Transitions: Summer to Fall, MVS to LOOK3

Sept 2015 grid-3

I am proud announce that I have accepted the position Executive Director of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph.  This is an extraordinary professional opportunity, one that returns me to my roots of education and community.

LOOK3 is a beloved festival that occurs each June in the historic town of Charlottesville, Virginia, nestled against the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains.  LOOK3 was born out of the long-held backyard slide shows hosted by Michael “Nick” Nichols, the last one held in 2005.  The next year, the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph moved into town, its reach expanded and was established as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation in Charlottesville and the rest, as they say, is ‘history.’  LOOK3 hosted its first Festival (dubbed “3 days of peace, love, and photography”) in 2007.

Today LOOK3 celebrates the vision of exceptional photographers, ignites conversations about critical issues and fosters the next generation of artists.  I invite you to visit our website to learn more about the artistic history of the Festival, sign up for our mailing list and plan now to join us the week of June 13th, 2016, in Charlottesville.

The 15th of September I begin planning programming for our 10th anniversary year (L3X).  I’d love to hear from those of you who have attended, as well as those who have yet to experience LOOK3.  Whose work inspires you?  What topics engage you?  What do you wish to learn about photography today?  Share your thoughts with me at

With this commitment to the growth of our Festival, I will not begin any new private mentoring relationships.  I direct those of you wishing to study with me to attend my public lectures and portfolio review events.  My desire to share my knowledge and awareness of our industry never waivers and educational workshops are a valuable and satisfying learning experience.  Next up on the calendar: I will be teaching at Aperture later this month, and speaking at PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo in October.

A new journey begins! I will continue to update you monthly via this Newsletter and post often on Instagram (please follow @maryvirginiaswanson AND @look3festival).  This website will continue to be updated with advice for photographers and notice of my forthcoming publications and upcoming public events.  I hope our paths cross soon.

– Mary Virginia Swanson


  1. Molly Roberts, Director of Photography offering advice during LOOK3 2015 Portfolio Reviews.
  2. Michael “Nick” Nichols on the Paramount stage, LOOK3 2013
  3. LOOK3 2015 Marquee, of the Historic Paramount Theater on the Downtown Pedestrian Mall, Charlottesville.
  4. Josef Koudelka with curator Anne Wilkes Tucker, who interviewed him on the Paramount Stage at LOOK3 2013.
  5. INSPIRATIONS on MVS’ office wall in Tucson:  “Big Love” pass from LOOK3 2013 draped over a portrait of Alfred Stieglitz, Esq. by Alvin Langdon Coburn, Camera Work, January 1908.


  1. Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park.
  2. Virginia-based artist Eliot Dudik shares the publication of a portfolio of his 8″x20″ landscapes of Civil War Battlefields in the July/August 2015 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.  Eliot was the recipient of the 2014 PhotoNOLA prize for this work, and it will be featured in an exhibition at the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery during PhotoNOLA 2015.
  3. Civil War Graveyard, Fredericksburg.
  4. Candela Gallery and Books, downtown Richmond.
  5. “Virginia is for Lovers” seen in Spotsylvania Courthouse Square.
  6. Golden hour near Crozet, Virginia.

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