Diary: Theresa. A Visit to Alcatraz

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Theresa: A Visit to Alcatraz. 1980

 

 Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Diary: Theresa. A Visit to Alcatraz. 1980

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I first laid eyes on Theresa as she excited a cable car on a side street next to the Fairmount Hotel where I was staying in San Francisco on assignment in 1980.  She walked directly towards me as I was standing on the sidewalk next to the hotel waiting for the concierge to have my car delivered from the garage on my way to a photo shoot.   I said hello and she said hello back with a flirtatious smile.  Low and behold she was an employee of the hotel as she motioned to open a side door I noticed for employees only . As she opened her purse to get her pass key,  I commented that I was a guest at the hotel and mentioned how satisfied I was with the accommodations.  She said she would pass the compliment on to management.  We exchanged phone numbers.  Later that day we met for drinks at Donatello, her favorite Italian restaurant just off of Union Square.

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Theresa at Donatello. Union Square. San Francisco, 1980.

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One thing quickly led to the next and so began a brief but romantic relationship. One of the highlights of our time together was a trip we took to Alcatraz Island where I captured this very beautiful moment with this Mexican beauty!

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To access additional diary entries, click here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/diary-a-fashion-shoot-at-the-jersey-shore/

 

 

Posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Early Work, Glamour, Light Table, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, women

Bob Shell: Bondage?

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Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #31

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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BONDAGE?

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Why are “straight” people so freaked out over bondage? That’s a real puzzle to me. Here in the enlightened Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC), all bondage photos/videos are classified as “violent.”. That would come as a surprise to the thousands of couples who employ bondage as part of their sex play, and buy their bondage gear and sex toys at the local shopping mall or on line. In England the big Sainsbury’s supermarket chain just announced that they will begin selling a selection of sex toys.

Sure, restraining an unwilling person is a violent act, but when both people, Dom and Sub (or Top and Bottom in today’s terminology), are voluntary participants, where’s the violence? Only in the eye of the beholder. And who else’s business is it, anyway?

I can attest to the fact that there was no violence in the 100+ bondage photos I shot for my bondage book. The only violence was violent fits of laughter that the models and I sometimes fell victim to. We laughed until we cried.

Not long ago I had an issue of Vogue confiscated as contraband. You heard right, Vogue, the 126 year old fashion and culture magazine. Why? Bondage. One of the advertisements showed a full page photo of two young women playfully wrapping stockings around one another. That’s bondage? Yep, in the eyes of the VDOC it is. Even though the mailroom censors approved the magazine and gave it to me, I still got a “possession of contraband” charge for having it!

At the same time in the buildup to Halloween this year several cable channels that we get showed movies in which involuntary bondage, usually of nubile females, played a part. I don’t even have a TV, but just passing by the big pod TV put these images before me. Talk about violence! The old “damsel in distress,” (Little Nell tied to a railroad track by Snidely Whiplash, waiting for Dudley Doright to come to the rescue), still attracts viewers, and if she’s mostly naked, so much the better. I’ve got news for the VDOC, I’ve never tied Little Nell, or anyone else, to a railroad track! And seeing two women playfully wrapping stockings around each other only brings a chuckle from me. It never even occurred to me that anyone could look at that playful image and see violent bondage

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If people want to tie each other up, and there’s no force or coercion, whose business is it besides theirs? Even if for sex? So fucking what?!!

For some time the Fifty Shades of Grey books were on the VDOC’s disapproved publications list, but after a while and many complaints, the Publication Review Committee (PRC) changed that and now our libraries can have them. Out of curiosity I read all three books. They’re awful! How they became best sellers is beyond me. But, awful as they are, they should never have been disapproved for anything other than bad writing and saccharine plotting!

Even having something like a publication review committee strikes me as very un-American. You know, the old First Amendment and all that. The current disapproved publications list is many pages long in small print! And they pay people to be on the PRC!

My first bondage photography was with a beautiful young woman who modeled as Elkie Cooper. She’d been referred to me by a photographer friend in DC, and had just turned 18. She says I was her first real photographer. I photographed her for years. I loved her sense of humor; Her website said, “Elkie Cooper, The Other White Meat,” parodying the pork industry’s slogan. I hadn’t even thought about bondage until she sent me some bondage photos of her that another photographer had made. So we tried a bondage session, and got some good images. The only photos in my bondage book made on film are the photos of her. She also appears in the Rotovision book Erotic Photography, to which I contributed several images. A little later that year I booked Maria Shadoes for a shoot, not realizing she was heavily into bondage. She brought her friend Heather along, and I made a bunch of light bondage photos of the two of them. I wanted some of them in my bondage book, but the publisher didn’t like them and they were cut. Maybe someday I’ll do Volume Two and include them.

Then along came Marion and changed everything. I’d never before had a romantic relationship with a model. Of course there is always a measure of sexual tension between photographer and model, and that, in my experience, energizes the session and the resulting images. Some of the best nude photographs ever made are those of Charis Wilson that Edward Weston made, and, of course, they were lovers off camera. Weston’s best are full of erotic tension, even when they’re just bell peppers! I like to think that a similar tension inhabits my best photographs of Marion, bondage or not. To me, and I believe her previous boyfriends, Marion was sexual energy personified. She was like a runaway generator, shooting sparks to anyone nearby, male or female. She couldn’t have turned this off, even if she tried. Only one model I’ve worked with even came close, Tina Marie. Put her together with Marion, as we did, and the energy took over the photo shoot and comes through in those images.

I feel like I was at the peak of my creativity and craft in those bondage and fetish photographs I was making from 2002 until 2007. Then the state shut me down. Maybe one day I will be able to pick up where I left off. I’ve still got a lot of ideas for new images. Just set me free and I’ll go to it!

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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-the-evolution-of-photography/

 

Posted in Art, Blog, Books, Erotica, Fetish, Models, Nudes, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, women

TWS: Happy New Year!

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TWS: Happy New Year 2019

Posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Early Work, Film, News, Photography, Popular Culture

2018: The Year in Covers

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December 31, 2018

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Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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As 2018 draws to a close, I would like to thank all of my contributing writers, associates and affiliates for the many compelling articles I’ve had the pleasure of posting over the past year. This gallery of covers represents the diversity of articles and creative talent I’ve had the blessing to work with over the past twelve months, as we converged on a variety of topics ranging from politics to art. The 2018 contributors list includes: Kathryn Brooks, Summer Thomkins, KVaughn, Stanek Gallery, George Krause, Catherine Trifiletti, A.H. Scott, Bob Shell, Mikala Mikrut, Suzaan Talib, Robert Asman, Ed Simmons, Thomcat23, and our newest contributing writer, Katie Kerl.

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Posted in Art, Blog, Books, Cameras, Early Work, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Glamour, Models, News, Nudes, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Store, women

Larry Francis: The City in a New Light

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Larry Francis: The City in a New Light

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Larry Francis: The City in a New Light

January 4 – 26, 2019

Opening Reception: Friday, January 4, 5 – 7 pm

Gross McCleaf Gallery

127 S. Sixteenth Street

215-665-8138

Philadelphia, Pa. 19102

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Fishing at Midvale: Oil on Canvas. 36″x30″

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My subject is the city, the world outside my door. These paintings are straightforward representations of the things I see. There is a bit of magic in the early morning light on a wall, the cacophony of colorful signs in a shop window, or along a thoroughfare, and the reflections of light sparkling on the river. All these bits of life, and the sense of human habitation within the city, are important to me. – Larry Francis

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Many painters have captured scenes of everyday life, however, the paintings of Larry Francis are full of a glowing delight, derived from a fascination with the atmosphere of city life. Philadelphia is a frequent subject of his work, the pieces reflecting the personality of the industrial, yet often quaint, metropolis. Some of his paintings find nooks of the city that are serene; the secluded neighborhoods and parks that visitors do not always get the chance to see. Some are more active scenes; the bustling downtown areas and buildings that are more iconic to Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Francis uses gouache and oil paint to capture the light of the golden hour of the city with warm, luminous hues. He renders the most beautiful days in Fairmount Park, with crystal clear reflections of the sky on the water of the Schuylkill River. His paintings are refreshingly straightforward – nothing seems to be hidden – yet they often leave the viewer curious to learn more of the story. The joy infused into these works is infectious, and viewers might find themselves feeling nostalgic for a place they have never been. Larry Francis has been showing with Gross McCleaf Gallery since 1982, and is currently an instructor in painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied from 1967 to 1971.

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About The Artist:

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Portrait of Larry Francis

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Larry Francis is a Philadelphia native who has painted on the streets of the city from the early part of his life in art. Larry studied painting at PAFA where he was awarded the J. Henry Schiedt European Traveling Scholarship in 1970. His first big solo show was held at the Peale House Galleries of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1979. Over the years, Mr. Francis has received a number of awards; a few are the Julius Hallgarden Prize from the Academy of Design N. Y. in 1972, Mary Butler Award from the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 1996, Charles Knox Smith Founders Prize at the Woodmere Art Museum 2002, and a Prize for Painting at Cheltenham Art Center in 2011 and 2018. HIs work is in many public and private collections including the Noyes Museum of New Jersey, Woodmere Museum in Chestnut Hill, Federal Reserve Bank ,Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum. Mr. Francis shows his work at the Gross McCleaf Gallery, where he has had a dozen solo shows. Larry can be seen in the short film “ Larry Francis: Painting Philadelphia, by John Thornton. Larry teaches Landscape Painting and Drawing at the PAFA.

Posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Exhibits, News, Popular Culture