For three days this week, photo enthusiasts from around the world will descend on the tree-lined downtown district of Charlottesville, Va. Working professionals and amateurs will mill about the neighborhood's exhibition spaces, portfolio review venues, workshops, performance halls and cafes alongside icons and living legends. The seventh-annual LOOK3 Festival, which plays off the tagline of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival, promises a weekend of "peace, love and photography" — presumably with less mud wrestling and mind-altering experiences.
Though not necessarily. In addition to showcasing work from a diverse range of artists, "we also wanted to create a kind of Happening," Melissa Harris tells TIME. She is the Editor-in-Chief at Aperture Foundation and co-curated this year's festival alongside Yolanda Cuomo, Creative Director at Yolanda Cuomo Design and designer of some of the strongest photo books of the last three decades.
Together, they focused on culling exhibitions that are "provocatively experiential and at times intrinsically site-specific," says Harris. "We wanted to play with scale and different media and textures."
National Geographic photographer Tim Laman, for instance, who spent a decade documenting every known species of the Birds-of-Paradise, will be exhibiting his work on large banners suspended high in the trees of Charlottesville’s outdoor pedestrian mall.
This year promises more featured 'INsight Artists' than in years past, including Gregory Crewdson, Susan Meiselas, Richard Misrach, Michael Nichols, Josef Koudelka and Carrie Mae Weems. In addition to their exhibitions, each of these influential photographers will participate in onstage conversations with an interviewer and large-scale projections of their work in the background.
"The artists are super intelligent and eloquent," Harris says, "and we wanted to give them time onstage to present the breadth of their work, so viewers who are not aware of it take away a larger context."
On Friday and Saturday night, there will be a two-hour outdoor multimedia projection of a variety of innovative projects. Many of these artists, whose work lies at the intersection of photojournalism and fine art, have appeared on LightBox, including Nina Berman, Pari Dukovic, Natan Dvir, Donna Ferrato, Stanley Greene, Zhang Kechun, Lisa Kereszi, Paolo Pellegrin, Eugene Richards, Shaul Schwarz, Mikhail Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse, Will Steacy and Peter van Agtmael.
"There is definitely not a theme," Harris adds. "LOOK3 is a celebration of each individual artist and his or her respective work and voice."
LOOK3: The Festival of the Photograph will be held in Charlottesville, Va. from June 13 - 15, 2013.
Eugene Reznik is a Brooklyn-based photographer and writer. Follow him on Twitter @eugene_reznik.