Category Archives: News

Bob Shell: The Digital Era

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Photo: Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

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The Digital Era

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Many of you reading this came of age in the digital photography era. Most likely you’ve never used, maybe never even seen, a film camera. My girlfriend Marion was like that. The first time I handed her a film camera she took a shot and then looked at the back of the camera to see the picture – which, of course, was not there! People who grew up with digital photography can’t imagine having to wait to see the pictures. When I first got started, unless you had a darkroom and developed and printed your own, you had to wait days to see your photos. When I had my first camera shop in the early 1970s we had our photofinishing done by a big commercial company called Colorcraft. Their courier picked up film from us every day and delivered the finished photos. As I recall, it took three or four days to get your pictures back. A bit later in the 70s came the innovation of next day delivery. People were amazed to get their pictures that fast. Next came the minilabs that pharmacies, grocery stores, and discount stores installed. Suddenly you could get your pictures back the same day! Some places even offered one hour service. The race was on to be the fastest, but quality was often lost in the rush. People got back poorly exposed or otherwise flawed pictures, and assumed it was their fault, never knowing they could have gotten good pictures from a better lab.

Today those big photofinishing companies are long gone, as are most of the smaller labs. The last lab in my area, run by an old friend of mine, closed at the end of 2018. People who still shoot film pretty much have to develop and print their own unless they live near one of the few labs still in business.

Kodak Alaris has just reintroduced Ektachrome 100 Professional in 35mm rolls and Super-8 cartridges. They must think there’s a market for it, but that leaves open the question of where to get it processed. (kodakalaris.com)

The Lomography people have recently introduced black and white Potsdam 100 and Berlin 400 films. These come in 35mm and 120 roll film sizes, and are “cut from old stocks of a cinematic emulsion, produced by a legendary German company.”. Available online from Lomography (www.lomography.com)

I don’t know much about the current Lomography company. I know they got their start selling a compact camera made by LOMO, Leningrad Optical and Mechanical Works, in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad in Soviet days) and turned that little camera into a cult object. They’ve expanded to selling a wide variety of photographic products. I’d guess that the “legendary German company” they refer to is Agfa. Apparently Agfa had large stocks of film on hand when they went out of the film business. Rollei was selling rebranded Agfa black and white film under their name for some time. In cold storage black and white film will still be good for many years. In a bit of sales hype, they say, “Steeped in a rich past and prestige, this mighty monochrome is not just a tribute to history — rather a part of it.”

I used to collect Soviet era cameras and lenses from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. While the little LOMO point and shoot, the LC-1 was nothing special, LOMO also made the only Russian-built professional camera, the Almas (Diamond in Russian). During the Cold War days, Soviet photographers were cut off from the Japanese professional cameras the rest of the world used. LOMO was tasked with the job of producing a camera for Soviet professional photographers. Superficially, the Almas looks like a Nikon F2, but on closer inspection is revealed as a unique camera. The removeable prism housing is styled like Nikon’s, as are the interchangeable focusing screens. The camera body looks like a Minolta and has a shutter that looks like a Copal, but is a unique LOMO design. To carry on the hybridization, the lens mount is Pentax K mount. The camera is very robustly built and most samples I’ve seen show considerable use. There is a connection on the bottom for a motor drive, but as far as I have been able to determine, that motor drive was never produced. The 50mm lens on my sample is excellent. It’s too bad that this noble experiment vanished when the Soviet Union collapsed and photographers in former Soviet republics gained access to cameras from the outside world. My Almas has no light meter, but there was a meter prism available in small quantities that is rare today. My Almas is the star of my collection of Soviet cameras.

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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. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-musical-instruments/

 

Also posted in Blog, Film, Men, Photography, Popular Culture

Katie Kerl: Picking up the Pieces

Digital Montage of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Digital Montage of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

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Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Picking up the Pieces

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Nothing heals a broken heart better then love and support from your
parents and friends. I’m very lucky and have the most down to earth
parental units out there. I have mentioned that a few times in past
articles, but this time my mother and father really outdid themselves.
 
Break ups are never easy. Getting your belongings back, half moving back into your place that you were using for storage, feeling drained, and endless explaining to people about what happened. After all of that, I do have a certain peace of mind knowing I made the right decision for my own happiness.
 
Now, previously I would have went out and tried to busy
myself serial dating, drinking, and not truly recovering. I did download all of the dating apps out of pure anger, but this time I couldn’t bring myself to meet anyone off of it.  It’s not a productive use of my time, or going to make me less angry . I got through my work day, did some yoga, and meal planned. That was about all I had the
energy for the last month.
 
So what changed? My ever praying mother came and helped me. My
father is my personality type and more of my best friend. He has always
listened to me over coffee, or glass of bourbon. Reiterating I do not
need a man to be happy, or take care of me. He said that was his job even in my
thirties. I’m forever grateful for everything he has done for me. I now
realize as an adult I could never have had it both ways with my parents.
Someone had to be the voice of reason and tell me no. My mother was
that parent.
 
She recently turned 60, and we had a really fun weekend celebrating. I
gave her a birthstone ring.  I also wrote down 60 reasons she is the best
mother, and put it in a pretty wooden box. I realized I never told her all
of those things I appreciate now growing up. Now she can hold onto that forever. 
 
I let her know I was struggling going through all my stuff at home, and
didn’t have the space for it all. She came for the weekend to help me. In four days she pulled everything out of the closets, kitchen cabinets, and storage.
She helped me create new spaces for all the stuff I had accumulated. I was floored, Marie Kondo has nothing on my mother. She turned my pantry into a shoe cabinet , and a piece of my entertainment unit for my bags. 
 
She also just listened to me with no judgment. I made dinner the one night , took her to my favorite brunch spot in my area called Morning Glory Diner,
we walked the Italian market , and did some vintage shopping here in
Philadelphia . I couldn’t have asked for a nicer weekend. I feel like a
complete human being again, and at home in my own place.
 
She will always be there to help pick up the pieces. Life does not get
any easier in your thirties; you will still need your mother. No one can get through life alone. She has never given up on me even in my most unlovable moments.
 
She really does not get why I like to go to Miami for my birthday, but
always goes shopping with me for it.  She gets  music sets me free, just like
getting tattooed does. My parents only want the best for me and that’s happiness. 
 
I hope everyone finds theirs as well.
 
– Kerl up with Kate
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About The AuthorKatie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology. Occupation: commercial/ residential  design Philadelphia resident since 2011 . Hobbies include: Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos & house music lover. Instagram:  @kerl_up_with_kateTo access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-you-dont-have-to-move-on-to-let-go/
 
Also posted in Blog, Photography, Popular Culture, Women

Katie Kerl: You Don’t Have to Move on to Let Go

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Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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You Don’t Have to Move on to Let Go

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Who would have thought I’d be quoting a Deadmau5/ Kaskade song at my age. Thirty five is slowly creeping up on me next month.

35.35?!?!  I’m supposed to have 2 kids, a husband, & the dog with the white picket fence right? 

Instead I’ll be celebrating my 35th at Miami music week. Yes, there are endless locations to pick for vacation. That’s just what I enjoy doing. It brings me inner peace.  Dancing my life away one week a year on my birthday, to some of the best house music you can find. Eating Cuban food and drinking Mojitoon the beach until my heart is content.  Sounds awful right? 

To some people that is actual torture. 

I’m sitting here a little high after a hot shower thinking, “What the fuck?” Taking the appropriate steps with someone in a relationship is what we dream about right? 

What happens when money and a dream of a different kind of life gets in the way? 

Believing in someone is one thing. Supporting their choices is another. Watching it change who they are is heartbreaking. Even if they don’t see it now, or do and will never admit it. Money with no meaning in is an empty feeling.

He said, “I wanted to give you everything.” I said, “All I wanted was you.”

In a world of fucked up dating, pretty vs. money, one would think finding someone who completely understands you would be ENOUGH

Think again. If you have to fight for the things you find important, and someone dismisses your concerns. It’s time to rip the bandage quickly. 

People do not change overnight ,or by accident. They change because something drastic happens. They change because they can’t go on living a lie. They change because the stressful world they live in has beaten them down. They change because life has become unmanageable. 

Finding yourself, and not letting go of who you are is just as important as chasing your dreams. I’ve mentioned it before; no one wants to feel dropped into someone else’s life and expected to act accordingly. Gold diggers want that. Not REAL women.

I never want to feel like I have to give up who I am , my hobbies , health , or views on family values for someone working themselves to death chasing money . 

Money won’t be there when you get sick, it’s not going to support you when you’re down, and it’s not going to make a home out of the house you live in. You’re supposed to grow as a couplelearn from each other,and accept problems as they arise,and address them together. 

If you are so busy taking care of everyone else around you that you forget to be good to yourself, of course you will feel mentally drained and used. A person’s presence will fill the room with joy, or it will suffocate you to the point you feel like you’re not going to make it up for air. 

Being single I feel completely free to be my ever weird self. If I let you in you’re special.  You’re adding to my happiness that took me so long to find. Once you start taking that away from me, I retreat and go back to doing exactly what makes me happy alone. 

Someone out there needed to hear this today. I know I did while typing it. I’m not quite sure if anyone is meant to be permanent in your life, or just come in and out to teach you lessons. 

To those who feel they cannot be alone. You truly become the person you are meant to be without any outside persuasion. If you’re stuck making that decision to stay or go, my grandmother always told me to list that person’s good and bad qualities, then make your decision based off that. 

Her system has yet to steer me wrong. I am going to continue to be myself. If I find that person to compliment my ever complicated life great! 

If not at least I am doing my best.

That’s more than enough for me. 

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Portrait of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Portrait of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

About The AuthorKatie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology .Occupation : commercial/ residential  design Philadelphia resident since 2011 . Hobbies include  : Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos , & house music lover . Instagram:  @kerl_up_with_kate.  To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: http://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-love-the-one-youre-with/

 

Also posted in Blog, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Racquel Ward: “Expo”

Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

“Expo” Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

Artwork and Text by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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This series entitled “Expo ” represents the rapidly growing body positive movement, which in recent years has challenged mainstream representations of beauty. In the U.S. and other western countries, thin white bodies served as the cornerstone for standards of beauty that most women, including many white women, could not and do not live up to. It is now fashionable, especially on social media platforms, to embrace real curves, cellulite and the “authentic” self with hashtags such as #beautybeyondsize and #thickthighssavelives. 

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Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

“Expo”Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

In the same vein, these sketches do not serve as a symbol for women who achieve this look via plastic surgery – another branch of beauty where women want African features but have failed to make it look authentic.

The “Expo” series was sketched with pencil and colored with expo markers. The artist’s choice of materials shows that anyone can make art with anything just as anyone can be beautiful with exactly what they have.

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Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

“Expo” Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book. To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-poor-me-home-alone-and-nuttin-to-do/

Also posted in Art, Blog, Erotica, Glamour, Hetero Love, Models, Popular Culture, Portraits, Women

Bob Shell: Why Radford?

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Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #35

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Letters  by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

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I have often been asked why I had my office/studio in Radford, VA, not exactly the center of culture..

In the mid 70s, after the near collapse of the US economy (caused by the infamous Arab oil embargo and other economic factors) wrecked my first camera shop, I worked for a year for Woolco Department Stores managing the camera department in one of their Roanoke stores. I didn’t like that job, because department managers didn’t really manage anything, and quit to take a job with Ritz camera in Blacksburg. When that didn’t work out (my selling style was to spend the time with the customer to find out what that person needed to buy to accomplish what they wanted to do, and sell them that. The regional manager said I was spending too much time with the customers!), I found myself working in the photo lab at Virginia Tech, where I’d gone to school. We developed and printed film shot by the two staff photographers, and when both of them were busy, I’d occasionally be asked to go out and shoot a “grip and grin” photo of the university President shaking hands with some visiting dignitary. But I wanted to be the photographer, not a lab rat in the basement, so after a year or so at this I left and took a job with Gentry Studio in Blacksburg. They were a combo of photo studio and camera shop, the perfect job for me.

I worked there for several years, honing my own photography skills in their studio after hours. I liked working there very much, but always had the itch to do my own thing. After all, even the best boss is still your boss, and I never liked working for other people. Gentry Studios had three locations, Salem, Blacksburg, and Radford, all long established. The owner decided to close the Radford studio, so I took the leap and took it over. I changed the sign to Shell Studio and expanded the camera shop portion. This, as I recall, was in 1980, and the rent on the large studio location was $ 300 a month! Amazing, eh? But at times I had trouble coming up with that money. I inherited the job of photographing the sororities at Radford University and some other school business, plus selling all the materials required for the photography courses. This, plus portraits and some commercial work kept me going for a while, but money was tight. To pick up some extra income I began writing for a relatively new photography publication initially called Shutterbug Ads, a buy-sell-swap newspaper for photographers. Initially there was not much editorial content, and that was often poor in quality, but the owner wanted to improve the quality and become more of a mainstream magazine. When I first wrote for them they were printed tabloid size on yellow paper, and writers were paid in copies.

Parallel to this I had started a photographic equipment import and distribution operation. I had almost accidentally stumbled upon Enna Werk, a small German optical company in Munich that had just lost its US distributor. So I began importing and wholesaling their products, primarily camera lenses, slide viewers, slide projectors, and the Ennascop opaque projectors. After a year I broadened my product lines to include Fisher tripods and video lights from Italy, COIL aspheric magnifiers from England, and Lamborghini camera bags and sunglasses. These additional product lines resulted from meeting people at photokina in 1980, which I also covered for Shutterbug. For ten years I ran this business in parallel to acting as Shutterbug’s Technical Editor. By 1990 it had become just too much to do all of this, so I sold the import/distribution business. Shutterbug had by then transitioned to being a real magazine with ever-growing subscription list, distribution to booksellers, grocery stores, Wal-Mart, etc., and they offered me the job as Editor at a payment rate I could live on. As I have said before, though, I was never an employee of Shutterbug. I contracted to supply editorial services at a fixed monthly rate. This allowed me the freedom to set my own office hours, stay away from office politics, and take on noncompeting projects, like writing books. By the late 80s I was writing several books a year as well as writing for Photo Industry Reporter and some other noncompeting publications. Since I could do my work from anywhere, I stayed on in the Radford studio location, at 202 Third Avenue, right in downtown Radford. I probably would have stayed there indefinitely, but the roof leaked and the landlord refused to fix it. After two studio floods my insurance company said they would not pay for any more water damage, so I was forced to move. Luckily a great location became available, a former pharmacy measuring about 35 X 80 feet at 239 West Main Street, just a short distance from the police department. I kept my studio there from 1992 until 2007, fifteen years. So I had studios in Radford, on major commercial streets, for 20+ years, but when the police came to my studio after Marion’s death the detectives said they didn’t know I was in town! Some detecting!!

I wanted a big studio space, and the new location was ideal, since I had begun conducting studio workshops for groups of photographers. The monthly rent there started at $ 500 a month, and by 2007 had only gone up to $ 525! And that included a reserved parking space right by the back door. The rent also included heat in the winter. Amazing, and one of the main reasons I stayed in Radford all those years.

Anyway, that’s the story of why I was in Radford, somewhat abridged. I’d probably still be there, doing my photography, writing for books, magazines and websites, and generally enjoying life if the police hadn’t foolishly blamed me for Marion’s death. Their simple-minded nonsense destroyed me at the peak of my career. The plain fact, never disputed by anyone, is that I was not even there when Marion overdosed. When I found her unconscious, I immediately called 911 and did everything in my power to help her.

The real reason the Radford police, prosecutors, and court felt they had to destroy me was that some of my photography was frankly erotic (many Americans are terrified of open sexuality), and at the time of Marion’s death we were working on a book of erotica for a German publisher. The book was ultimately published as Erotic Bondage: Art of Rope by Goliath, first in their MixOfPix series. There is nothing pornographic about this book; no penetration, the photos are no more revealing than Playboy and far less revealing than Penthouse. We even Photoshopped some photos because we wanted to sell the book in most countries of the world, and put the text in English, German, French, and Spanish, for that reason as well. The book was published under my pseudonym Edward Lee, a pseudonym I’d used often since at least1993 (I don’t really remember when I first used it; it’s actually my two middle names. Over the course of my career I’ve used a number of pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. Many writers have done so. My friend Don Sutherland used something like 16 or 17 different pseudonyms.)

At my trial the prosecutor waved a copy of the book around at every opportunity, shoving it at my witnesses’ faces – “Have you seen THIS?”. He always seemed surprised when they answered, “Yes, Bob gave me a copy.” He was offended that they weren’t offended! None of my friends and former models found the book objectionable.

I just managed to keep my business going doing the 4+ years I was out on bail awaiting trial. I wrote four books, numerous magazine articles, held workshops, had a gallery show of my photographs in Chicago (but couldn’t go to it!), did my own photography, and generally tried to live a normal life during that time. But the prosecution was determined to convict me, and used false evidence and practically every other dirty trick in the book to. convince the jury that I was a scumbag who regularly drugged and raped my models, even though they couldn’t locate a single former model with anything negative to say about me. Not a one! And they looked for more than four years. As a lawyer I know said, if that had been true, surely someone would have come forward.

I’m almost tired of repeating that I am a totally innocent man destroyed by a corrupt political system because I dared to be different. They sentenced me to 32 1/2 years, when the Virginia sentencing guidelines recommended a maximum sentence of three years! The Virginia Dept. of Corrections classifies me as a “numerical lifer,” which means that even though I don’t have a life sentence I’m unlikely to live long enough to get out. That’s really depressing!

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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. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonyward.com/bob-shell-wherefore-blog/

 

Also posted in Blog, Men, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel