Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020
Adventures in Nude Photography
In my world travels I’ve always sought to photograph local women. In most countries that hasn’t been a problem. In early years I used word of mouth to find models, and later I used the Internet. One Model Place (onemodelplace.com) was a good source for the USA and Europe, and by now may have expanded to more countries. I’ve used them to find models in Germany and France. In England, when I was going there often in the 90s, there were small rental studios everywhere, each with a book of available models, so finding models was easy.
Once when I was in Hove/Brighton with some extra time on my hands I looked up a local studio and went by and checked out their model book. I really liked the look of one model named Tarnya Blackwell, so I booked the studio and her for a couple of hours the next day. I turned up at the appointed time and so did she. She was a very attractive, graceful young woman with a very Cockney accent, like the accent Adele has when she isn’t singing. I had my Fuji GW 670 II and a Canon EOS-1 and the studio had several nice Courtenay monolite flash units with umbrellas, “brollies” to the British. As we began to get ready for the shoot, she asked me if we were going to be doing “Continental pictures.”. I had no idea what she was talking about, so she explained a bit bashfully that that meant explicit photos. She was obviously relieved when I told her no, I had nothing like that in mind. We proceeded to have a very nice couple of hours and I found her very fluid in her movements and totally relaxed in front of my camera. But there was one slight hitch, she kept her front toward me for all the shots, only turning a bit sideways for some. When I asked her to turn around she picked up a long piece of fabric and held it behind her blocking her butt. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I asked her. “Me bum is pale,” she replied. I told her I didn’t care so she sighed and dropped the cloth. Her “bum” wasn’t noticeably pale, but it was crisscrossed with livid red whip marks! So, Tarnya was more than a bit kinky. I really didn’t care, and that brief bit of tension blew away and we got into the groove again. I got some great photos from that shoot.
Another time, also in England, in 1993, I did a shoot with a lovely young woman, Karen Boyle, who was Miss Jamaica that year in the Miss World pageant in London. She had come out to Chris Knight’s home at Cooling Castle and I spent a couple hours photographing her at the crumbling old castle and grounds. I was using a Canon EOS-1 and the superb Canon 28-80 f/2.8-4 L lens. That lens is so sharp that I generally put a Zeiss Softar #1 on it when photographing glamour and nudes, as I did for all the photos that day. I’ve had one of my best photos of Karen on the main page of bobshell.com for years. She’s one of the prettiest women I ever was privileged to photograph. Half English and half Jamaican, with flawless cafe au lait skin. The English weather actually cooperated for the day. There had been light drizzle on the drive, but by the time I reached Cooling it had stopped, leaving the sky bright and overcast; the world’s biggest softlight! Perfect weather for photography, only if you look carefully you’ll see that the toes of Karen’s boots are wet from walking through the damp grass. I toned it down a bit with Photoshop, but I think you can still see.
Once when I was going to Germany for a week I checked out One Model Place’s listings for Germany and got in touch with a nice young woman who agreed to drive to Cologne for a day’s photography. To my surprise, when she arrived at my hotel she turned out to be an American, the wife of an American serviceman stationed over there. We worked half the day in a big public park alongside the Rhine and then I did some available light pictures in my hotel toom , which had a very big window with a white curtain, a perfect diffuser. This was in 2002 and I was shooting with a Nikon D100 that I was evaluating. Very nice camera.
On another German trip serendipity put me in contact with a young woman named Malika from Morocco. She had a great face, very long dark brown hair, stunning figure, and medium brown skin. The first time I met her she was wearing a white T-shirt and very tight jeans. She sat down in a chair in my hotel room, smiled playfully and pulled up her T-shirt. “Like my tits?”. she asked. When I said I did, she grinned and said, ” They’re fake, of course!” Like so many breast enhancements done in Europe, they looked far more natural than ones done over here, which are usually too big. Also, when done in Europe the scar is usually in the armpit and hardly noticeable. Anyway, Malika was a lot of fun, but wanted my assurance that her father back in Morocco wouldn’t see the pictures. I felt I could safely assure her of that. So far as I know none of my photos have ever been published in Morocco!
The only place I had trouble finding local models was in Southeast Asia, where the women all seemed naturally camera shy. I had no trouble in Japan, of course. And when I did shoots in the Caribbean I had to bring my models with me for the most part. I did have a very pleasant surprise when conducting a workshop in 1998 on St. Thomas at an estate when a really nice looking young woman who was working at the estate came down to where we were photographing the three models I’d brought down, threw off her clothes, and joined in. We all got some great photos of her and at the end of the day I paid her just like the other models. That’s the first and only time something like that happened!
I had my photo studio in Radford, VA, starting in 1981. My first location was three blocks from Radford University, formerly a woman’s college but still with about a three to one ratio of women to men. You’d think I’d have no trouble getting models from there. I tried running ads in the school newspaper, but got very little response. I put a “Models Wanted” sign in my front window, also to very little response. I ended up letting the local models I worked with spread the word for me. It took a while, but eventually I had aspiring models showing up frequently. I stayed at that first studio location for ten years, and then .moved to a location on Main Street (two blocks from the police station) in 1992. I was there until my trial in 2007. (Two allegations made at my trial bear mention: First that I was concealing my presence. On Main Street just up from the police station? Give me a break! That was totally ridiculous! Second, that there was something shady about me always coming and going through the back door. Duh, the parking lot was in back of the building and I had a reserved parking space right by the back door. I should come out the front door and walk all the way around the building to avoid looking suspicious? The lead detective on my case said he didn’t know I was there. After all, I’d only been there eleven years!)
One of my more unusual aspiring models was a policewoman in a nearby town. Very pretty, with a great personality. But there was a problem. She spent months outdoors directing traffic in a short sleeved uniform. blouse. Her arms from below where the sleeve ended were very brown, while all the rest of her was pale. What could I do? I did the simplest thing and showed her the photos from our test shoot. “My arms look awful!” she exclaimed. Yep. My Photoshop skills weren’t up to fixing that, and there weren’t many poses I could use that would hide her arms. We did get a couple good back shots with her clasping her hands in front, but we mutually decided that we’d have to wait until she got a desk job and her arms matched the rest of her. I don’t know if the desk job never came through or just what happened, but I never heard from her again. That was a shame because I really liked her.
I’ll save more of my adventures for another time. Next time I’ll talk about other hated tan lines!
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/covid-19-2/
Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020
Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020
The March/April 2020 issue of Discover magazine has a couple very interesting articles on scientific research into the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), shows great promise in treating ARML (Age Related Memory Loss), dementia, and may even reverse Alzheimer’s. That’s pretty amazing to me, because back in 1969 I was arrested for possession of marijuana, one single joint in the pocket of a man who didn’t live with us, was just visiting. Five people in the apartment, one had marijuana, all five were charged with possession! Not only were the four of us who had no marijuana charged with possession, we were each facing up to thirty years in prison!
And this being Richmond, Virginia, we were all convicted! I got a three year sentence, thankfully suspended, and had to fight to get that conviction expunged so I could vote, own firearms, and exercise constitutional rights that most people take for granted.
My life was totally disrupted, and one of my best friends who’d been living with me in the apartment put a gun in his mouth and killed himself over it. I’ve never completely gotten over that. A young life ended by the evil of misguided government.
Now, fifty-one long years later, we’re finally getting around to doing the research to find out what marijuana actually does when ingested by humans. And we’re finding out that it does some remarkable things, like restoring memory function to aging brains when used in moderate quantities.
Serious research was blocked for generations by stupid regulations that made such research almost impossible.
Actually, the research had unwittingly already been done in the field. There are areas in Kashmir and other high Himalayan regions where people have cooked their food in Red Oil, marijuana oil, for centuries. All we need to do is compare them with others who live in similar localities but use other oils for cooking.
When National Geographic sent a team into the area years ago for a story, the photographers and writers ate what the locals were eating, and found themselves too high to function. It took them weeks to get accustomed to having high levels of THC in their systems and become functional again. But the people who cook with Red Oil aren’t any less healthy than their neighbors who don’t, and show no increased level of mental problems. They live quiet, happy lives.
Is marijuana totally harmless, then? No, (and probably should only be used by adults, as it may be harmful to developing brains), but neither is coffee, chocolate, tea, or countless other plant products. Demonizing marijuana, as the U.S. government did for years, ruined lives and was far more harmful to society than marijuana ever could have been, even if the lies about it had been true.
Here in backwater, backward Virginia, people have even seen the light. Our legislature, the General Assembly, which likes to remind us that it is the oldest elected legislature in America, has finally passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana, and our Governor says he will sign it. But decriminalization is not legalizing, and they’ll still be able to bust you for having it. It will just be a fine instead of jail or prison.
We’ve had a “medical marijuana” law in Virginia for years. It says they can’t charge anyone for possession if they have a valid prescription from a Virginia doctor. But doctors here were not allowed to write such prescriptions! And prescriptions from one of the surrounding states or D.C. weren’t any good.
All laws making marijuana illegal need to just be struck from the books. For that matter, it is my opinion that all drug laws do far more harm than good. We could save a hell of a lot of money and break the backs of the drug cartels by ending unproductive prohibition and disbanding the Drug Enforcement Administration, and have local police stop wasting time and money harassing people for simple possession. All those millions of tax dollars could then be put to productive use.
Almost all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls say they favor legalizing marijuana, as has President Trump. I say, stop talking and do it! Trump could do it with the stroke of a pen with an Executive Order, as could the next president, if it’s not him. Fifty-one years is too long to wait.
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://tonyward.com/bob-shell-finally-something-good-to-report/
Photography and Text by Alejandra Guerrero, Copyright 2020
Wicked Women is my first solo book and a photographic monograph of 12 years of my works in erotica with emphasis in fetish photography. It presents my vision of sensual, strong and sexually confident women, with images full of narrative and erotically charged stark portraits. It presents my visual aesthetic, including elements of fashion and fetishism blending seamlessly together. Fetishism relies heavily on garments as symbolic elements of power and surrender which I delight in using in my work. It presents a type of woman I like to call a “Vamp”, a seductress, dark and mysterious with a bit of film noir, Femme Fatale. She is in tune to her desires and her fantasies, without apologizing. It flows sensually and provocatively.
The story of how this project came about happened in New York City in the Spring of 2018, when I met David Jenkins, the editor in chief at Circa Press, London, England. He had an interest in doing a book with me. I had some ideas, but then a section on my web site I had called “Wicked Women”, to group the more fetish oriented photos caught his attention as well as the title I used for the body of work. We settled in the name quickly and then worked on selecting photos I had already shot that fit the theme of the book. After we met, I shot a few new photos to add to the portfolio, as well as the cover image, but the work was largely there from our first conversation.
As a collector of books that have inspired and entertained me since getting into photography, I’m very excited and thrilled to launch my Wicked Women unto the world. Please support my Kickstarter campaign by clicking on this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1649001578/alejandra-guerrero-wicked-women
About The Author: Alejandra Guerrero is a photographer that has been establishing her unique vision for female empowered eroticism, fashion and fetish. It is a vision that can be traced back to her early upbringing in Bogota, Colombia. A more conservative society, its constraints did wha constraints so often do: the reverse of what was intended. They filled her with a desire and curiosity that would eventually be satiated in the less judgmental underground communities in the US, where the erotic/fetish community would embrace her and show her that people could have more open minds about how they express their sexuality. For Alejandra, this expression would take the form of a unique combination of seductive fashion, erotic fantasy and an unapologetic embracing of fetish as seen through the eyes of a powerful woman.
Interview and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020
Unfortunately, I never got a chance to meet Charles Gatewood in person. I was familiar with his subcultural work from his books, magazine assignments, and exhibitions. I admired his anthropologic curiosity and his significant contributions to the medium of photography and its history. We got to know each other on social media and began corresponding via email until his untimely death on April 29, 2016, a result of a fall from his third floor apartment in San Francisco. He left several suicide notes. This is a repost of an interview I conducted with Mr. Gatewood in 2011. His legend continues to live on.
TW: What do you find most compelling about the medium of Photography?
CG: I’m a card-carrying voyeur, and my exotic subjects excite me. My camera is a passport to adventure and creative fun. I am my own boss. I have never had a “job.” I travel the world, do whatever I please, photograph famous people, and have kinky sex with beautiful punkettes. ‘Nuff said!
TW: You have covered a variety of subject areas in your involvement in Photography. Which of these subject areas to you find the most compelling and worthy of further exploration?
CG: I’ve been photographing almost fifty years, and I’ve covered lots of subjects. Most of my work is about people and behavior, and I’ve spent many years documenting alternative culture in all its ragged glory. My extended photo essays include 60s counterculture, rock and roll (I shot for Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy), the radical sex community, and tattooing, piercing and body art (I helped launch the “new tribalism” movement by sparking the RE/Search book Modern Primitives). I also did lots of traditional photojournalism in the 60s and 70s.
One of my favorite extended photo essays is Wall Street, shot between 1972-1976. This work is more formal, and more about social conditioning, societal control, corporate excess, and fascist architecture. Which subjects do I find most compelling today? Barely-legal girls, ha ha.
TW: How do you think the medium of photography has impacted popular culture at large?
Are you serious?
CG: What was it like to encounter William S. Burroughs as a subject in your work?
In January, 1972, Rolling Stone sent me and writer Bob Palmer to London to do a feature article on William Burroughs. Talk about a dream assignment. We spent a week with Burroughs, smoked hash, stared into the Dream Machine, played with the E-meter, and dug all Burroughs’ best rants and stories. Rolling Stone liked the story so much they asked me to be their New York photographer.
I shot Burroughs again in NYC, 1975, for Crawdaddy. He and musician Jimmy Page met for tea and chat before a Led Zeppelin concert. I got great shots from that shoot too.
TW: Are you equally compelled to photograph men and women. If not, which gender do you prefer to photograph and why?
CG: For most of my career, I’ve photographed everyone. Today, I mostly photograph gorgeous women. Wouldn’t you?
TW: How has photography broadened or defined your view of today’s world?
TW: If you could turn back the hands of time, would you have chosen another profession?
No, no, no. I do enjoy creative writing, but at heart I’m a picture guy.
TW: Describe the feeling of taking a great picture? What happens at that moment?
CG: Well, for me the creative act is a wonderful high, especially if the subject is exotic or sexy. I go into what I call “magic space.” Psychologists call it “flow.” Athletes call it “being in the zone.” It’s an exhilarating feeling. Time stands still, there is total communion with the subject, and the creative process (right framing, angle, moment) is like a beautiful zen dance. I work it, work it, work it—and suddenly there it is, my shot!
TW: How do you define Photography as Art?
CG: Andy Warhol said, “Art is anything you can get away with.” I agree!