Category Archives: Popular Culture

TWS: “Bonnie Rotten” Tank Now Available in Store


White “Bonnie Rotten” Tank Now Available in Store



White “Bonnie Rotten” Tank Now Available in Store. To access TWE Casual Wear on sale, click here


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TWS: K Vaughn Men’s Spring Collection 2018

K Vaughn Mens' Collection Spring 2018_tony_ward_studio

K Vaughn Mens’ Collection Spring 2018



Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018


K and I met at the Barnes Foundation for this recent collaboration. I couldn’t think of a better location dignified enough to represent his brand. I’ve seen K Vaughn in action over two decades as he solidly built his own brand from stem to stern, one stitch at a time.  This of course is no easy task. However, K Vaughn year after year lives up to the task of showering his customers with the best fabrics he can find between his haunts from Philly to New York.  This season Kevin’s mood reflect’s the weather; April still feeling like fall, thus his current mood.


To access more photographs of K Vaughn scarves, click here


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New Addition to the Store: The “Rachel” Hoodie


New “Rachel” Hoodie Now Available in Store

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018


Model: K Vaughn, Scarf Designer


Location: The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.


To access Store items, click here


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Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #9


Bob Shell: Art of Rope. Cover Model: Marion Franklin


Letters From Prison: Part 9, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


I promised to talk about the current Virginia Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. William T. Gormley. Around four years ago I heard that Virginia had a new Chief ME, so without much hope I wrote to him describing my problems with Dr. Massello’s trial testimony. To my surprise I got a letter back quickly from Dr. Gormley saying that if I had described Massello’s testimony accurately, it was wrong. I wanted something more unequivocal than that, so I arranged for a copy of the transcript of Massello’s testimony to be sent to Dr. Gormley. He read it and wrote back that Massello was definitely wrong. On his own initiative he had the ME’s file sent to him and examined the photos himself and saw that there was no reason whatsoever to think that Marion was dead. In fact, she was trying to impress Maria with how realistically she could look like she was passed out.

And in an interview Dr. Gormley was highly critical of Massello, saying that his autopsy of Marion was “horrific” and that Massello was a problem that has finally left the state. You can read the interview at on the News Updates page. If you realize just how reluctant doctors are to criticize each other, you’ll see how strong his feelings are against Massello.

The key point of all this is that we’d done a suspension of Marion just before we knocked off for the day, and she still had ropes tied around her waist and upper thighs when she went to lie on the bed. Lew had cautioned me not to leave them on very long. because they were quite tight. Marion woke up and we were fooling around taking some pictures on the bed. Maria Shadoes had sent us an email weeks before suggesting that we do a “chloroform” shoot in which Marion would act like she was passed out and I would undress her and tie her up. We’d tried this several times, but Marion didn’t like the results because she didn’t think the photos looked real. She was a serious perfectionist about her look in photos and I had deleted many sets she didn’t like. These were no exception, and all but the most recent set had been deleted. Since Maria and Lew were supposed to come back the next day, she wanted to try again to impress them. So we reshot the set with camera on tripod and I used a radio remote with foot pedal so I could be in the pictures. Part way through the shoot we took off the black spiderweb body suit she’d worn all day, and then the ropes, which I needed her help to untie, (As I said earlier I have little strength or coordination in my left hand, and needed her help with the knots.) After that. I took pictures for 43 minutes before we quit. All the day’s pictures were on a 1gb IBM MicroDrive, which I removed from the Canon EOS 10D camera and put in my pocket. (Because the photos weren’t for publication, I was shooting only JPEGs, and could get lots on that 1gb MicroDrive.). Later that night I gave the MicroDrive to Detective Jim Lawson, never dreaming that the photos would be misinterpreted and used to indict me for serious crimes. That misinterpretation came from Dr. Massello who looked at the images the next day. He said that Marion was dead, and had been dead for some time when those last photos were made. He said that ligature marks like those visible from the ropes (1/4 inch Nylon) would vanish quickly in a living person, no matter how tight the ropes or how long in place, and since these marks were still visible in the last photo 43 minutes after removal of the ropes, she was clearly dead. I was astonished when I heard this! Any person who has ever experimented with bondage knows that such marks can persist for hours. If you doubt this tie a tight ligature around your wrist, leave it for a half hour or so, and see how long the marks remain visible. Some models I know still have visible marks the next day. It varies from person to person and I speculate that it is related to the amount of subcutaneous fat a person has.

When Massello first voiced this crackpot idea, I told him he was wrong and asked for his authority on this. He snapped, “All the textbooks.”. So I had the Radford Public Library get me all the textbooks on pathology. Thankfully there aren’t that many. I read them all cover-to-cover and found that there was not one word on ligature retention in living persons in them (and learned a lot of gory stuff I’d rather not have known!). When we met with Massello again I told him this and he got hostile and growled, “Well, it’s just common sense!”. He would not even look at the photos I’d brought showing retention for hours. So he came to my trial and spouted the same nonsense and since he had more prestige than my witnesses, the jury bought his baloney. There’s more about these photos, and I’ll go into it another time. One thing I want to mention is about that earlier set of photos. I was surprised when the prosecutor introduced them, claiming they were shot on a different day. Once projected up on the courtroom wall it was easy to see the date/time data and image numbers. I had my lawyer point out that the date was not when the prosecutor claimed they were made, and that a. number of images were missing. Someone had edited the photos! They probably didn’t know I had multiple backups of all my photo sessions, some of them off-site. I brought in my backup copy and showed the jury that the missing photos were all the ones that showed that Marion was awake, alert, and having fun. A harmless set of photos had been edited to make it look like she was unconscious! This should have given the jury pause, but they were too busy being offended by the content of the photos. The prosecution’s theory was that Marion was forced to participate in these photo shoots. But Detective Jim Lawson said that after looking at lots of our photos and videos he had seen nothing to make him think that Marion was anything other than a willing, even enthusiastic, participant. But the jury paid no attention to his testimony….


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 at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here


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Diary: Why I bought a 38


38 Holstered. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018. Model: Sandy Ward


Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018



Back in the early 90’s, my wife and I were visiting friends at a party in Vineland, New Jersey, about an hours drive from our studio in center city Philadelphia when my cell phone rang.  It was a neighbor in our building on 6th street informing me that our apartment had been broken into and police were called to investigate.  I was shocked at first never before was I violated in such a personal way. Sandy (my wife at the time) and I immediately drove home speeding up 42 North towards the Walt Whitman Bridge. By the time of our arrival home the building was silent, no police in sight,  just a vague description from a neighbor that they saw a man with a tape player in his hand hastily walking down the fire escape and out the back door of the building.

When I entered the apartment from the garage, the rear door exiting to the fire escape was closed but not locked. There was no clear sign of a break in. Not a scratch on the door or a crowbar left behind. It raised serious questions as to who could have entered the loft without breaking in? A few things were missing; change that I left on the burrow of my bedroom, my fathers antique watch that he gave me when I was in college, the new tape player that I just bought was missing.  All of the wires connecting it to the rest of the stereo equipment was strewn about. My mind started to imagine and search for who the perpetrator could be? Was it one of my employee’s some of whom did have a key?

The next day I drove up to my father’s house in Elkins Park and asked him to go with me to a gun shop that I knew was straight up 611 just before you get to the Willow Grove mall. We parked out in front of the nondescript place, walked in and began pacing up and down the cases looking for the best way to comfort my fear of the break in. Thoughts of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry came to mind.  I also recalled when I used to go out in the back woods with my roommate in college to practice shooting at tin cans with his 44 Magnum until one day he cracked the barrel by overpacking the bullets. The store’s salesman convinced me I didn’t need anything that large. The 38 Rossi was an adequate means of protecting my home in the event of another break in when I was home or worse home with my wife and children. I became a regular at the shooting range and eventually learned how to pack my own hollow point bullets.

Fortunately, I have never had to use it other than to enjoy the cheap thrill of being able to hit a target from a certain distance. Nowadays folks go out and buy an AR15 for similar reasons. Somehow I think that is a bit over kill.


To access additional diary entries by Tony Ward, click here


About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Portrait of Tony Ward by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Tony Ward by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018

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