Diana Desiderio: Night Swim

Portrait of Diana Desiderio by Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

Text by Diana Desiderio, Copyright 2021

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

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2006 is feeling closer and further from me everyday. I was wrestling professionally on PPV, a guest on the Howard Stern show and I had finally done an amazing shoot with Tony Ward for Hustlers Taboo magazine. Things for a then 24 years old me were happening. I didn’t have a set career or any clue as to what direction I was going to go. That’s what you do in your 20’s. Aimlessly going on with life as it was coming, just riding the wave. July of that year had made everything stop when my older sister had passed away that summer in a car wreck. The devastation hit me harder than one could ever imagine. I wiped out off of that wave I was riding and found myself over the next five years slowly sinking to the bottom of the abyss that was called life. Self destruction quickly set in. I had left wrestling; was being over medicated with psych drugs, which led me to my journey of self medicating which led to a full blown narcotic addiction. 

Rock bottom is a lonely place, but a perfect place when your down, hopeless and out. I had managed to push everyone and anyone that ever gave a damn away. Undoing all that I was working for or towards. That’s how quickly you can rise and fall. When your young, things are there for the taking and you just take it all for granted. Why not, it’s all right there being handed to you hand over fist. And I took it all, but when my life was hit by tragedy I was 100% accountable for letting it all go to ruin. I don’t regret facing those bad times. Talking about it and doing what it took to get through them. Putting in the work and getting help so that I can get the real me back to myself. It’s not easy and for everyone. I had to realize I was meant for so much more; that I deserved way better than what I was encountering. By this time, December 2011; I was 29. And I signed myself in at a rehab facility voluntarily and got the long awaited help I needed. I chose life. Coming back into the world after being down so damn long is surreal.  You are not only relearning who you are organically; but releasing the demon that carried you through the darkness and didn’t want to let you go. Life feels like a night swim; alone and bare allowing the universe to see every bit of you. Raw, exposed and unapologetic. 

I worked really hard through the years trying to figure out what direction I wanted to take in my life. Not many people who go where I’ve gone get to live to fight another day. I also had faced a new struggle with body image issues. I was no longer a 20 something thin model type. I was healthy, but I let my physicality go as I was more focused on staying the course of the straight and narrow instead of looking at all of me and keeping on top of myself. I needed to find a purpose again. I needed to continue the work. It was time to manifest change across the board.

In 2015, a lifelong film producer friend of mine offered to host me for a visit to her L.A. home. At that point life went stagnant and I needed a reset. While visiting, she had gotten a quick commercial gig for a popular money app we are all familiar with today and asked if I wanted to make a few bucks being a Production Assistant. Going on runs, being on set, supporting the big wigs. In the freelance film industry; you take the work when it comes but on your own terms. This had my attention right away. Take as much work as you want, make your own schedule, and gain a career without having to drop 100k on film school?! SIGN ME UP. I saw if you worked hard and put the time in this could blossom into the career for me.

I came home from my trip to SoCal and decided that this was an opportunity that I could not turn down. 33 years old, I packed up and drove across country with hopes that this could be my shot. It was. I’ve worked with recognizable names; commercials, short films, still work and music videos. I had worked hard and made my way up from a PA, grabbing Directors coffee and running errands to a Production Supervisor. Being a Production Manager/Supervisor you are the center of the universe of a shoot. You prep the job by getting everything all the crews need in order to support the Directors creativity so that we can make the project come to life, while hiring the crew and vendors as well.

It is all a chaotic world until we actually get up to the day of shoot; that’s where I can focus on the accounting aspects for the company and start pulling all the behind the scenes elements together.  There’s no business like show business. It’s 24/7, and thankless at times. It would be a lie to tell you something was missing for me out there in LaLaLand. I’m East Coast born and raised. Home was calling. 

I had arrived back home to Philadelphia on New Years Eve 2018. Humbled, harmonious and able to continue everything I had worked so very hard for in my career, I was welcomed with open arms in the city of brotherly love. It’s been a crazy journey to say the least, life’s been give and take; times are up and down. Whenever I feel like I start to lose myself again; I try to remember who I am during that night swim; raw, exposed and unapologetic. And keep going.

About The Author: Diana Desiderio  is a motion picture production manager based in Philadelphia.

Bob Shell: Nudes in National Parks

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

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Nudes in National Parks

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One of my friends was the late Galen Rowell, mountaineer/photographer.

At one of the NANPA conferences (North American Nature Photographers Association, of which we were both founding members), we were just kibitzing about different things. The subject of the ‘Nude in Nature’ photography workshops I’d been conducting for years came up. 

I don’t know if our conversation spurred it or if his inspiration came from elsewhere, but Galen took on the subject in one of his regular monthly columns in Outdoor Photographer magazine. He was unprepared for the firestorm of outrage he created by suggesting that the nude was a valid subject to be photographed in our national parks. The magazine was deluged with angry letters, he told me. 

That struck me as very strange, since some of our finest photographers from Edward Weston on photographed nudes in national parks. At the time Galen wrote about it there was no rule against nude photography in National Parks. I don’t know if there is now. 

When I first got the idea for my workshops, I contacted the National Park Service about conducting them in one of our national parks. Basically, they didn’t say ‘No,’ but made it clear I’d be bogged down in bureaucratic BS if I pursued the idea. So I gave up on the idea and put it on a back burner. 

I won’t go into detail here, but ultimately I discovered that the bureaucratic paperwork load was much more manageable with state parks. That’s why I ended up holding my workshops in The Valley of Fire State Park, northwest of Las Vegas next to Lake Mead. I had to carry insurance indemnifying the State of Nevada for one million dollars in liability, but since I was only buying it for two days it wasn’t very expensive. Then I had to pay into Workman’s Comp. for the models, even though they weren’t my employees. That was expensive, but, again because it was only for two days, I got most of it back at the end of the year. Then there were forms after forms to fill out, but I managed and held successful workshops there annually through 2002. 

It was worth the hassle to photograph beautiful nudes in those gorgeous settings. 

My arrest forced me to cancel my planned 2003 workshop there. Even though I was ‘free’ on bond, the court would not allow me to leave Virginia. 

Why are so many people in this country so hostile to nudes, in nature or anywhere else? I don’t have all the answers. 

Part, I think, is that this is basically still a Puritan country. We tout our First Amendment right to freedom of expression, but tend to freak out if that expression includes nudity. 

When I was Editor of SHUTTERBUG magazine, our headquarters were in Titusville, Florida. For those not familiar with the area, Titusville is right across the Indian River from Cape Canaveral, where NASA’s launch facilities are located. 

North of the Kennedy Space Center is Canaveral Seashores National Park. For many years the most northern part of these beaches was traditionally a nude beach. People went there to enjoy the ocean and the beach au naturelle. They bothered no one. 

Some of the local ‘Christian’ churches got all in a dither over it, and got the county to pass an ordinance forbidding nudity on the beaches. Beside the road leading to the beaches they erected a big sign forbidding nudity. 

My response was to photograph a nude model leaning against the sign. Such idiotic nonsense! 

When I told my doctor about this nonsense, he commented that he’d known far more people harmed by not seeing nude bodies. 

If I’d stuck to photographing still life and landscapes, which make up the bulk of my photography, and not photographed nudes, particularly ‘erotic’ and ‘fetishistic’ nudes, I’d probably still have my freedom. I’m in prison because the judge and jury were offended by my nude photographs, pure and simple. I broke no laws, never had criminal intent, contributed in no way to my girlfriend’s death, but offending community standards was what got me put away. That’s America today.

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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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/alien-artifacts-fungus-on-mars/

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.

Bob Shell: In Praise of Ecdysiasts

Portrait of Miko by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

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In Praise of Ecdysiasts

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Because I spent more than thirty-five years photographing nudes, I appreciate people comfortable in their skin. Ecdysiasts are people, usually female but also male, who make their living taking off their clothing to music, strippers in common parlance, but also modern dancers. 

I found my best photography models from among their ranks. It’s not that I specifically sought out strippers, that’s just how it turned out. In the pre-Internet days I found my models in two ways, advertisements in college newspapers, and word of mouth. I don’t remember how many times I’d have a model in my studio for a shoot, and after the photo session she’d say, “I have this friend…” I always told her to invite the friend in with her next time for a test. In several cases these friends turned out to be better models than the original woman. This was particularly the case with dancers, and dance students who tended to have other dancers/dance students for friends. 

The other best models I found were naturists, commonly called nudists. There was a naturist camp near Richmond, Virginia, called ‘Whitetail Park’ where I must say all the tails I saw were nicely tanned, and I found a number of very good models. It may still be there, but I’ve been unable to travel since 2003. I also found a large nudist colony in Cologne, Germany, beside the Rhine River right across from the Koln Messe, the giant exhibition halls where international trade shows used to be held, and found models there when I was in Germany. 

After the rise of the Internet, I found most models through my own website (bobshell.com) and sites like OneModelPlace and ModelMayhem. 

The other way I found models was referrals from other photographers. My late friend Johnny Meeks of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, referred a number of very good models to me. Johnny was the original drummer for the Allman Brothers, whom he met while in art school in Sarasota, but turned from music to photography. 

Now, before anyone calls me a sexist for concentrating on photographing women, I’ll say that I also photographed a few men, but I find the more rounded contours of the female body more attractive photographically. 

I always paid my models well, even when I was first starting out and had little money myself. I also kept scrupulous records, keeping signed model releases in a file of everyone who ever modeled for me. After my arrest in 2003, the police had access to those releases, which have name, address, and Social Security number, and tried for more than four years to find anyone who’d ever modeled for me with anything negative to say about me. My models never felt exploited, and a number are friends today. 

I’ve photographed nudes in Virginia, Illinois, Louisiana, California, Nevada, Maine, Florida, etc., and internationally in England, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Japan. In every case I honored whatever the local laws were, but the USA is the most restrictive, allowing me to only photograph women eighteen and older. 

My career as a photographer was cut short by my conviction in 2007, based on testimony the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia says was, “Just wrong!” Once I’m out of here and free again, I plan to renew my career. I’m full of repressed ideas for photos.

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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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonyward.com/cosmic_dance/

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.

A.H. Scott: Teddy Bare

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020
 

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Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2020
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Teddy Bare
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Mary used her key that Teddy gave her to pop into his house when he wasn’t there to enjoy his pool in the back.
White dress with black buttons was quickly undone, as Mary peeled off blush colored bra and panty.
She knew he would be home soon and took a quick swim to cool off.  
Coming to the shallow end of the pool, she pulled herself partially onto the deck.
Resting her head atop of her arms on the edge of the pool, Mary closed her eyes with her legs lightly brushing against the Italian marble so cool.
Teddy had arrived to his home about ten minutes earlier and changed out of his boring attire into something frisky for this sunny afternoon in August.
Teddy bare was a pleasant sight out of the corner of Mary’s eye, as he dove into the opposite end of the pool.
Little was a splash made as his sights were set upon her.
Mary closed her eyes again and called out to the swimmer approaching her, “Teddy, how was your day?”
Coming closer to where she was, Teddy was eager to reply, “Better now to have your luscious body beaming beneath the sun’s rays”.
Mary was no fool, as she perched herself slightly outside of the waterline of that pool. Her ass was like a peach on the horizon of a ripple of water.
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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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Teddy had hands quite sizable, which Mary enjoyed in any kind of variable on her body.
That first touch of fingers making contact with her hips made Mary murmur a bit.
Scooping upward around both breasts, Teddy’s hands massaged each nipple slowly and pressed his body inside of her from behind.
Inside of Mary’s flower, she welcomed every insertion of this man’s desire.
Yet, this woman had her own sense of power in being with him.
Natural slip and slide of mutual inches of expanding pride were setting off sparks in the shallow end of that pool.
Teddy’s hands caressed her moist ass with adoring care, as Mary’s palms playfully drummed out a beat against the edge of that pool.
So good it was, as she made her move on him with measured pace of motioning herself around in that water to face this lusty man of this house.
Their eyes met as did their flesh again and again. Water moved between them with every point of contact, as intensity and serenity filled their gazes.
Tongues teased one another; with his tip racing along right side of her neck and soft kisses she was giving to his left cheek and parallel pectoral.
Feeling him inside of her, Mary’s soul pulsated with that headiness of horniness that she rarely revealed to anyone.
As for Teddy, he was a man consumed with pleasure in being with a woman who knew what she needed and expressed herself as wanting in fulfillment.
Locomotion of push and pull was theirs in that water, as Mary’s arms and legs wrapped around Teddy’s body.
Trickle of culmination, confidence and care came in satisfaction’s exhalation and roaring enthrallment in that pool area.
On a sun-drenched afternoon in August that was delightfully beyond compare, Mary expressed her deepest gratitude to Teddy bare.
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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020
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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://tonywarderotica.com/onehundredthousand/
 

Picture of the Day: Ike’s Study

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020
 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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Ike’s Study

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I visited Ike Hay at his home on many occasions.  He was a great teacher of art and design at Millersville University where we first met when I was an undergraduate student from 1974 to 1977. I took several classes with him as he was a great teacher of art and design.  Ike’s first love was sculpture, but he had other interests as well.  Ike was a collector of Empire furniture and a significant amount of his scholarship was defined by his love for French culture, especially French antiquities and an emphasis on the history of Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French military leader and emperor of France. Ike’s study was a place where we often chatted about art and also life. He became a lifelong friend and confidant until his untimely passing in 2014 at the age of 69.  When I began the project of a book of Tableaux Vivants,  I selected Ike’s study as one of the nostalgic places I wanted to photograph because of my longstanding friendship with Ike and his family. So one summer day in 1994, I packed up my gear with models in tow and traveled from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he lived with his wife Teri and his daughters Miraya and Mistral. On this particular occasion I decided to shoot in black and white and in color, an unusual departure for me at the time. 

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To see selected works from the book of Tableaux Vivants, click herehttps://tonyward.com/early-work/tableaux-vivants-1993-2000/