Exhibition Announcement: Obsessions – Vintage Prints 1993 – 1998

exhibition announcement for tony ward photography show. Obsessions vintage prints 1993-1998


We invite you to join us for an exploration of human vulnerability and the timeless beauty of the unadorned form. “OBSESSIONS” is an ode to the human spirit, a celebration of the profound authenticity that lies with us.

For more information about this exhibit, link here: https://www.prismartsphiladelphia.com

Ted Kawalerski: The Saudade of Neal Slavin

portrait of the great photographer Neal Slavin by Ted Kawalerski copyright 2023
Neal Slavin. Photo: Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2023

Photography and Text by Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2023


The Saudade of Neal Slavin


On what turned out to be a beautiful morning in New York, I was walking along Greene Street in SoHo to meet with Neal Slavin in his studio.  Tony Ward publishes a monthly blog and he asked me to make a portrait of Neal for an upcoming issue.  I had no idea of how I was going to make this happen.  I actually like to work this way and just let things evolve. When I hit #62 I rang the buzzer and entered what developed into a magical mystery tour.

Neal Slavin is a legendary photographer/director that I had never met before. He is probably most famous for the pictures that he made of large groups of people. However, there is a lot more work than that.  In over forty years I have photographed many famous people and I usually work with assistants and a lot of equipment. For this adventure, I decided to work alone and low key. This proved to be the correct decision.

As soon as I made it to the second floor, I was greeted by Neal’s wife and Producer Anita Burkhart. That set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. She has the kind of persona that you immediately feel like this is going to be a real good day.  Neal made his entrance with the same vibe and we went into the main studio. Their combined living/work space is the paragon of an artist’s environment – organized disorganization.  It’s fabulous!  We sat around a long table and drank a lot of coffee.  Anita had to leave but Neal and I spent several hours talking – about a wide variety of subjects.  In particular, Neal elaborated about his relationship with Portugal.

In 1967 Neal went to Portugal via a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph an archeological site but he became more interested in the people and he created a collection of black and white images that are incredible. He discovered Saudade, which is a unique Portuguese term that refers to a melancholic longing. This was a time when Portugal was under the brutal dictatorship of Salazar and his pictures reflect Saudade.



Neal recently returned to Portugal to make a film – Saudade a love letter to Portugal which Neal refers to as “portrait of an artist in search of his soul.” He reconnected with people that he met fifty years ago and he interviewed them for the film. He also shot color stills which are an interesting contrast to the early black and white pictures. Portugal has transitioned to a much different place than when Neal was first there and he was fortunate to have the cathartic experience of personally witnessing this metamorphosis.



So, finally Neal asked “What are we doing?” Fortunately I had the answer. While we were sitting at the table I was facing a wall that had a large work print of a picture that Neal did of a group of NYFD Chaplains.  When I first walked into the studio I thought that I would do an environmental portrait of him.  After our talk ended I wanted to do a simple photo.  I asked Neal to stand in front of the work print, I moved a light panel that was on and WE made his portrait.  I drank so much coffee that I was shaking so much  I had to use a tripod and cable release. Neal looked at the results, gave his approval and within minutes we were done.

Neal Slavin is one of the most interesting people that I have ever met!  This is not hyperbolic bullshit! No attitude or egomania. Just intellect!



About The Author: Ted Kawalerski is a New York based photographer and filmmaker who has been shooting for more than 40 years for corporations, graphic design studios, and advertising agencies.

He has done assignments worldwide of AIG, Bank of America, Chevron, Dominion Resources Services, Ernst & Young, Harris Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutal, MasterCard, Medico, Pitney Bowes, Praxair, United Technologies Corporation and The Hartford.

Ted lives on the Hudson River in Sleepy Hollow, NY and is involved in an ongoing project to photograph landscapes and portraits along the entire length of the river.  This work has been exhibited in one-man shows in New York City at MV Gallery and a The Beacon Institute in Beacon, NY. Another project, “Windows” has been exhibited in NYC and Connecticut.

With two partners, Matt Stanton and Gene Mayer, Ted launched Cork Factory Films, a full service film/video production company. To access Ted’s film work, link herehttps://corkfactoryfilms.com/

Bob Shell: Images and Artificial Intelligence

Portrait of porn star Kimberly Kane photographed by famous photographer Tony Ward
Film Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2023


Images and Artificial Intelligence


Every year, Sony Corporation sponsors the Sony World Photography Prize. Thousands of photographers worldwide enter to win this prestigious award. 

This year’s winner was Boris Elgadsen who won with a portrait of two women. 

After winning, Elgadsen revealed that his winning image was not a photograph at all, but the creation of an artificial intelligence program. 

He said he was just testing to see if artistic competitions were prepared to detect AI creations. “They are not,” he said in an understatement itself worthy of a prize. 

Years ago when Photoshop first became available, a traditionalist photographer told me, “This is the death of real photography.” In a sense he was right. 

It used to be that photography represented reality, at least for the most part, because manipulations were difficult. Photoshop changed that. Now, we won’t even need a photograph or photographic elements as starting points to create an image. Just describe what you want to an AI program and it will create it for you. 

AI is also capable of generating sound. Using the Telegram app, users can create false voices. The hacker group known as Torswats offers services such as closing down a school with an AI generated bomb threat for $ 75. For $ 50 they will they will call in a report designed to have police raid a person’s house and haul him off in handcuffs. 

Beyond photography and malicious use of AI, using the app Replika anyone can create a virtual human. A boyfriend or girlfriend who will love you unconditionally, and look and act as you choose. Many users say they prefer these artificial people to the real thing. Using a VR headset, you can interact with them in a virtual reality superimposed on your own reality. The only downside — you can’t touch or be touched by them — yet!


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. 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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell related to UFO’s, click here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-film-makes-a-comeback/

Diana Desiderio: Women’s Extreme Wrestling

Text by Diana Desiderio, Copyright 2023


Photographs by Tony Ward, Copyright 2023


Tune In, Freak Out, Get Beaten


I know you have read about my evening at the Satanic Temple last Halloween; and what I have been up to the past 15 years that led up to reuniting with Tony for our “Night Swim” shoot in 2021. Now let me shed some light on how Mr. Ward and I came together for our very first shoot. Women’s Extreme Wrestling; that’s how. Anyone in Philadelphia knows that wrestling is just about as die hard as the fans, especially in these parts. I had been working for a few years in the sex industry locally at that time; and had become fast friends with Annie. Man, as I sit here and type, I am literally smiling from ear to ear thinking back on it all. What a wild time; we were off the rails and getting into all sorts of mischief. We became as thick as thieves and chasing all sorts of adventures together; as well as on our own. Annie had proposed that we join forces and create one hell of a tag team. She had already done some matches and training, and I was always one to dive in head first. We started training together and the birth of “HELLS BELLES” had ascended from the pits of the slums you told your kids to stay away from. (or so we felt) If you had ever watched GLOWW in the 80s; we def were the hardcore version of the heavy metal duo, Chainsaw and Spike meets a hint of ECW’s Sandman with a dash of Stone Cold. 

Women have always had a place in the sport. The public’s appetite for professional wrestling was enormous and had been gaining since the 1930s. Exaggerated movements giving rise to over the top body slams, and costuming and masks. This emphasis on entertainment developed as the years wore on, moved on from live events to television. And what better way then to implement the presence of bosomy bombshells in bathing suits and flamboyant costumes to add to the circus. A documentary entitled Lipstick and Dynamite provides a wonderful portrait of these early female pioneers of the wrestling ring. As far as the matches go this is purely staged choreography and the winner IS in fact decided prior; but the hits are very much so REAL. That is the part which suck a lot of viewers in, THE BEATINGS! What no one else sees is also the vicious cycle of training. Throwing yourself on your back a hundred times in a row perfecting “taking bumps”. Training is all about the repetition of the moves to get them down and perfect for showtime. In some way, it def contributed to my sado/masochism cause I very much so enjoyed the pain as well as dishing it out. Honestly, another reason as to why I was ready to dive in head first to the idea when it was first proposed to join a tag team.

At that point we were gearing to do a lot of projects, pay-per-view events, random appearances etc. One in particular was our guest spot on the “Howard Stern Show” which was coming up in the early spring of 2006. One day my tag team partner, AKA Annie Social; said that she had received an opportunity for us to shoot for Hustler Magazines Taboo for the January 2006 print edition and that we would be working with Tony Ward. We wound up shooting at our training facility in the ring we took hits in on a regular basis. The issue came out and we were on such a high from the exposure to the fans and everything in between.

Here’s were this story takes a turn. It was better for me physically  but worse for my wrestling career; you see, “it’s a mans world”, or at least it was way back when. It was so hard to be taken seriously by our colleagues, folks we did matches with and shared the ring with. Why? There will always be a stigma; or at least back then, that women in wrestling are just ring rats with ZERO talent. Ring rats are just groupies of the wrestling world for those who are familiar with the lingo. For a woman like me with the temper I did have in those days, that type of ridicule was not flying. And just like that, as I speak of “flying”; I had done a match were I jumped off the top ropes and wasn’t caught correctly and suffered a pretty decent injury to my neck and upper back. Nothing was taken care of medically cause the waivers for a lot of indy matches left you up to your own “you wanna take hits then take em” vibe if you catch my drift.

Do I regret it? ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY NOT! I would do it all over again and not trade any of it in for the world. Every path I have journeyed down has taken me to where I am right in this moment. Everyone I’ve met along the way and all of the experiences both good and bad kept paving the way to today. I definitely back what Hunter S Thompson said in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; “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 conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”


About The Author: Diana Desiderio  is a motion picture production manager based in Philadelphia. To access additional articles by Diana Desiderio, click here: https://tonyward.com/night-swim/

Bob Shell: Film Makes A Comeback

Birds eye View Film photograph of red vintage Porsche 911
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 1985

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2023


Film Makes a Comeback


For years in the 1980’s and 1990’s I wrote for an industry publication named Photo Industry Reporter. Because it was for photographic dealers only, it didn’t conflict with my job as Editor In Chief at SHUTTERBUG, a consumer magazine. 

I loved writing for Rudy Maschke and Ed Wagner, who owned and operated it. Both men are gone now. When both were in their 80’s they sold the magazine to Jerry Grossman, formerly an executive at Nikon. When the whole industry changed, the magazine changed, too. Now it’s named Digital Imaging Reporter (www.PIR.com). Because of my long history with the publication, they send it to me, and it helps keep me up on what’s happening in the photo industry. 

In the latest issue, Jerry Grossman wrote an interesting editorial about the latest trend in photography — film. Yes, the younger generation has discovered the joys of film photography. So much so, in fact, that film is in short supply. 

Pentax, one of the oldest camera manufacturers, and now part of Ricoh, has just announced a project to develop a new line of film cameras. Can the other camera makers be far behind? 

Not so many years ago, used film cameras were very difficult to sell. Now prices on the classic film cameras from companies like Canon, Nikon, Minolta (now Sony’s camera division), Pentax, Olympus, Hasselblad, Mamiya, and many others are going up. 

Maybe the ones I have in storage will have value when I’m able to sell them, or use them again. 

This increased interest in film has revived its companion, darkroom work. A few years ago you couldn’t give away darkroom equipment. I know, I tried. I had a very elaborate darkroom with two enlargers, automated film and print processors, safelights, and everything else to process film and make prints. I tried to sell it all, with zero success. 

If I still had it today, I could probably sell it easily. 

The return of interest in film photography parallels the interest in vinyl LPs, turntables, tube amplifiers, all the audiophile stuff that was once called ‘Hi-Fi’. Many recording artists are issuing their music on vinyl today, some issuing only on vinyl. I can verify that vinyl albums played on quality turntables through tube amplifiers and topnotch speakers have a ‘warmer’ sound. 

Similarly, images photographed on film with high quality lenses and printed on high quality photographic paper with a high silver content have a unique look that can’t be duplicated digitally. 

With the return of darkroom, the old argument over which kind of enlarger will return. Are condenser enlargers that send a focused beam of light through the negative better than diffuser enlargers that bathe the negative in unfocused, diffuse light? Photographers used to argue about that late into the night. I’ve owned and used both, but preferred the diffusion systems because they produced smoother tones to my eye and suppressed dust on negatives, cutting down on laborious print spotting. 

My two enlargers were a Zone VI 5 X 7 that used a cold light head, and a Saunders/LPL 4 X 5 that used interchangeable diffusers for different negative sizes. Much of my commercial work was made on 4 X 5 inch film with a Toyo studio camera or my 4 X 5 Zone VI field camera using Schneider-Kreuznach lenses. I tried other makes but couldn’t beat the image quality of the Schneiders. I also had an old Kodak 2D 8 X 10 camera made in 1918. I fitted it with a Voigtlander 300 mm Apo-Lanthar lens in a Compur Electronic shutter. Every once in a blue moon a client would want an 8 X 10 transparency. 

Once a magazine demanded an 8 X 10 transparency. I photographed it in an all-day studio session on Fujichrome Velvia for maximum color punch. Believe me, an 8 X 10 Velvia on a lightbox will practically punch your eyes out. The results, a three-quarters view of a nude holding a bunch of flowers, was lovely. Then the magazine printed it about 1 X 1 1/4 inches on the page! I could have shot it in 35 mm and it would have looked fine at that size. I’d expected full page. Photo editors are strange beasts! 

But, once again I seem to have drifted off topic. Due to the increased demand for film, film manufactures are working hard to meet demand. That’s not as easy as you might think, because film, particularly color film, can’t just me made, packaged, and shipped. Like fine whisky, film must be aged before sale. I’ve visited most of the major film makers and seen their aging vaults. I don’t know if they still do, but Kodak used to age their film deep underground in old salt mines. The temperature was constant down there, and the salt blocked most cosmic rays that can fog film, particularly high sensitivity films. Because of the need to scale up manufacturing again and the aging process, it may take film companies a while to catch up to greater demand. Be patient.


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. 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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell related to UFO’s, click here: https://tonyward.com/good-enough/