Category Archives: Portraiture

Bob Shell: American Justice System

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Bob-Shell_portrait-of_marion_franklin_american-justice-system

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #20

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM

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In 1923 the great American journalist H. L. Mencken wrote:

You will find as many intelligent and honest men in the average prison as you will find in the average club, and when it comes to courage, enterprise, and determination — in brief the special virtues which mark the superior man — you will probably find many more.

Here is Menckin’s description of a trial:

With a crowd of poltroons in the jury box venting their envious hatred of enterprise and daring upon a man who, at worst, is at least as decent as they are: with a scoundrel in the bench lording over a scoundrel in the dock because the latter is less clever than he is.

Menckin pretty much nailed the “American Justice System,” which has never really been about justice, if we’re honest about it. A real justice system would provide the accused with resources equal to those of the prosecution. A person should not be forced to bankrupt himself to defend against false charges. When you are accused of a crime. the state martials all its resources against you, and unless you are rich, you most likely can’t come up with equivalent resources. Criminal investigators, expert witnesses, paralegals, and good criminal lawyers are very expensive. When I was charged I contacted the best criminal lawyer I knew of. He listened to my story and asked if I could raise several million dollars, and when I said no, he said that I couldn’t afford him. As actor Robert Blake said, “In America today you are presumed innocent until you are found broke.”.

And think about that presumption of innocence. In the USA you are “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”. Note the use of the word “until” which carries the implication that you WILL be proven guilty. The word should be “unless.”. But in most cases you will be found guilty because most people think “they wouldn’t have charged him if he didn’t do it.”

Just how did I end up in prison at the age of 60 with a 32 1/2 year sentence? I’d had my studio in Radford, Virginia since the end of the 1970s. I had been working for Shutterbug magazine for years, first in the 70s as a columnist, then as Technical Editor, and in 1991 I became Editor in Chief, and held that position until I “retired” in 2001, staying on as Editor At Large. Actually, “retired” was a euphemism for ” forced out in a palace coup.”. I first had my studio in Radford starting in 1981, when I took over an existing business that was studio/photo shop. I had been working for Gentry Studios in Blacksburg. Gentry also had a location in Radford and had decided to close it. I took the risk and took it over. At first I made hardly any money there, but in time it picked up and by the time Shutterbug offered me the Editor’s job it was doing well enough that I was able to sell the business. We were living on a small farm at the time, so we sold the farm and bought a house in Radford. (Oddly enough, we sold the farm back to the man we’d bought it from fifteen years earlier. It was his wife’s old home place and she was homesick for it.)

My original Radford studio was in downtown just a block off main street. Once I was living in town, I went looking for a new studio and found it at 239 West Main Street, just a couple of blocks from the police station.

Let me make something clear, during all those years I worked for Patch Communications, publisher of Shutterbug, PhotoPRO, Outdoor and Nature Photography, and other magazines I was never an employee. My company, Bob Shell Ltd., contracted with Patch for my services. This arrangement allowed me to work from my home office and set my own hours, for a flat monthly fee. It saved Patch money, too, since they didn’t have to provide me benefits. I took care of my own medical insurance and dealt with the IRS myself. I valued my freedom and my right to take time off whenever I wanted without being tied down to an office.

In 1991 I found the ideal studio location in a storefront between a drugstore and an antique shop. The space was about 40 X 80. I wanted a big space because I wanted it to be a teaching studio where I could hold my studio lighting and posing workshops. With the help of a friend I built a wall across the front for a small office, and built a dressing room in back, with big mirrors for the models. There was already a storage room and restroom in the back. The same friend and I remodeled the restroom. The floor was covered with old wall-to-wall carpet, which was in terrible shape. I hired a couple of strong young college men to take up the carpet, which had to be scraped up with shovels, and to use a big commercial sander to sand the wood floor smooth. Then I painted all the walls and floor with white pigmented shellac, which I’d used before and is very durable. I then approached photo equipment companies to loan me equipment and props, which they were all too glad to do because they knew my students would buy equipment they had used in my workshops. It was a win-win for them and me. I soon had s studio bulging with equipment and props. The studio was big enough that I could have three sets going at once. To keep the flash units on one set from interfering with another I used Wein Products infrared flash triggers, and later radio slaves. My studio workshops were held three or four days a year, each for two days on a weekend.

In the late 80s I’d bought a tract of forest land and had a road built into it and began conducting outdoor workshops there. It was beautiful forest, and my plan was (and still is) to put a house or cabin there at some point.

On June 3, 2003, I returned to my studio in the evening and found my girlfriend, Marion Franklin, passed out. When I could not awaken her I called 911 and then my nightmare began. I was accused of killing her based on false testimony of an incompetent medical examiner, and I sit here today because the man is too stubborn to admit that he was wrong. That’s today’s American Justice System.

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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 herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/08/bob-shell-warning-environmentalist-rant/

 

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Catherine Trifiletti: Lookbook Summer 2018

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Lookbook: Summer 2018

 

 

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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To access the Catherine Trifiletti Lookbook Summer 2018. click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/gallery/catherine-trifiletti-design/

 

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Mikala Mikrut: I Hope You Read Her Eyes

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Sabrina

 

 

Mikala Mikrut: Poetry of the Day, Copyright 2018

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So I wrote this poem for a guy friend who recently started a relationship with Sabrina, one of my best friends and this was my response when he was reading one of her books and said “I will read whatever she says”:
 
I HOPE YOU READ HER EYES
 
Well then I hope you read her eyes, and understand the meaning behind every slight difference in each glance. I hope you read her laugh and her imperfections and her tears. I hope you hold her so gently that her binding never weakens.
Highlight your favorite passages to refer back to when she feels worthless. Write all of your profound and witty comments in her margins, but please remember that you are not the author.
I hope you read between the lines of her stories. I hope you read her humor and her unworldly beauty and her divinity. I hope that you don’t neglect your own reality for her enchantment.
She is the best part of my life, and I hope you bring what she finally deserves in her next chapter.
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About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a sophomore enrolled at Southern Utah University and  summer intern at Catherine Trifliletti Design, Las Vegas. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/07/mikala-mikrut-self-love/
 
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Bob Shell: My Years at Shutterbug

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Shutterbug: 1973 – 2018

 

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison # 18

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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MY YEARS AT SHUTTERBUG

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My history with Shutterbug began in the mid-70s. I don’t even remember exactly when I wrote my first article for them. The magazine was founded by Glenn Patch as Shutterbug Ads, and was originally a tabloid printed on yellow paper (although the very first issue, which I still have, was printed on white paper), and was a buy/sell newspaper made up of classified ads for photo equipment and supplies. Editorial content came later, and originally wasn’t of very high quality. At some point, once editorial content became more important, I was hired as Technical Editor, to bring the accuracy of the adticles up to a higher standard to compete with the major photo magazines. But the magazine needed an editor, and I didn’t have the time to do that job and run my studio. Glenn asked me to find one, and I called my old friend Norman Rothschild, who recommended George Berkowitz, former Editor of Popular Photography magazine, then retired. We contacted George and he took the job. But he hated the Shutterbug Ads name and got it changed to Photographic News. It was published under that name for a year or so, but circulation declined, George left, and the magazine was renamed Shutterbug, still in tabloid newspaper format. I continued as Technical Editor. The next Editor was Jack Naylor, prominent photo historian and owner of the largest camera collection in private hands in the world. Jack lived in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and had no interest in moving to Titusville, Florida, where Shutterbug was based, so he flew down one week a month to put the book together (in the magazine business magazines are called books). Jack was independently wealthy from a major auto parts manufacturing business with factories worldwide, and so he took the job out of love of photography. He certainly didn’t need the money. Eventually he got bored with the job and quit. For a while the magazine drifted along without an editor, but I kept being given more responsibility, and in 1991 I was offered the job of Editor. I accepted, but on the condition that I could work from my home office in Radford, Virginia. I ran the magazine, going down to Titusville several times a year for staff meetings, using FedEx to get my material there, later going to fax, and still later to email attachments and upload to their server.

During my years as Editor the magazine grew every year, and the classified ads became less and less important as a source of income, displaced by the Internet, so editorial content became more and more important. In 1997 Glenn, who’d declared for years that Shutterbug was never going to be sold, sold the magazine to a media conglomerate in NYC called Primedia. I was very upset by this because I’d said many times that if the magazine was sold I wanted a chance to put together an offer. I pretty much knew my days were numbered when they said, “We’re not going to change anything,” and promptly proceeded to change everything. They knew less than zip about the photography business, and put a man in as Publisher whose ideas of where the magazine should go and mine were like oil and water. After photokina 2000 I got a phone call from this guy telling me he was replacing me with someone else as Editor. He really didn’t have the authority to do that, and when I went up to NYC to talk to the Primedia people it became clear that they had been told that I wanted to retire. I could have dragged the whole sordid mess into court, but that might have hurt the magazine I’d devoted my life to, and made it impossible for me to continue as Editor anyway, so I chose to bow out gracefully. Many advertisers contacted me with offers to protest by pulling their advertising, but I told them not to. I didn’t want to hurt Shutterbug. The last thing I wanted was to damage the magazine, so I negotiated a quiet settlement that allowed me to continue as Editor At Large. It hurt me badly financially, because it paid less than half what I’d made as Editor, but at the same time freed me to write for other magazines, so I contacted my friend Bill Hurter at Rangefinder. I’d given Bill work when he was between jobs and he reciprocated by giving me work writing for Rangefinder, which he was then running. I had friends worldwide in the photo magazine world, so I was soon writing for Zoom (Italy), Color Foto (Germany), Photo Answers and Amateur Photographer (England), Asahi Photo (Japan), Asian Photographer (India), Photomagazin (Russia), and some others I’ve no doubt forgotten, as well as for Photo Techniques, Photo Electronic Imaging, Professional Photographer, and Digital Camera in the USA. I was also the Photo Guru for BestStuff.com and their short-lived print magazine. I couldn’t write for other magazines while still Editor at Shutterbug — my contract didn’t allow it — but my new contract allowed me to write for anyone who wanted me. Soon I was bringing in more money than before the double-cross. Of course, I was still writing my obligatory two articles a month for Shutterbug. And I was writing two or three books a year.

Then in June of 2003, disaster struck. My young girlfriend Marion Franklin died of an apparent drug overdose taken while I was out getting dinner and I was accused by the Radford Police of causing her death. I was thrown in jail and it took 30 days for friends to arrange my bond and get me out. My mother had died a month before Marion and left me money, or I wouldn’t have had the bail money. When I got home I found a letter from the NY office waiting for me saying that “due to the accusations” my contract was terminated. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? But even though Shutterbug let me down, Joe White, then Editor at Photo Techniques, kept me on writing lighting articles and Digital Camera gave me the job of Technical Editor, so I had work. Plus I got contracts to write books for several publishers, so the wolf was kept away from the door.

After writing the above I received some terrible news. Earlier this year Shutterbug was sold to a British media conglomerate. Their first move was to lay off our best people, including the Managing Editor. Then, in the June issue they announced that they were taking the magazine bimonthly, beginning with the July/August issue. I’ve just learned that the July/August issue will never appear. They’ve shut the magazine down. Buying a successful and profitable magazine only to shut it down makes no sense at all. I feel like my best friend just died. R.I.P. Shutterbug 1973 – 2018. Dead at age 45.

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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 herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-dead-cats-in-the-studio-yikes/

 

 

 

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A.H. Scott: By George, He’s Got it!

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The Petulant Puppet by Thomcat23

 

Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2018

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Illustration by Thomcat23, Copyright 2018

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For me, this quote below was truly the kicker that set my head spinning! You can’t make this craziness from his lips up. Unbelievable!

 

Standing in front of the VFW Convention last Tuesday, he actually said this:

 “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” – Donald J. Trump, President of The United States, Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, July 24th, 2018

 70 years ago a work of fiction was written, but reality is always stranger than anything one can come up with in their imagination:

 “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” – George Orwell, “1984”, published 1949

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 By George, He’s Got It!

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Happening now, is not what you see

Happening now, is not what you hear

Pay attention only to the billboard on the wall with the one of tiny hands and mind that is so small

Pied piper he may never be

But, leader is the only one he is as you can see

Free press is the enemy

Stenographers are the friend of He

We must praise the leader, for He is law

Truth and justice cannot be something we saw

By George, he’s got it!

He is ever so wise

Controlling the masses with his lies

Look at the shiny orb he holds in his hands

It glistens with xenophobia and shimmers with manufactured rage

All he does hypnotizes the senses

The takeover of the muddled mind is going as planned

This is his moment

He is the CHOSEN man

Pay attention to the wall of division

Your neighbor is not your equal

Report them in accordance to the leader

Speak only of the agenda repeated like parrots

Never step out of line or think for yourself

Isn’t it better to let the leader of the state take care of those little agitations, formerly known as rights and freedoms?

Just listen to the mantra for solace and control

By George, he’s got it!

Let the cloud of conformity mollify your soul

Obey the voice of the state and you can never go wrong

Pen scratched against history has cast a shadow ever so long

Seventy-years on, the bell tolls strong

By George, he’s got it!

Now, we are through the looking glass

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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: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-the-torch/

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About The Illustrator: Thomcat23 is a new contributing artist at Tony Ward Studio. The owner of a hyperactive imagination, Thomcat23 creates images based on a wide variety of categories. Everything from cartoons to politics are mangled, jumbled, smashed, merged and synthesized to create colorful and interesting works of art. The pop surrealist approach Thomcat23, stems from his formal training as a graphic designer and his love of comic book-style pen and ink illustration he’s sharpened over the years. He has a wide variety of influence, which include Jack Kirby and Renee Magritte. To access more of Thomcat 23’s work, follow him on Instagram @Thomcat23. Or Facebook: The Art of Thomcat23.

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