Behind The Scenes: Kareem Black Feature


Behind The Scenes: Kareem Black Feature

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Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

BTS Photography: Steve Feldman, Copyright 2024

BTS Video: Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2024

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I’ll never forget when I first met Kareem Black in 1997. He was a student at SVA School of Visual Arts in New York. While finishing up his photography training at SVA he made an appointment to visit me at my studio in Philadelphia to ask my advice on becoming a professional photographer.  He often reminds me that I was the first real photographer that he met. During one of his visits, I asked him to model for a picture for an upcoming book, called Tableaux Vivant’s. The picture is one of my favorites from the book, of which Kareem received a copy during his visit.

Kareem Black in The Figure. From Tony Ward's book of Tableaux Vivants
The Figure. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024.

Our meeting had an impact because when he left SVA and started a career as a pro, he took off! Kareem and I have stayed in touch remarkably 25 years later, and this month of May 2024 I’ve decided to reach out and celebrate his success by inviting back to his home town for a feature shoot.  Kareem was thrilled.  So was I and the results of the cover shoot speaks for itself.

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To access more behind the scenes with photographer Kareem Black, check out our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/0UEYAERF1IM

Technology: VR and Shadow Boxing

A woman standing in a Paris park at night with shorts and fishnet stockings wearing VR glasses while shadowboxing
Shadow Boxing. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Virtual Reality and Shadow Boxing

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Photography and Set Design: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Creative Direction: KVaughn

Lighting Assistant: Anthony Colagreco

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In recent years, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has made significant strides in revolutionizing the way we approach exercise and fitness. One particularly exciting application of VR in this realm is the development of boxing programs designed to provide users with engaging and effective workouts. As of the latest information available, VR headsets equipped with immersive boxing simulations offer users a dynamic and entertaining way to improve cardiovascular health, enhance agility, and build strength.

The latest VR headsets boast advancements in display resolution, refresh rates, and tracking accuracy, providing users with a highly immersive and realistic experience. With improved ergonomics and comfort features, these headsets ensure that users can engage in extended workout sessions without discomfort or fatigue. Additionally, the integration of motion tracking technology enables precise and responsive gameplay, allowing users to execute punches, blocks, and dodges with fluidity and accuracy.

In terms of boxing programs specifically, developers have introduced a variety of VR experiences tailored to different fitness levels and preferences. Whether users are looking for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, skill-based drills, or immersive boxing simulations, there is a diverse range of programs available to cater to their needs. These programs often incorporate gamification elements, such as leaderboards, achievements, and progress tracking, to motivate users and enhance their overall experience.

One notable aspect of VR boxing programs is their ability to simulate real-world training scenarios and environments. Users can spar with virtual opponents of varying difficulty levels, practice combinations on punching bags, or engage in shadowboxing routines in immersive virtual arenas. The dynamic nature of these simulations keeps users challenged and engaged, making workouts more enjoyable and effective.

Moreover, VR boxing programs offer a level of accessibility and convenience that traditional gym settings may lack. Users can engage in workouts from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating barriers such as travel time, gym memberships, or equipment availability. This accessibility makes VR boxing programs particularly appealing to individuals with busy schedules or those who prefer exercising in a private environment.

In addition to physical benefits, VR boxing programs also offer mental and emotional rewards. The immersive nature of VR experiences allows users to escape from their surroundings and immerse themselves fully in the workout, reducing stress and increasing mindfulness. Furthermore, the sense of achievement and progression gained from mastering new skills or achieving fitness goals can boost confidence and self-esteem.

Overall, the latest developments in VR headsets and boxing programs for exercise represent an exciting frontier in fitness technology. With their combination of immersive gameplay, dynamic workouts, and accessibility, VR boxing programs have the potential to revolutionize the way we approach fitness and exercise, making workouts more engaging, effective, and enjoyable for users of all ages and fitness levels.

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A woman standing in a Paris park at night with shorts and fishnet stockings wearing VR glasses
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Behind The Scenes: March Cover Shoot 2024


Text by Tony Ward

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BTS: Steve Feldman, Copyright 2024

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I first learned about Lileet and her modeling interests when she started following me on Instagram. After looking over her IG @lileet_miriam  I followed her back. Not long after the initial contact I decided to invite her to be photographed for The Vixen’s Series. Her response was brimming with enthusiasm and eager to set up a shoot date. She mentioned that she was going to be in Philadelphia for a party with her husband on 2-24-24. I thought that was a lucky number and suggested that we figure a way to shoot on that day before she went to the party. We settled on “the lucky date” and that she would be arriving at around 10:30am for hair & Makeup and to meet with KVaughn, creative director to discuss the photographic styling  and flow of the two hour shoot.

The husband and wife of 12 years (impressive by most standards these days) took the 2 hour ride from their home in New York only to arrive a little early. I already had the coffee on and some snacks, but I didn’t expect a request for champagne.  I guess Lileet and her husband knew this would be day worth celebrating. So I ran off to the nearby state store for a couple of bottles of Corbel.  Bottles  were popped and the mood was set.  The champagne was finished by the end of the shoot. Everybody was in a good mood.  KVaughn directed  Tara through a medley of costume changes including personal items from her wardrobe like the corsets she loves to wear mixed in with some of KVaughn most eye popping fabrics. For the  grand crescendo, KV would paste on blue costume jewels over her Tara’s spectacular naked torso! That was a tough shot to frame, just kidding!!

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Relaxing after the shoot. Photo: KVaughn

Tony Ward: Highlight of Summer 2021

Thunderbirds in the sky in Atlantic City July 2021
Thunderbirds. Atlantic City, NJ. August 18th, 2021

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

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Highlight of Summer 2021

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Like most of us I too am looking forward to leaving 2021 behind.  It was another year of Covid to contend with not to mention the economic, social and political  turmoil its caused.  For a moment though on August 18th, 2021, a mid point of the year seemed to have reached a peak. Not for a spike of new covid cases.  No . This peak was one of fun and pure joy as hundreds of thousands of people journeyed to the Jersey shore for the annual Atlantic City Airshow. It was definitely my favorite highlight of the summer.

My son Julian Ward came up with the idea of attending the airshow. He planned the perfect place to meet up with family and friends. Julian carefully choreographed where we were to meet on the beach in front of Bally’s Beach Bar and BBQ. It was a sunny day in the open air with a slight breeze.  Not a soul was wearing a mask. It was perfect weather to enjoy an assortment of old and new airplanes including our newest fighter jets maneuvers  thrilling the crowd with surgical precision. 

I shot the footage of this video clip using a combination of my I-Phone and a Sony mirrorless RX100V mirrorless camera. Julian edited the clip brilliantly in I-Movie.   The Thunderbirds of course were my favorite. This clip is a most see. Enjoy!

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Tony Ward in Atlantic City with daughter Racquel and son Julian Ward
Tony Ward with two of his children, Racquel and Chanel Ward. August 18th, 2021.

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About The Author: Tony Ward is the publisher and editor of Tony Ward Studio blog. 

Ted Kawalerski: That Vitiligo Guy

Portrait of that vitiligo guy, Jame McLeod
James McLeod. Photo: Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2021

Text by Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2021

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James McLeod: That Vitiligo Guy

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When I walked through the doors, I immediately heard this supersonic voice above the constant noise of gym rats working out.  It was really crowded so I couldn’t immediately pick out the source.

After hitting the locker room, I was ready to start my ritual – the one that has kept me close to sanity for thirty years. Now I’m hearing that voice  again and it’s really close. I see him from the back – a super fit black guy who’s training a young woman and without question she is responding because the guy has the gift. He’s got the mojo – he knows how to get into your head. All of a sudden he turns around as though he knows that I was checking him out. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO HIM? Was he in a fire? Did someone throw acid on his face? He turned back to his client and continued the workout.

I continued mine as well but I couldn’t stop thinking about that face. He would move around the gym and greet people in an incredibly uplifting way. You could not help but like the guy. Over the next few weeks I got to know him better and eventually we became good friends. I spoke with my two partners, Gene Mayer and Matt Stanton, and we decided to make a short film about him.

This meeting happened several years ago and I am still stunned by this man’s life and by the way he crawled out of a sewer and ultimately won the game with a shitty hand.  His childhood was a mess and he gravitated to selling drugs. This ultimately led to a five year federal prison term for trafficking.  It’s hard to imagine, but he turned this all around and became a motivational speaker and author of children’s books. I’m a photographer and director – I’ve met many people in my forty year career – James McLeod, That Vitiligo Guy, is right up there!!!

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Profile of Ted Kawalerski professional photographer

Photo: Brian Stanton, Copyright 2022

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To access interview with Ted Kawalerski by Tony Ward, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/ted-kawalerski-interview/

To access Ted Kawalerski’s website, click here: https://corkfactoryfilms.com