. The Arctic ice cap is melting! Now people seem to think that only concerns polar bears and Eskimos, but it should seriously concern us all. All of that ice is FRESH WATER, man! Once enough fresh water floods into the Laurentian Sea and desalinates it, this will seriously affect the temperature differential of the Atlantic that drives the major currents (to say nothing about what it will do to the fish). The only reason that northern Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, Iceland, etc., are habitable is the North Atlantic Current, which pumps warm water (and air) up from the tropics and warms things up for the people there. Take away that current, have it loop farther south, or greatly weaken it, and you have Siberia! Sure, people do live in Siberia, but they can’t grow their food there. Shut off the North Atlantic Current and most of Europe becomes too cold for crops. Keep the current shut down and you have a new Ice Age (this same effect causes all ice ages) and it will come to that if the Arctic keeps melting. It’s probably far too late to stop the melting, if we even could.

All that being said, I’m not convinced that we caused this. Many blame us and our addiction to burning fossil fuels, but ice ages are cyclical, and we weren’t around in significant numbers before the last big one, and most likely not around at all for most of them. So I doubt we’re the sole cause of the coming one; but we may well have nudged it sooner; it would have. happened regardless. Of course what’s happening in the northern hemisphere is also happening in the southern, and probably with similar effects. I know a lot less about ocean currents in southern oceans. But the truth, as illogical as it may seem at first, is that global warming at the surface causes and precedes ice ages. And we should be preparing ourselves for this. Most scientists who study the past are “gradualists” who believe that all earth changes take a long time. Their opposites are “catastrophists” who believe that some changes can be sudden. There is evidence accumulating that the last big ice age may have arrived pretty suddenly, perhaps in just one season. Maybe even faster. The mammoths found in the permafrost of Siberia show signs of being flash frozen, and scientists from Japan believe they can extract viable sperm from one and use it to artificially inseminate an elephant to produce an elephant/mammoth hybrid from which they can breed a new herd of mammoths. The famous Beresovka mammoth was killed and frozen so fast that it was still chewing on its last meal. That didn’t happen gradually! Slow freezing allows ice crystals to form inside cells, and those crystals tear up the complex cellular machinery and burst the cell walls, basically reducing tissue to mush. Flash freezing, as Clarence Birdseye discovered, preserves cellular structure, so your frozen foods aren’t mush. Mammoths have been found so fresh that people have dined on mammoth steaks! Gradualism be damned!

The movie The Day After Tomorrow used this idea to good effect, and it was based on Whitley Strieber’s book The Coming Global Superstorm, where I first encountered these ideas. I’ve since read much on the subject, and I’m convinced.

What’s this got to do with photography? you may ask. Well, I didn’t only photograph unclad females. In fact, the majority of my stock photography sales have been of landscapes and nature pictures. As I mentioned before, I’m (through Shutterbug) one of the founders of NANPA, the North American Nature Photographers Association, and was Technical Editor of Outdoor and Nature Photography magazine. I care about the natural world deeply. If I’m wrong about the coming ice age, and I truly hope I am, I’d like to see the natural world be around for future generations to love, and photograph. Weather isn’t the only threat to the natural world, we are destroying it at a ridiculous speed. There is nothing more absurd than cutting down forests to raise more cattle for our hamburgers, yet we’re doing it at an alarming rate. Those forests make the oxygen we breathe! Do we want to eat our burgers while sucking on a tube from an oxygen tank?

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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 at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-10/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Travel