Category Archives: Politics

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #13


Portrait of Karen Boyle by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Karen Boyle by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Letters From Prison: Part 13, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


As promised, the story of PIC magazine. PIC, was short for People In Camera, and was started in the early 80s by Chris Knight as a sort of hobby. Captain Christopher Knight, to give him his proper title was an almost stereotypical rich English eccentric. He lived in a castle in Kent (Cooling Castle), had a full-time staff of falconers to care for his hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons, all of which spent most of their time on wooden perches in the castle courtyard. Chris was the scion of a family that owned fleets of container ships, which he and his brother had inherited. He was also a pretty darned good photographer, specializing in photos of pretty women. There was an old barn on the castle grounds that he’d had wired up and turned into an exceptionally well outfitted studio. He brought professional models from London for his own shoots and worked with a group of photographers who conducted workshops there and on the castle grounds. The photo of Karen Boyle, that year’s Miss Jamaica, that graced the splash page of my old website (and may still be up) was taken in one of the castle’s ruined towers in the summer of 1993. Anyway, I’d somehow met Chris, I don’t remember where, and was the invited up to the castle for a photo shoot and chat. Chris wanted to talk to me because PIC had been in the red for years, and as he said, was eating up all his “pocket money.”. We talked, he hired me as a consultant, and had the magazine’s books sent over to me. The problem was obvious when I looked over the books. He was grossly overstaffed, and was paying people high salaries for doing very little. I advised him to make some serious staff cuts, which made me very unpopular with those who got the axe, but in a short while the magazine was showing a small profit. Chris didn’t care if it made a lot of money, he just didn’t want it to keep on losing money.

One day I was in my office at home (I always worked from home) and got a call from a solicitor (British for lawyer) in London. It seemed that Chris had had a heart attack, and after hanging on for a week in hospital had died. But you could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me that Chris had rewritten his will during that week and had left PIC to me for a very nominal sum if I wanted it. Wow, biggest surprise of my life! I decided to give it a go even though running a magazine by “remote control” from the USA presented some major challenges. For most of 1994 I was essentially commuting between Radford and London. PIC originally had it’s offices in the grimy old English city of Rochester. I didn’t want to go up there, so I moved everything down to Hove on the south coast, and borrowed a large office from Hove Foto Books, my English book publisher, for a few months until we found a London office near Kings Cross, London. I realized at some point that trying to run a magazine in the UK while holding together my American commitments was just about impossible. Plus, we had a serious cash flow problem. On paper we were looking good, but many advertisers simply weren’t paying their bills. Not just little guys either, but some major companies were holding onto our invoices for six months or more. Meanwhile we had printing, postage, salaries, etc., that had to be paid right then. Then, real disaster struck! Over the long Christmas holiday a water pipe on the top floor burst, flooding our office and ruining things. The bottom line was that I could not go on pouring thousands of pounds of my own money in every month. Unlike Chris my resources had rather tight limits. So I had to make the very painful decision at the end of 1994 to shut the magazine down.

It was great while it lasted and I was very proud of the “book” (as magazines are called inside the business). We won an international design award for one cover, by the amazing Japanese photographer Hiroshi Nonami. The president of Olympus in the UK wrote to me to say that my cover portrait of model Nicolle Gray was the finest portrait he had ever seen. I was gratified by such positive feedback. I still own rights to the PIC name and logo and hoped to one day relaunch it. If I ever do it will most likely be as a webzine.

Having to close that magazine was like losing a child.

I did meet some very interesting people during that time period. Anyone from the UK reading this and old enough will probably recognize the name Keith Johnson, founder of Keith Johnson Photographic, later just called KJP, which was the largest chain of photo shops in the. UK. By 1994 he had sold the company and moved to his vineyards and winery in Sussex, where he was producing a very nice wine called Sussex Gold. He invited me, Michael Barrington-Martin and Bob Dove, two of the PIC writers there for a day. Keith had opened a restaurant there and had a nice big meeting room. We discussed having some photo workshops there, but that never came to pass. I had taught some workshops in London by then as well as in Germany, and was looking to expand, but things just didn’t work as well over there. The logistics were horrific and ate up any profit. Eventually, I settled down to the USA and Caribbean, where the logistical problems were fewer. My outdoor workshops were held here in Virginia on forest land I owned, in Florida on St. Pete Beach and Clearwater, and in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. In the Caribbean I used beaches and private estates on St. Thomas, USVI. I had people from Europe and Japan come to these, which was easier than taking my show to them. I also conducted many studio workshops in my Radford studio, which had been specifically set up for teaching. It was big enough (35 x 80 feet) to have multiple sets active at the same time. Of course, I lost my studio when I was convicted, along with practically everything else…..


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



Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Glamour, Models, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, women

A.H. Scott: Who’s Trippin?



Illustration by Christopher Suciu, Copyright 2018



Commentary by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2018


Illustration by Christopher Suciu, Copyright 2018


Who’s Trippin?



Tripped, tricked and mentally flipped

Hold on, hang tight

Everything is catapulted in a callous haze and diabolical sight



Myths are truths and truths are myths, as lovers and haters clash with pith

On the way forward, history has been

Roped into a lavish can, we are in for a Hellbound ride

Our future is in someone else’s hands, but too small to hold us all

No bell coming your way, cuz’ the only ringing in your ears and brain is from the wicked games you play



Instinct of the invincible is the armor he places on

No bad weather of storms or tears of despair for him



Tip-toeing through the tulips ain’t the way to go

Here comes a damned steamroller eviscerating daisies

Earth’s survival on the scales takes a backseat to insanity




Wising to go back to decades past, when linen was color so pure

Heils replacing hails are becoming the normal fare

In over our heads, we are cluelessly led

Time is a thing that’s never down for a king, for he thrives on platitudes that you sing

Easing along with obliviousness as a he’s hitting his stride



Hands to the heavens in a sinner’s cynical prayer

Over yonder, the contempt for the frog is ever so clear in the cracked melting pot

Under Old Glory, hand to chest in allegiance

Status quo under a Novocain drip of demagoguery

Ease into a coffin of chaos



Who’s trippin’?

First letter holds all the cards, for it is who he is by a million miles and yards

Where ya’ crown be?

He is King of the Swamp Creatures

What’s his delight?

Reality bites!!



About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go here


Also posted in Art, Blog, News, Popular Culture, Portraiture, women

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #11



Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018


Letters From Prison: Part 11, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


As an observer of the world and all its wonders, I am very concerned that we are such poor stewards of this “jumpin’ green sphere.” (as Lord Buckley called it.). Annyone who persists in denying climate change is just not paying attention. The Arctic ice cap is melting! Now people seem to think that only concerns polar bears and Eskimos, but it should seriously concern us all. All of that ice is FRESH WATER, man! Once enough fresh water floods into the Laurentian Sea and desalinates it, this will seriously affect the temperature differential of the Atlantic that drives the major currents (to say nothing about what it will do to the fish). The only reason that northern Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, Iceland, etc., are habitable is the North Atlantic Current, which pumps warm water (and air) up from the tropics and warms things up for the people there. Take away that current, have it loop farther south, or greatly weaken it, and you have Siberia! Sure, people do live in Siberia, but they can’t grow their food there. Shut off the North Atlantic Current and most of Europe becomes too cold for crops. Keep the current shut down and you have a new Ice Age (this same effect causes all ice ages) and it will come to that if the Arctic keeps melting. It’s probably far too late to stop the melting, if we even could.

All that being said, I’m not convinced that we caused this. Many blame us and our addiction to burning fossil fuels, but ice ages are cyclical, and we weren’t around in significant numbers before the last big one, and most likely not around at all for most of them. So I doubt we’re the sole cause of the coming one; but we may well have nudged it sooner; it would have. happened regardless. Of course what’s happening in the northern hemisphere is also happening in the southern, and probably with similar effects. I know a lot less about ocean currents in southern oceans. But the truth, as illogical as it may seem at first, is that global warming at the surface causes and precedes ice ages. And we should be preparing ourselves for this. Most scientists who study the past are “gradualists” who believe that all earth changes take a long time. Their opposites are “catastrophists” who believe that some changes can be sudden. There is evidence accumulating that the last big ice age may have arrived pretty suddenly, perhaps in just one season. Maybe even faster. The mammoths found in the permafrost of Siberia show signs of being flash frozen, and scientists from Japan believe they can extract viable sperm from one and use it to artificially inseminate an elephant to produce an elephant/mammoth hybrid from which they can breed a new herd of mammoths. The famous Beresovka mammoth was killed and frozen so fast that it was still chewing on its last meal. That didn’t happen gradually! Slow freezing allows ice crystals to form inside cells, and those crystals tear up the complex cellular machinery and burst the cell walls, basically reducing tissue to mush. Flash freezing, as Clarence Birdseye discovered, preserves cellular structure, so your frozen foods aren’t mush. Mammoths have been found so fresh that people have dined on mammoth steaks! Gradualism be damned!

The movie The Day After Tomorrow used this idea to good effect, and it was based on Whitley Strieber’s book The Coming Global Superstorm, where I first encountered these ideas. I’ve since read much on the subject, and I’m convinced.

What’s this got to do with photography? you may ask. Well, I didn’t only photograph unclad females. In fact, the majority of my stock photography sales have been of landscapes and nature pictures. As I mentioned before, I’m (through Shutterbug) one of the founders of NANPA, the North American Nature Photographers Association, and was Technical Editor of Outdoor and Nature Photography magazine. I care about the natural world deeply. If I’m wrong about the coming ice age, and I truly hope I am, I’d like to see the natural world be around for future generations to love, and photograph. Weather isn’t the only threat to the natural world, we are destroying it at a ridiculous speed. There is nothing more absurd than cutting down forests to raise more cattle for our hamburgers, yet we’re doing it at an alarming rate. Those forests make the oxygen we breathe! Do we want to eat our burgers while sucking on a tube from an oxygen tank?


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


Also posted in Blog, Documentary, Early Work, News, Popular Culture

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #10

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #9

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison



Letters From Prison: Part 10, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Let me talk a bit about the American justice system. The system is supposed to consider you “innocent until proven guilty.”. Notice the language: “until,” not “unless.”. Saying “until” presumes that you will be found guilty. Most of the public thinks “they wouldn’t have charged him if he wasn’t guilty.”. And as soon as you’re arrested, you’re thrown in jail and have to arrange bail money from in there, which isn’t easy. My original bail was set at $ 50,000. Those who have never tangled with the system probably don’t know how this really works. I was not expected to hand over $ 50,000 in cash, but $ 5,000 to a bondsman, who guarantees that I will show up in court. In addition to the money, the bondsman wants security. In my case I gave the bondsman the money plus the deed to my property and title to my car. The bondsmen keeps the money and returns the security when you don’t violate the terms of your bond. When I was let out of jail after thirty days, I was on house arrest. I could not leave my home except to go to see my lawyer or a doctor. That lasted a year! Presumed innocent, yeah right! After six months of being “free” on bond, we petitioned the judge to let me work, and he said I could go to my studio from 9 to 5 one day a week! My studio was a mess from the police search, and they’d confiscated a bunch of cameras and lenses, my video camera, even one of my best tripods. I had to scramble to replace the missing equipment so I could go back to work and finish books and articles I was under contract to do. They also took all of my CF cards, so I had no storage media for my images. In spite of multiple promises to return things, not a single item was ever returned. Some of the equipment was on loan from Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Sony, Tamron, Sigma, Mamiya, etc., for editorial evaluation and was not even mine. Letters from these companies to the police and prosecutor asking for the return of their property were ignored. This made it very hard for me to borrow equipment from these companies for review articles, and strained relationships that had taken years to build.

To make a long story short, there was a four year delay between my arrest and trial. When you are charged with a crime the prosecution is supposed to give you copies of all the evidence against you plus any evidence that might help exonerate you. As one of my lawyers said, getting this material in my case was “like pulling teeth.”. This material, called discovery, is supposed to be given to you promptly so you can investigate it. In my case the prosecution sent it to us in dribs and drabs over the whole four years. At one point we were just days away from trial when the prosecutor plopped a thick stack of material on our table during a hearing, admitted that some of it was exculpatory, and forced yet another delay in trial. I was arrested on June 7, 2003, but my trial did not begin until the end of. August in 2007. Yeah, speedy trial!

The first step in a trial is called voir dire, and is where you select a jury. My case was heavily publicized in the area newspapers and on TV, (and in the photo press worldwide) so finding a local jury that knew nothing about the case was impossible. We had tried for a “change of venue” where the trial is moved to an area where potential jurors wouldn’t have heard of the case, but the judge denied that motion. So we had to choose a local jury. This was surreal. One potential juror fled the courtroom in tears when told she would have to look at explicit nude photos. Another woman swore that even though she’d seen the media coverage she could put that aside and be objective. As she was about to step down and join the other jurors in the jury room, she muttered, “But he done it.”. Asked by my attorney what she meant, she said, “What he done to that girl.”. We struck her from the jury, of course! Another potential juror said he could be objective, but then said, ‘but he shouldn’t photograph them naked, it just ain’t right.”. Struck!! That was the kind of jury I was stuck with. Much of the evidence was technical, computer and digital imaging stuff, but most of the potential jurors were computer illiterate, and the judge said all he knew about computers was how to turn one on.

I said earlier that I was held in jail for thirty days; during that time the police went down to North Carolina where Marion was from and interviewed a number of her friends, and told these friends their version of things. Some believed them and wouldn’t talk to me when I got out of jail. Marion’s best friend, Samantha, had been up to Radford several times to visit Marion, and got to know me, and modeled for me with Marion and solo, and she told the police they were wrong in no uncertain terms. To give you an idea of the quality of these interviews, they gave Samantha’s last name as Hawels, which isn’t even close to her actual name – they only got the first letter right!! Other names were equally butchered, and I still have no idea who one of them was! My lawyers took to calling the police “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”. They were just so unbelievably wrong about everything! As has been said, the more outrageous a lie, the harder to prove it wrong.

Back in his early days in politics, Lyndon B. Johnson was campaigning for office in Texas, where politics are down and dirty. He said to one of his staff, “let’s spread a story that my opponent f**ks pigs.”. “But that’s not true, Lyndon!” the staffer objected. Said LBJ, “Well, let’s make the son of a bitch deny it!”. That’s how my case was. The most outrageous lies were said about me, and I was put on the defensive to deny and disprove them. As just one example, I was portrayed as a serial sex offender who lured young women into my studio, drugged, and raped them. There was not even a hint of any evidence to support this outrageous allegation, but I had to bring in many former models to fight it….


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


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

Alexandra Rouvet Duvernoy: Trumpisms – Commentary by A.H. Scott


Artwork  by Alexandra Rouvet Duvernoy, Copyright 2018



Illustrations by Alexandra Rouvet Duvernoy, Copyright 2018


Commentary by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2018


Alexandra’s astonishing image made my brain tick-tock about how people sometimes get what they deserve. And, of course, those who heralded the man of orange bought the ticket he was selling and now they”re in the same hellhole of his madness that the rest of us are in. This is “The Price Of The Ticket For A Honeymoon in Hell” and WE ALL are paying it…in tears….and for some, in cheers….. Mr. and Mrs. America got EXACTLY what they asked for – TUNE IN, FREAK OUT, GET BEATEN!

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well….maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten” – Hunter S. Thompson (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, 1971)



When he drooled like a junkyard dog, “What the Hell do you have to lose?!”

She thought it was cute and charming to her ears and let her common sense snooze

And, now shackled to that mad rat of lies she now must pay for what she decided to choose

Missy America batted her lashes without surprise, as he slimed Mexicans, McCain, Muslims and more

She said, “They are the other and me as a real American is what he adores”

Willingly she was as he came a callin’ with a Barnumesque yawn

Yet, now the damnable reality has started to dawn

Now, it’s her turn to be in for a spine-chilling shock 

Dearly disheveled we are gathered here today

The doors are sealed and guarded, so none contained within these walls can get away 

Tyrannical misogyny makes his soul drool

Would be easy to call him a fool

Let’s go for a few words more complicated and cool 

Will this madness ever cease?

Never shall it be, for Lucifer is whom he has to please

Missy America was seduced by his bravado

She figured how bad could he possibly be

He promised me a wall to keep me safe

And, an economy that would make me feel ever so great

He even said, I would be the way of great once again

How bad could he be?

What kind of pain could he possibly inflict?

The answer is dainty n’ dear Missy, “This is the rat you decided to pick!”

Not so pure she may be

Yet, compared to his intentions, she is virginal evergreen

Man with crest of bleached sheet upon his head said in a growl, “Do you take this Miss?”



Artwork by Alexandra Rouvet Duvernoy, Copyright 2018


Portrait of Alexandra Rouvet Douvernoy at Hotel Regina, Paris. Photo: Tony Ward

Portrait of Alexandra Rouvet Douvernoy at Hotel Regina, Paris. Photo: Tony Ward



About The Artist: Alexandra Rouvet Duvernoy is an artist who specializes in pen and ink drawings.  She also is a model and muse of Tony Ward. She currently resides in her native France.


About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go here


Also posted in Art, Blog, Fetish, Men, News, Popular Culture, Portraiture, women