Shooting range: What to see for free at Look3

Last June, after three years of “three days of peace, love, and photography,” photo fans in Charlottesville were left with just a little bit of “like.” The town wasn’t completely bereft, given that Steve Winter’s jungle cats prowled among the Downtown Mall’s trees, and in-the-groove galleries served up photo exhibits like clockwork. But gone were the on-stage interviews with renowned artists, the stunning slideshows at the Pavilion, and the throngs of camera-laden shutterbugs flocking to every f-stop that Look3: Festival of the Photograph offered.

Fortunately, Look3 didn’t put the lens cap on forever, and this year the Festival of the Photograph returns June 9-11 to celebrate the still image in its myriad forms. Even if you don’t spring for the $125 Festival pass or buy single-event tickets (although watching Sally Mann interview Nan Goldin at the Paramount is probably worth opening your wallet), Look3 offers numerous ways to get your photo fix for free.

Happily, locals can enjoy the Festival’s eye-opening photography shows before the throngs arrive since Look3 is hosting First Friday openings on June 3. Among the must-sees are exhibits by this year’s three "INsight" artists: Nan Goldin’s oh-so-intimate “Scopophilia” at Second Street Gallery; Antonin Kratochvil's oh-so-emotionally complex “Domovino: Homeland” at 305 W. Main Street; and Massimo Vitali’s oh-so-socially rich “Natural Habitats” at Chroma Projects. (Word to the wise: if you miss their interviews at the Paramount, the artists will hold  book-signings following their talks at other venues.)

Other noteworthy Look3 shows include Christopher Anderson’s “SON” at Warm Springs Gallery, LaToya Ruby Frazier’s “Notion of Family” at the McGuffey Art Center, and the “World Press Photo 11” exhibit, also at McGuffey. Need a free nosh? The Prime Photo Collective hosts a pancake breakfast to open its show at Random Row Books on June 10, and med-tech company BD holds a breakfast reception for its world-health exhibit at 105 S. First Street on June 11.

But why go indoors? This year’s “Trees” exhibit features the staggering aerial photography of George Steinmetz. Pick up a laminated caption guide at either end of the Downtown Mall to find out what you’re seeing. Another al fresco treats is Look3’s cutting-edge “Shots” slideshow, offered free of charge at the Pavilion following Fridays After Five on June 10. Come for the music; stay for the really big pictures!

Look3— bringing free love back to town!

For more information about Look3: Festival of the Photograph’s artists, exhibits, workshops, and events (and to purchase tickets), visit or call 977-3687.