Brian-OShea / Corbis
Benjamin Myers / Corbis
Benjamin Myers / Corbis
Brendan Hoffman / Corbis
During the three days of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, the charm and antiquity of Charlottesville, Virginia will coalesce with creativity and inspiration as renowned photographers gather to connect, share, and celebrate their work.
Andrew Owen, managing director of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, talks to Corbis about attracting photographer legends to the sweet South.
For those who have never attended LOOK3, how would you describe it in one sentence?
Imagine a place where a thousand of your best photo friends and heroes have taken over an artsy southern town, the streets are closed down to cars, and over three days you take in a dozen gallery exhibits, eat at outdoor cafes between talks by legendary photographers, see new work from photographers working all over the world, and return home exhausted and inspired.
Each year LOOK3 amazes with an impressive photographer lineup; how are the artists chosen? What about the curators and the yearly theme?
LOOK3 is all about heart and soul, so I think that plays heavily into the curator’s decisions about who they want to bring to the stage. What photographers do they love? Who do they want to celebrate? And what would make for a great three-day lineup? The big idea is that LOOK3 attendees walk away having fallen in love with photography all over again. We’re trying to create an “experience.” So to that end, the curators are always looking for the right mix of artists, from the legends down to the undiscovered young talent.
There’s also a lot of back-and-forth and discussion with the LOOK3 Board of Advisors throughout the year. We meet annually in New York to look at hundreds of shows to consider that come in from friends and colleagues.
This festival has grown incredibly over the last few years, yet still has a laid back, lovin’ feel to it. How have you managed to keep it so authentic?
Our team has a clear vision for what we want LOOK3 to be. It may change up each year with new artists and the format may shift, but we’re extremely conscious of our spirit and our vibe. And we’ve built a reputation so the people who come back year after year reinforce that authenticity. It’s not a festival for people who want to see the latest gear, for instance. We give the festival the broad parameters, but the authenticity and lovin’ feel to it have a lot to do with the eleven hundred attendees who create it. It also has to do with Charlottesville. When you take away cars and traffic, people become super nice to each other.
What differentiates LOOK3 from other festivals?
From my experience of other festivals I would say two things (that end up going hand in hand) stand out that make LOOK3 different. The first is that we bring artists on-stage and show their work bigger and brighter and more beautiful than they’ve ever seen their work before. And when they talk about their work, and when they share the stories behind their photographs, there’s a gravitas and an elegance to this experience that is pretty singular. The Paramount Theater, where we have all these shows, is a big part of the magic. It’s an incredibly beautiful theater, and it’s just one of the amazing venues we are able to use. And the second thing that makes LOOK3 unique: downtown Charlottesville. LOOK3 isn’t scattered all over a big city. It’s all contained within a quarter mile stretch of restaurants, galleries, theaters, coffee shops, and boutique stores. This kind of layout really builds the energy, which snowballs over the three days.
We’re very excited to partner with LOOK3 on the social media side of the festival by broadcasting events to the LOOK3 blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter feed. What do you think about replicating such a tangible experience in the digital space?
To experience LOOK3 at its best, you need to be here in person. But there’s such a bubbling over of connections, ideas, images, and moments of inspiration that we have to get some of that good juju out to the people who aren’t in Charlottesville. That’s where Corbis comes into play, and I’m thrilled about our second year together of spreading the experience of LOOK3 out into the digital space. We have big plans for the #look3festival hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to convey all the daily events, and we’ll be posting on Facebook as well. The blog, however, will be ground zero for all the best coverage of the festival so be sure to keep that bookmarked over the weekend. It will be an amazing three days, and I’m really grateful for the support from Corbis to extend the reach of the event and connect with photography lovers all over the world.
Thanks Andrew and see you soon in Charlottesville!
Learn more about the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph:
Win a pass to Look3 2012: Name 3 of the 6 photographers we interviewed at Look3 last year and post your answers in the comments section below.
(NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. May 28-31, 2012. Must be a US resident and over 18. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Go here for full rules.)