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Inspiring the next generation of photographers at LOOK3

Ernesto Bazan / Courtesy the artist via LOOK3

This past weekend the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, welcomed the photography community for LOOK3: Festival of the Photograph. Hundreds of beautiful and moving photos were on display as part of over a dozen exhibits and presentations, providing nuggets of inspiration around every corner. Even the trees along Charlottesville’s downtown mall were transformed into open-air galleries, as giant prints by David Doubilet hung between their branches.

During interviews and presentations, images depicting powerful stories were given additional meaning when the photographers candidly spoke about their own experience working on their project. Lynsey Addario presented a collection of her work of more than a decade on women’s rights in Afghanistan, rape in Congo and closing with maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. Her touching stories of compassion for her subjects moved the audience to a standing ovation.

As the festival concluded its fifth installment, there was no doubt about the power of photography in telling stories. While those with storied careers were celebrated, there was also a refreshing reminder about the importance of the future of photography for those getting into the field. Two of the featured photographers touched on this in their presentations. On opening night, Stanley Greene was asked about the fact that he frequently recommends the work of upcoming photographers to his own editors, even those working on the same topic as him. Greene responded:

I believe in the community of photography. I believe in the idea of photography. I believe we have to give each other a helping hand. It’s like passing a baton or the handing off of the torch. I think it’s important to bring up photographers who have fallen through the cracks. It’s important for all of us, when we discover talent, to try and help them.

Stanley Greene/NOOR via LOOK3

Kabul, Afghanistan - July 2008 -- Russian Cultural Center

Stanley Greene / NOOR via LOOK3

Soukh ash-Shouyoukh, Northern Iraq -- April 2004 -- Road side bombing attack on a pipe-line.

The following day, photographer Ernesto Bazan echoed Greene’s comments when he eloquently encouraged budding photographers to follow their passion. Bazan followed his to Cuba, which had led to 14 years of working and living in the country. He said:

Be imaginative, be curious, be surreal, be yourself.

Do not ever lean on preconceived ideas or established schemes.

Let doubt always hover on in your soul: it's so wise and beautiful to change your mind. Find your voice. As I like to say: Keep the rest of your body still attached to the your heart and soul. You are the future, our future.

While the LOOK3 events ended this past weekend, all the exhibits are open to the public and will be up through the rest of June. For the complete list of exhibits and details, visit the LOOK3 website. For a play-by-play of the photographer interviews and presentations, visit the LOOK3 blog.

Ernesto Bazan / Courtesy the artist via LOOK3