Category Archives: Cameras

Bob Shell: Doing Time in Virginia

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Doing Time in Virginia

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I had the misfortune of living in Virginia when I was arrested, tried, and convicted. Virginia is a beautiful place, with fertile valleys and beautiful mountains. The history is rich and significant. The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest sitting legislature in North America, and was the model for the United States Congress. Virginia’s declaration of human rights was the model for the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. So Virginia should be a great place to live, right?

Unfortunately, no. We have a ‘justice system” run amok. Back in 1996 we had a Governor named George Allen, a baby-faced, benevolent-looking man, Republican, of course, who was determined to be “tough on crime,” and with the complicity of the legislature, abolished parole. Parole rates before that were about 30%. Abolishing parole with the idea of keeping criminals out of society didn’t work, it had absolutely no effect on Virginia’s crime rate.

Anyone convicted before that change is still eligible for parole, anyone convicted after 1996 isn’t. I was convicted in 2007, so no parole for me.

They did establish something called Geriatric Conditional Release, known informally as geriatric parole. After age 65 you go before the Parole Board once a year, automatically, to be considered for this. I’ve been interviewed by teleconferencing, never a live person, and turned down annually seven times now!

From July through December of last year, the latest period for which I have the figures, out of 307 people eligible for Geriatric Conditional Release, only 25 were granted. If I’ve done the math right, that’s just over 8%, most of them very old and Ill, and costing the Virginia Department of Corrections significant amounts of money in medical expenses. I’m in a handicapped pod with 80 men total. Of those 80, there are ten who are confined to wheelchairs, and two, including me, who need canes to get around. All are older, three over 80.

Adrianne Bennett, Chair of the Virginia Parole Board says there is a looming crisis due to the large number of prisoners who will soon be eligible for geriatric release. Where, I ask, is this crisis if they release so few?

All told there are more than 40,000 people in Virginia prisons, at an annual cost to taxpayers of a billion dollars, the single biggest item in the budget. Insanity!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I could be released today and would not be a threat to anyone, because I was never a threat to anyone in the first place. The same is true of many in here.

There is also the governor’s pardon, technically called Executive Clemency. This was supposed to replace parole, but it hasn’t. Very few have been granted. I filed my petition with the Governor in 2006, accompanied by more than fifty letters attesting to my character, from former photography models, industry colleagues, even a United States Senator, and it has yet to be acted on. I’m on my third governor! When I write and ask what’s taking so long, they send me a form letter saying please be patient, the process can take up to a year! It’s been THREE bloody years!

My case is a political hot potato that each governor has handed off to his successor, while I sit in prison.

My suggested sentence, using the guidelines established by the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines Commission was 1 -1/2 to 3 years, but by “stacking” sentences and making them run consecutive, the judge gave me 32 -1/2 years! I’m 72 years old right now, and my release date is 2033. What sense does that make?

I’m classified as a “numerical lifer,” that is a person who does not have a life sentence, but is unlikely to live long enough to be released. In 2033, if I live that long, I’ll be 87 years old! I was 56, healthy, vigorous, and at the peak of my career, when this all started. Now I’m an old man, taking dozens of pills every day to stay alive, whose thriving business and life were destroyed by a pack of lies and nonsense, a prominent photographer who has not been allowed to touch a camera in twelve years.

The prosecution offered me a plea bargain of ten years, but I would have to plead guilty. I am not guilty and refuse to say otherwise. Later, he offered five years. but, again, contingent on pleading guilty. I simply would never do that. I have never in my life physically harmed anyone, and have never had sex with any woman without her consent. I have high moral standards, and have lived my life by them, and will stay in prison rather than compromise what I believe in. So here I sit on a hard bunk in a 9 X 12 room with cold metal walls, waiting and hoping for justice.

I’ve had proof for years that the medical testimony that put me here was false. The Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia says so, and so does Dr. Cyril Wecht, the dean of American pathologists. The “expert testimony” of the prosecution’s witnesses was, to be polite, garbage. But the jury of small town folk accepted it and ignored me and my witnesses. They voted not on the evidence, but on their own prejudices against a man who took erotic photographs. It was a modern day witch trial. The judge called my photography, which the prosecution gleefully projected up to giant size in the courtroom wall, the worst pornography he’d ever seen. Obviously, he’d never surfed the Internet! But he said all he knew about computers was how to turn his on.

Most of the photos and videos presented in evidence were private photos and videos Marion and I created for ourselves. None were intended for publication or distribution, none showed actual sexual activity, and none were ever published or publicly displayed except on the wall of that courtroom. My and Marion’s privacy was grossly invaded. And the photos were not illegal or evidence of anything illegal.

If you want to read the Chief Medical Examiner’s statements, I’ve posted the interview with him and lots of details on one of my websites: www.bobshelltruth.com.

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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.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-no-nudes-is-good-news/

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, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Men, Models, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Studio News: Recent Vintage Print Sales

Recent Sales

 

 

STUDIO NEWS:

A pair of limited edition vintage prints from the archives of Tony Ward have been purchased for $5500.00 by a wine connoisseur based in Geneva, Switzerland. Caress. New York, 1997, a vintage gelatin silver print in the size of 16 x 20 recently sold for $3000.00.  Surrogate. New York, 1997, was sold for $2500.00. 

For information regarding print sales contact: tony@tonyward.com

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A.H. Scott: The Spartacus Effect

Whistleblower. Photo by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by A. H. Scott, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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THE SPARTACUS EFFECT

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If a person says ‘perfect call’ a thousand times, all memory of the past six months will be erased for every man, woman, child, and household pet in the United States of America.

But, a certain person calling it a ‘perfect’ call won’t make the sow’s ear a silk purse. Or, even dissuade the march of history’s footsteps straight into the Oval Office.

Whistleblower files a complaint. Corroborator confirms complaint. Impeacher articulates articles of the corroborated complaint that has been filed.

Thus, the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump becomes the next chapter in the history of the United States of America.

The President and his GOP allies go on and on about needing to unmask the whistleblower. But, the fact is that the whistleblower is just a thimble. Yet, it is all who have corroborated the information surrounding the entire “Ukraine” situation which have transformed into an ocean seemingly about to drown the Presidency of Donald J. Trump.

And there with a glint in his eye and a smirk upon his face in front of cheering crowds across the USA, a putrid performance roars onward with little pushback. But, not so fast I say to the furious crew:

Trump/GOP – Where is the one who knows what happened?

Person #1 – I am here!

Trump/GOP – Whistleblower!

Person #2 – I am here!

Person #3 – Me, too! I am here!

Trump/GOP – Whistleblower!

Persons #4,5,6, and etc. – I am here!

And, the Spartacus effect rises, as the target which is seen by Trump and his allies metastasize from one to all who have seen the actions from the Oval Office.

By focusing on ‘whistleblower’, the President and his barking acolytes miss the forest of a fiasco by his own making from the trees of truth, justice and patriotism for the National Security of the people of the United States of America who are the courageous corroborators.

These men and women stand up; not seeking the limelight, but in a sense of aversion to it. They are not household names that are on the tips of the American public’s tongues. Yet, in the field of foreign policy, they are experts in navigating the choppy tides of international diplomacy.

The American people are not fools, although there are certain politicians who wish and assume we are. Most of us are just trying to live our lives in peach with family, friends and work. Yet, when Donald J. Trump goes off the rails of common decency time and time again, there are those who find a way of apologizing for what he and those around him does.

Ordering the whistleblower’s head to be handed to him on a silver platter sounds like a monarch making a proclamation that should be unquestioned and obeyed, rather than the President of the United States of America.

When acting-White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tosses down the verbal gauntlet of ‘get over it’ during a White House News conference when speaking about the back channel dealings of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Guiliani involving the Ukraine imbroglio; he admits what Donald Trump has done in holding the congressionally approved aid over Ukraine President Zelensky’s head like Damaches’ sword in exchange for concocting an investigation into the 2016 Presidential Election and possible 2020 Presidential opponent, Joseph R. Biden.

I am Whistleblower!

I am blowing the whistle on the crap storm that is the consistently, churning conspiracy cauldron where the craven Trump, Guiliani, and many others marinate within.

Blow, Whistle, Blow!!

Donald J. Trump – “Where is my Roy Cohn?

Just thinking about a person in a position of unbridled power seeming to need any other being’s assistance to maintaining his perch might to some come off as a sign of a person less strong than he thumps his chest to be.

Alas, if the aforementioned is that descending reality, then a question can be pondered in homage to Trumbo’s triumph.

Unknown American Citizen – “Where is our Spartacus?”

I, as one of those citizens have an answer: “WE are SPARTACUS!”

We are Spartacus!

Every time we raise our voice in dissent!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we vote!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we fight for fairness!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we hold those in power accountable!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we express our thanks to the men and women who speak truth to power!

We are Spartacus!

Every time we unite behind the Constitution!

Wow, suddenly everyone is a Latin scholar in saying the term ‘quid pro quo’, like its’ the latest dance craze or a new pop tune.

If it means “this for that”, then even those who are defending the entirety of the actions of the President, are living the ‘quid pro quo’ themselves; for they are doing THIS FOR THAT!

If the quid is this, then THIS is your soul.

If the pro is for, then FOR what/who/why you do what you do

If quo is that, then THAT is how much my soul was worth to stand with Donald J. Trump.

I say to them all, I truly hope HE was worth it, though.

QUID PRO QUO!

Blow, whistle, blow!!

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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 Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-elevation/

 

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Gilles Berquet: I’ll Be Your Mirror

Exhibition Announcement: Paris

PRESS RELEASE:

Gilles Berquest: I’ll be your mirror

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43 rue de Montmorency – 45003 Paris, France

Du 2 au 30 Novembre 2019

vernissage le samedi 2 a partir de 16hr

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Bob Shell: Political Correctness

The Kiss. Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Political Correctness

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I’ve never been a particularly politically correct person. I’ve lived my life my way, caring little for the prevailing winds of intellectual fashion. Today I learned of something that really takes the cake as far as PC nonsense is concerned.

We’ve all seen the famous photo of a serviceman kissing a nurse in New York City on VJ day, the day the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II. It was a nationwide block party, with everyone carried away in jubilation. The serviceman didn’t know the nurse, actually a dental hygeinist, and his girlfriend was a bystander. He and his girlfriend were later married, and their marriage lasted until his death recently at age 95. The dental hygeinist died last year. A statue was erected in Florida a while back based on the.photo to commemorate the event. Now that statue has been vandalized with graffiti as a protest because the woman was kissed without her consent. She was interviewed multiple times, and always said she didn’t mind the kiss.

We must beware of applying today’s standards to events in the past.

The only time I’ve experienced public jubilation like that of VJ day was when I had the serendipity to be in Bonn, Germany, on October 3, 1990, German Reunification Day. I left the apartment where I was staying and went out into the streets to experience this truly once-in-a-lifetime event. I had steins of good German beer pressed on me from all sides. People were dancing in the streets and singing the German National Anthem, Deutschland uber Alles (Germany over All), at the tops of their lungs. Men were kissing women, women were kissing women, men were kissing men, and I was right in the middle of it all. I was kissed a few times and no one asked my consent. And did I care? Absolutely not! The joy was infectious, and I let myself flow with it and into it. I got very drunk that night, and I suspect, so did the New York crowds on VJ Day. So why spoil that infectious joy all these years later? If you weren’t there, you’ve no right to criticize.

The trend to apply today’s standards to people and events of the past is very disturbing. People and events of the past must be judged by their own contemporary standards. Measured by the societal mores of today, just about every hero of the past will come up wanting. We wouldn’t have this country today if not for men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington. Patrick Henry, and so many others who wouldn’t pass muster today. But they were creatures of their times, and outstanding thinkers who fought for the freedoms most take for granted today. They did things totally unacceptable today, like suppress women and own slaves. In the modern world their behavior would be contemptible, but they were. creatures of their times.

Probably, most of us will be very much out of sync with the mores and standards seventy-four years hence. Will people of 2093 judge us by the standards of their day? I certainly hope not.

My several times great grandfather, Hugh McCracken, was a Virginia farmer. He wasn’t wealthy, but he got by. When Virginia was invaded by Union troops at the beginning of the “Civil War” he joined the 36th.Virginia Infantry to defend his homeland. Was he wrong to do so? When Virginia joined the Union, she reserved the right to leave at any time. When she decided to exrrcise that clause and leave the Union, she had as much right to do so as Britain today has to leave the European Union. I don’t expect to see Brussels sending EU troops across the Channel to force Britain back into the European Union, but that’s exactly what Lincoln did.

Luckily for me Grandfather McCracken survived the war and returned to his farm to raise a family, or I wouldn’t be here today. I’ve read his war diary, and it’s horrible. He describes scenes of dead men and horses scattered across the landscape and streams running red with their blood, and having to drink from streams with bodies in them because it was the only water. I’m proud of him for defending his home against invaders, and resent anyone portraying him as anything but a brave patriot. Would he stand up well if judged by today’s standards, more than 150 years later? Probably not, but he stands up heroic by the standards of his day, and I’m proud to be his descendant. To hell with political correctness!

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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.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-social-security-slavery-etc/

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, commentary, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Film, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life