Category Archives: Models

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, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Men, 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

Also posted in Advertising, Announcements, Art, Cameras, Environment, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Gifts, Glamour, History, lifestyle, Nudes, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: No Nudes is Good News

Topless. Photo by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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No Nudes is Good News

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As far as the Virginia Dept. of Corrections is concerned, that is. They came out with a new OP (Operating Procedure) a couple years ago, banning all nudity in publications, with no exceptions. The OP bans any depiction (photo, drawing, painting, sculpture, even cartoon) of a female human breast unless it has a “fully opaque covering” of the nipple and areola. Huh? Yep, you read that right. Isn’t it illegal to discriminate based on sex? But bare male breasts, like Vladimir Putin’s, are OK. And what about the breasts of a hermaphrodite, or a transgender person, born with male genitals, but through hormones or surgery has fully developed breasts? What about men with gynacomasty, who just develop large breasts for no known reason? Like most things they do, the DOC issued this OP without thinking it through. I’m particularly affected by this policy because it prohibits me from having copies of most of my own photographs and most of the books I wrote. A friend tried to send me a copy of my Pro Guide: Mamiya Medium Format Camera Systems and it was disallowed due to one small bare breasted photo in which the breasts in question were tiny. Must have gone through the book with a magnifying glass looking for nipples or areolae! How silly! I saw the actual breasts when I took the picture and it’s now going to harm me in some way to see the photo years later???

And, when they find a single offending picture, they don’t black it out or cut it out, they disapprove the entire publication. This in spite of the Supreme Court saying that books and other publications must be considered as a whole, and not disapprove for a single image.

Thankfully, the Virginia ACLU has gotten involved on behalf of the American Humanist Association because an issue of the American Humanist magazine was prohibited for containing a famous painting of Adam and Eve by Peter Paul Rubens, one of the great old masters of art. The lawsuit over this is currently in federal court.

For any Virginia agency to prohibit showing of bare breasts is particularly silly because the official Great Seal of Virginia has depicted the Amazon warrior goddess Virtus, whose tunic bares her left breast, since 1776! This seal appears on all Virginia Governmental stationery, including the DOC’s, as well as on the state flag, calendars, signs, guard badges, and. in numerous other places. Am I supposed to avert my eyes from all these things lest I be harmed in some unstated way? Must the state stop using its official seal on anything that might find it’s way into a DOC facility?

Has exposure to this bare breast driven all Virginia politicians mad? The whole thing is just stupid and silly!

When I first came into the DOC system eleven years ago, you could subscribe to Playboy, Penthouse, etc., and they showed us “adult” movies on the TVs. Since then they’ve grown more and more prudish and puritanical. But those are religious proscriptions based on perverted misogynist versions of Christianity to which I do not subscribe. My personal religion contains no such proscriptions. Does the DOC have the right to shove their religion down my throat?

If you think I sound angry about this, you’re right. I’m sick and tired of having my magazines disapproved because someone thinks they can see a tit! Just this week I had the latest Rolling Stone disapproved for nudity. I subscribe to Rolling Stone to keep up on music and politics, not for the chance to glimpse Lady Gaga’s nipples. That’s why one issue was disapproved. She was covered, but the blouse wasn’t “fully opaque,” and with a lot of imagination you might have just made out a nipple. I know this because disapproved magazines go to the DOC’s Publication Review Committee and in that case I got the magazine after they approved it — months later! Not much good for a news magazine! Most magazines disapproved at the institutional level are eventually given to me, but the process is slow. I did eventually get three issues of Rangefinder,, but not until a year later. So much for new product news.

Apparently the people who wrote this policy have an unhealthy breast fixation. Were they all bottle fed as babies? There’s something very wrong with a person who cannot look at a bare breast without being consumed by deviant thoughts, and assumes that everyone else is just as perverted. Human breasts are natural, normal, and beautiful. These people should visit European beaches, as I have, where bare breasts are proudly displayed, or just public parks and walking trails where encountering nude hikers, male and female, doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. Even in stodgy old England there are public nude beaches dating back to Victorian times. I know because I’ve been there. What’s the big deal about nudity, anyway? Were these folks born fully clothed in opaque fabric? Equating all nudity with sexual titillation is just plain sick!

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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-political-correctness/

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, commentary, Current Events, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, Men, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

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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Also posted in Advertising, Affiliates, Announcements, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Erotica, Exhibitions, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, Men, News, Nudes, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel

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