Shooting Stars: Looking Ahead to Look3

Photograph by James Nachtwey.
Photograph by James Nachtwey from his exhibition, "The Struggle to Live–The Fight Against TB."

Get ready– camera-wielding shutterbugs are about to descend on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall to once again bask in Look3, Festival of the Photograph’s  “three days of peace, love, and photography.” Last June, Look3 proved it was more than a one-shot wonder when it wowed lens lovers with a second year of dazzling exhibits, workshops, and eye-opening events. This year’s festival promises to make downtown even more picture-esque.

Although Look3’s main events, like the on-stage “Insight Conversations” with its legacy photographers–this year, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, and Sylvia Plachy–require tickets, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the festival without spending a cent.

For instance, all of the official FOP and affiliated photography exhibitions– 20+ shows in all– are free. Most open June 5, allowing locals to get an eyeful before Look3’s attendees mob the galleries, June11-13. In addition to the legacy photographers’ showcases, several exhibitions are particularly noteworthy.

James Nachtwey, who last year brought Charlottesville to its knees with his poignant images and Paramount interview, returns with a new body of work, “Struggle to Live–The Fight Against TB,” which hangs at 101 E. Main St. Highlighting the resurgence of drug-resistant tuberculosis around the world, the project is the result of Nachtwey’s 2007 TED prize “wish,” which enabled him to use new media to give exposure to a pressing global issue. You can learn more at a free breakfast reception June 13 at 9:30am.

New to Look3 this year is the World Press Photo Exhibition, which displays the 2009 winners of World Press Photo’s international photojournalism competition. On view at 106 E. Main St, the show opens June 11 with a free gallery reception and press conference, 5-6:30pm, at which four of the winning photographers will be present.

Perhaps the best news for frugal photo-philes, though, is Look3’s alliance with Fridays After Five to offer a free evening of music and photography at the Pavilion on June 12. Stroll down the Mall through Look3’s “Trees” exhibition, featuring Tom Mangelsen’s jaw-dropping wildlife images, stop to view Paolo Pellegrin’s show, “As I Lay Dying,” at the Free Speech Wall, and then get your groove on with New York-based Brazilian band, Forro in the Dark, which kicks off at 6:30pm.

At 9pm, Look3’s “Shots” program–in past years, a ticketed event–will illuminate the Pavilion’s giant screen with images by established and up-and-coming photographers. So, come for the music and stay for the shots!

Look3, Festival of the Photograph takes place June 11-13. Most of the festival’s gallery exhibitions, however, open June 5 and remain on view through the end of the month. For more information and a full schedule of Look3 events, visit or call 977-3687.