Category Archives: Popular Culture

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #15


The Collector



Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #15


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


I’m sitting here listening to some wonderful music. It’s the soundtrack album for The Collector, a late 1960s film by William Wyler, based on the novel by John Fowles. I consider Fowles to be the finest writer in English of the second half of the 20th Century. The Collector may have been his first novel; it’s certainly one of his earliest. By very happy synchronicity, Maurice Jarre was given the task of composing the score, and that seductively sensitive music stuck in my mind when I first saw the film and wouldn’t let go. Samantha Eggar was the actress, but I’ll be damned if I can remember the actor’s name. It’s just the two of them for almost the whole film, and they both did spectacular jobs. Simple plot, but beautifully realized.

I rushed out and bought the soundtrack on vinyl LP as soon as I could find it, and probably wore the grooves off a copy or two. Somehow, when my music collection changed from vinyl to CD I never could find this music on CD and after my turntable broke down I was without a lot of music. Some came out on CD, but much didn’t, or my sources just couldn’t get it.

Naturally I was delighted yesterday when my regular search turned up a hit and I. was able to buy the soundtrack of The Collector. I have a list that I search for regularly, and periodically I’ll get a hit and once more listen to music that’s only a memory in my mind.

Another album I played the grooves off in the 60s is Puzzle by The Mandrake Memorial, one of the best of the psychedelic genre. That one did come out on CD eventually, but is still absent from our music catalog. We get our music downloads from a company called JPay, which has an exclusive deal with the Virginia DOC. There are terminals on the wall of each pod, and when we’re allowed out in the pod we can log on and search for music to buy and download, and send and receive email. Most songs cost us $ 1.99 each, with albums running around $ 15.00 – 17.00. Unfortunately, JPay doesn’t have any Beatles, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and several others, but otherwise their selection is pretty good. They even have some pretty obscure groups like Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies that I used to listen to back in the day. I even recently found an odd old album I like, Hard Rock From The Middle East by The Devil’s Anvil, perhaps the only American rock band that sang in Arabic and Turkish!

Music makes the long, sad, boring hours of prison pass a bit faster and carries me away from this sordid existence that is my life now.

Maurice Jarre is one of my favorite modern composers. He’s been lucky enough to write the musical scores for some of the finest motion pictures. I have a collection of movie music, and have more by him than any other composer. There are few outlets today for composers working in the classical mode, so I’m glad movies still provide an outlet for this talent. Rich patrons who support art for art’s sake are all too rare these days. Of course, this applies to all arts, not just music. We can’t all be Jeff Koons!


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 here



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Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #14


Photo of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018



Letters From Prison: Part 14, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


I should explain my reactions on being arrested. I was raised to believe the police were my friends. My father, a TV news reporter, had many friends on the Roanoke force, and one of my cousins was a police chief. So I’d been around policemen all my life and was comfortable with them. So when the Radford police arrested me I talked to them honestly and figured they’d quickly realize they had it all wrong and drop the charges. Wrong!

When I first got to know Marion in early 2002, she was very open with me that she was a druggie. Said she’d been a “pill freak” since the age of 13. Called herself a “walking PDR” (PDR is the Physician’s Desk Reference, a big book that includes information on all prescription drugs, what they are used for, and pictures of all pills, capsules, etc.). Marion could identify almost all pills and capsules on sight. She was also a pot smoker, on pretty much a daily basis. I wasn’t concerned about the marijuana, because I knew it wouldn’t hurt her, but did have some concerns about the pills. Back in the late 60s I’d known Dr. Humphrey Osmond, a researcher at NIMH in Bethesda. He had a project in which he gave people money to buy street drugs and bring them to him. Then his lab would analyze them to see if they were really what they were sold as, and if not, what was really in them. Not surprisingly, many were not what the sellers claimed they were, and some contained pretty nasty stuff, like belladonna, formaldehyde, etc. According to studies I’ve read, the situation is even worse today. A fairly high percentage of “X” sold today is something other than MDMA, the real substance that’s called “Ecstasy.”. MDMA is a so-called “super amphetamine,” and even the real stuff can be dangerous because it spikes body temperature and blood pressure.

Anyway, the question was asked, “did you ever give Marion drugs?”. The honest answer was yes. Marion was taking Valium, and so was I. We both had prescriptions from our doctors, hers in North Carolina, mine in Virginia. Did I have any proof that she had a prescription? All I know is that she would periodically go home to North Carolina and come back with a big prescription bottle full and the label had her name on it. Anyway, she ran out one time and couldn’t go home to get a refill right away so I gave her some of mine to fill the gap. You might think “No big deal!”. But you’d be wrong. I got a one year sentence for that. Did I ever give Marion any other prescription or illegal drugs? Emphatically no! And I’ve offered to take a polygraph exam on that (or any other questions), but the prosecution turned down my offer. Polygraph results are not admissible in court in Virginia, anyway, but it would have been nice to demonstrate that I’ve told the truth from day one.

What about the marijuana? I never bought any for her, but I did pay her for modeling and studio assisting, and I’m sure she spent some of her money on marijuana and pills. Her supplier, a college student named Rob, came to my trial and testified that he’d supplied her with pot, pills, and cocaine. But he said he was not a drug dealer, just a guy who got drugs for her (!). In spite of this admission made under oath in court, he was never charged with anything!

When they searched my studio the police found in Marion’s purse her pipe and the plastic box she carried her stash in, and ignored them. The detective said that they weren’t interested. After my 1969 experience in Richmond, that really surprised me. What a turnaround in those years!

Shortly before her death, Marion had gone to Florida to spend a week with friends near Orlando, had gone to some sort of concert/party/rave and came back with some pills sold to her as X. She’d taken some at the party and said she thought it wasn’t really X. I told her to throw them away, and thought she had. I’ll talk more about those suspect pills another time.

(How many of you know that, at least in Virginia, if you pick up someone else’s prescription medications from a pharmacy, you are violating the law? I was in court for a hearing one time. The person ahead of me was a frightened young woman who had been caught with her grandfather’s pills during a traffic stop. She was facing six years in prison! I don’t know how her case turned out because the judge didn’t drop the charges at the hearing, and sent her off to jail. That’s insane!)

Since Richard Nixon pushed the “War on Drugs” all his successors have followed suit, persecuting drug users but little else. Sure, they make a big splash now and then arresting people like Pablo Escobar and “El Chapo,” but that barely dents the river flowing across our borders. The government should have learned with the Volstead Act and the “Hooch War” of the 1920s that prohibition does not work. As long as there is a demand, someone will fill it.

As far as Marion’s drug use, I figured that she would outgrow it, as I had. By the late 1970s I had completely given up on drugs and considered them time wasters. I was just too busy. I even gave up alcohol, except to nurse a single Campari and soda all evening when appearances demanded.

Marion and I went to several parties when she accompanied me to Las Vegas for a photo industry trade show in 2003. She loved it, all the glitz and glitter. At a party at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, she was delighted to meet a very drunk Val Kilmer, who was a Nikon spokesman at the time. There’s a picture of us taken by Vladimir Samarin, Editor of Photomagazin in Moscow, at another party on that trip on the opening page of bobshelltruth. com……


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 here


Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Documentary, Erotica, Men, Models, News, Nudes, Politics, Portraiture, Women

A.H. Scott: TWS!


Illustration by Alexandra Rouvet Duvernoy, Copyright 2018



Poetry by A. H. Scott, Copyright 2018









It’s all here at TWS!

Contemporary and classic

Conformity brushed aside

Aroused and astonished

Seduced by a sly wink

Fabrics of coolness and delight

Hues of intensity and intention

Crafted items of dimension

Open your eyes and let your senses soar

Get a glimpse at his list of affiliates to learn and explore

Visionaries of style from days gone back

Newbies are even rubbing shoulders with this well established pack

With a roll call like this, there’s no way in the world any visitor to TWS could ever be bored

Tony Ward is an artisan of the lens that always taps the right cord

Shutter sounds and the quickening of creativity’s heart pounds

East coast, West coast, Europe and beyond, impact of this man’s camera has made all the rounds

Proclaim it proud!

Proclaim it loud!

This is Tony Ward Studio!

Bulls-eye perfected!


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


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Catherine Trifiletti: Lookbook Summer 2018


Catherine Trifiletti: Lookbook Summer 2018


To access the Catherine Trifiletti Lookbook for Summer 2018, click here


Also posted in Accessories, Advertising, Affiliates, Announcements, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Gifts, Glamour, Models, Photography, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #13

Portrait of Karen Boyle by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Karen Boyle by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Letters From Prison: Part 13, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


As promised, the story of PIC magazine. PIC, was short for People In Camera, and was started in the early 80s by Chris Knight as a sort of hobby. Captain Christopher Knight, to give him his proper title was an almost stereotypical rich English eccentric. He lived in a castle in Kent (Cooling Castle), had a full-time staff of falconers to care for his hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons, all of which spent most of their time on wooden perches in the castle courtyard. Chris was the scion of a family that owned fleets of container ships, which he and his brother had inherited. He was also a pretty darned good photographer, specializing in photos of pretty women. There was an old barn on the castle grounds that he’d had wired up and turned into an exceptionally well outfitted studio. He brought professional models from London for his own shoots and worked with a group of photographers who conducted workshops there and on the castle grounds. The photo of Karen Boyle, that year’s Miss Jamaica, that graced the splash page of my old website (and may still be up) was taken in one of the castle’s ruined towers in the summer of 1993. Anyway, I’d somehow met Chris, I don’t remember where, and was the invited up to the castle for a photo shoot and chat. Chris wanted to talk to me because PIC had been in the red for years, and as he said, was eating up all his “pocket money.”. We talked, he hired me as a consultant, and had the magazine’s books sent over to me. The problem was obvious when I looked over the books. He was grossly overstaffed, and was paying people high salaries for doing very little. I advised him to make some serious staff cuts, which made me very unpopular with those who got the axe, but in a short while the magazine was showing a small profit. Chris didn’t care if it made a lot of money, he just didn’t want it to keep on losing money.

One day I was in my office at home (I always worked from home) and got a call from a solicitor (British for lawyer) in London. It seemed that Chris had had a heart attack, and after hanging on for a week in hospital had died. But you could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me that Chris had rewritten his will during that week and had left PIC to me for a very nominal sum if I wanted it. Wow, biggest surprise of my life! I decided to give it a go even though running a magazine by “remote control” from the USA presented some major challenges. For most of 1994 I was essentially commuting between Radford and London. PIC originally had it’s offices in the grimy old English city of Rochester. I didn’t want to go up there, so I moved everything down to Hove on the south coast, and borrowed a large office from Hove Foto Books, my English book publisher, for a few months until we found a London office near Kings Cross, London. I realized at some point that trying to run a magazine in the UK while holding together my American commitments was just about impossible. Plus, we had a serious cash flow problem. On paper we were looking good, but many advertisers simply weren’t paying their bills. Not just little guys either, but some major companies were holding onto our invoices for six months or more. Meanwhile we had printing, postage, salaries, etc., that had to be paid right then. Then, real disaster struck! Over the long Christmas holiday a water pipe on the top floor burst, flooding our office and ruining things. The bottom line was that I could not go on pouring thousands of pounds of my own money in every month. Unlike Chris my resources had rather tight limits. So I had to make the very painful decision at the end of 1994 to shut the magazine down.

It was great while it lasted and I was very proud of the “book” (as magazines are called inside the business). We won an international design award for one cover, by the amazing Japanese photographer Hiroshi Nonami. The president of Olympus in the UK wrote to me to say that my cover portrait of model Nicolle Gray was the finest portrait he had ever seen. I was gratified by such positive feedback. I still own rights to the PIC name and logo and hoped to one day relaunch it. If I ever do it will most likely be as a webzine.

Having to close that magazine was like losing a child.

I did meet some very interesting people during that time period. Anyone from the UK reading this and old enough will probably recognize the name Keith Johnson, founder of Keith Johnson Photographic, later just called KJP, which was the largest chain of photo shops in the. UK. By 1994 he had sold the company and moved to his vineyards and winery in Sussex, where he was producing a very nice wine called Sussex Gold. He invited me, Michael Barrington-Martin and Bob Dove, two of the PIC writers there for a day. Keith had opened a restaurant there and had a nice big meeting room. We discussed having some photo workshops there, but that never came to pass. I had taught some workshops in London by then as well as in Germany, and was looking to expand, but things just didn’t work as well over there. The logistics were horrific and ate up any profit. Eventually, I settled down to the USA and Caribbean, where the logistical problems were fewer. My outdoor workshops were held here in Virginia on forest land I owned, in Florida on St. Pete Beach and Clearwater, and in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. In the Caribbean I used beaches and private estates on St. Thomas, USVI. I had people from Europe and Japan come to these, which was easier than taking my show to them. I also conducted many studio workshops in my Radford studio, which had been specifically set up for teaching. It was big enough (35 x 80 feet) to have multiple sets active at the same time. Of course, I lost my studio when I was convicted, along with practically everything else…..


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 here



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