Look3 Festival of the Photograph

A man photographs the exhibition of sports photographer, and one of the festival's featured artists, Walter Iooss called, "The Sporting Life," at The Haven in downtown Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, June 13, 2015. (Photography by Scott P. Yates)

Every year along the idyllic pedestrian mall of downtown Charlottesville, Va., hordes of photographers gather to geek out for three days of "peace, love, and photography." The mission of Look3 Festival of the Photograph is to celebrate "the vision of extraordinary photographers, ignite conversations about critical issues, and foster the next generation of artists," according the non-profit's website. And what a celebration it is.

Huge photographs hang from trees along the mall. They hang from church rafters down the street. Or they are nestled in a quiet alcove of an open garage. For a good part of the summer, any nook or cranny of downtown Charlottesville could be transformed into a gallery for world-class photography. The pavilion at the end of the mall hosts nighttime projections of substantive and provocative works by some of the world’s renowned photographers and those photographers just starting out.

I've known about the festival for some years now, but, for one excuse or another, I never got around to attending. Until this year. My good friend and fellow photographer, Ian, dropped me a note earlier in the week letting me know he was on his way to the festival. To know a fellow comrade was going to be there too was just the fire under my ass I needed. While there I basked in the glow of some of my photographic heroes: Ron Haviv, David Alan Harvey, Pete Muller, James Estrin, Kathy Ryan. In addition to those whose faces and bylines I recognize from the newspapers and magazines, I'm sure I brushed elbows with some who do just as impactful work.

Most amongst those who haven't attained international icon-status, YET, were the new friends I met and with whom I spent most of the day: my old buddy Ian, Lauren, Devin, Kymmi, and Woong Jae. You can see them in most of my photos here.

As if all that weren’t enough for a kick-ass day, I got to borrow, for free-no-strings-attached, a Leica M (Type 240) with a Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 lens for the day! The trusting folks at the Leica table added the no-melt icing on my multi-layer cake of a day. (I’m a photographer, not a metaphor factory). Most of the photographs here were made with that gear, with a few exceptions. I won’t list which images were made with what camera, because after all, the story matters most. The best camera is the one that’s in your hands. (But, still, a Leica is a pretty kick-butt camera!)