Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019
Picking up the Pieces
Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019
Picking up the Pieces
Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019
A Stitch in Relative Time
What really is photography? I think it is an outgrowth of our inability to revisit moments in time. The old tentmaker wrote:
The moving finger writes, and having writ,
moves on, Nor all thy piety nor wit
can lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out one word of it.
We move through time headlong, like a boat with no rudder, and must follow the current wherever it takes us. When we die, all the moments of our lives are gone, “like tears in rain.”
That, at least, is the viewpoint of most people, who never realize that they are projecting a Newtonian viewpoint onto external reality. But since 1905 and Einsteinian Relativity we should have realized that we actually exist in a Relativistic reality. Time, that we seek to capture slices of, is not something that flows. It is the fourth dimension of reality that Newton simply took for granted as being the same everywhere. But Einstein showed us that time is not absolute, that it varies depending on the position and motion of the observer. Most of us haven’t integrated Einsteinian Relativity into our daily worldview, we’re stuck back centuries ago with old Isaac Newton.
“Physics itself recognizes no special moment called ‘now’ — the moment that acts as the focus of ‘becoming’ and divides the ‘past’ from the ‘future.’. In four dimensional space-time nothing changes, there is no flow of time, everything simply is…It is only in consciousness that we come across a particular time known as ‘now’ …It is only in the context of mental time that it makes sense to say that all of physical space-time is. One might even go so far as to say that it is unfortunate that such dissimilar entities as physical time and mental time should carry the same name.”. — Russell Stannard, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Open University.
“Particles themselves do not even move, being represented by ‘static’ curves drawn in space-time. Thus, what we perceive as moving 3D objects are really successive cross sections of immobile 4D objects past which our field of observation is sweeping.” — Roger Penrose
So if the time we perceive and the motion we perceive are illusions, what is the point of photography? I’ve been wrestling with that question. Will we one day be able to get outside time and revisit “moments from the past”? I’d be very surprised if we don’t.
Years ago, in the early 1960s, my father came home from his job as a TV news reporter one day very excited. He showed us a press release from the U.S. Navy in which it stated that the Navy had developed a “time camera,” which could take photographs of a scene as it was hours before. The example they used was to photograph an empty parking lot and get images of all the cars that were parked there earlier in the day. We were all wowed by this announcement, and I remember anxiously awaiting more news about this “time camera,” but none was ever forthcoming. Nor was there ever an official denial — nothing. If it was a hoax, I’d have expected some official denial. Periodically over the years I’ve tried to find any information about that camera, but have never found a thing. I’ve always suspected that the information was released to the press by mistake, and quickly withdrawn behind a veil labeled “Top Secret.” Just imagine what a powerful historical research tool that would be!
In a very real sense we always photograph the past. Say you are photographing someone twelve feet away. Light falls on that person and some is reflected to your camera, but it takes time for that light to come from your subject and reach your film or digital sensor. Light travels at a rate of one foot per nanosecond, so if your subject is twelve feet away, you are photographing them not in the present instant when you trip your shutter, but twelve nanoseconds in the past. Your subject is always younger in your photographs! Your camera is always a time machine. However, until that light strikes your film or sensor the image is in the future relative to you.
Now twelve nanoseconds is pretty small potatoes, but what about when you hook your camera to a telescope and point it at the moon, which is one light second away, or at the sun which is eight light seconds away, or even at Alpha Centauri which is 4.3 light years away. You’d be photographing respectively 1 second, 8 seconds, or 4.3 years into the past. From the perspective of someone on the moon, the sun, and Alpha Centauri, you are 1 second, 8 seconds and 4.3 years in their future. So you see their past, but their “present” overlaps with your past so from their perspective they see your past. Clear? Relativity can be confusing!
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-why-radford/
Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019
You Don’t Have to Move on to Let Go
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 Mojito’s on 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 couple, learn 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.
About The Author: Katie 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/
Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019
Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019
You said you liked red.
So I started seeing it everywhere:
The fabric on my couches,
The scratches you made when my chest was bare.
You said you liked red.
I’ve always loved the drive behind passion,
The power behind anger,
And its symbolism in fashion.
You said you liked red.
And blood became alluring,
Cherries suddenly voluptuous,
All my feelings of black, you were curing.
You said you liked red.
I want to be red for you.
Red from acts of affection,
From what my cheeks can’t hide when I speak too.
You said you liked red.
And it had to find me like the melody of a song,
My fire, my crazy opinions, and my desires.
You knew I was red all along.
About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a sophomore enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mikala-mikrut-sense-of-place/
Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #35
Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019
Photography by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019
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!
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/