LOOK3: Highlights

Intermittent rain showers which cooled the summer Piedmont humidity did not detract from the goings on at LOOK3.  Now that I’ve been to my share of photofestivals I will say what LOOK has going for it that few of the others that I’ve been to have is the compactness of the venue. Most events take place either along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall or just a few blocks from.  The events are scheduled so you do not have to pick and choose, you can attend them all, as none overlap.  The mix-up of presentations, slideshows, workshops would make Goldilocks quite happy as it feels just right.

from Bankrupt © Phillip Toledano

from Bankrupt © Phillip Toledano

Despite the event being organized by Geographic staffers and contributors the offerings are not all strictly traditional photojournalism.  For this reason I was able to be delighted and inspired by “Mr. Toledano” aka Phillip Toledano’s presentation, who had the unenviable position of being the first in a line-up of four.  Messr. Toledano showed work from several series: Bankrupt (empty offices after the dot com bust), Phone Sex, and some new work on plastic surgery.  Some salient quotes from Philly Toe:

1.  “I see my photographs as unfinished stories.”

I remember when I signed up for the Peace Corps and one of the requirements was a high tolerance for ambiguity.  I had it in spades, and I admire it in photographs as well.  Unfinished stories and ambiguous meanings are the stuff where creativity can thrive.

2. “For me photographs are like when you walk into a house and the phone is ringing and you pick up the phone and someone starts talking to you.”

3.  “When I work on a series it is like making a piece of music.”

4. “My ideas are gate crashers.”

5, “The project determines the style not the other way around.  All my projects are different stylistically.”

Here, here!  I adore photographers that adapt and change, stretch themselves – there is value in pursuing the single minded theme throughout one’s life to be sure, but for peripatetic types like myself, I appreciate people of ideas, good and bad – and the risk-taking that comes through changing it up with each project.

Mr. T enjoyed a 10 year career in advertising before pursuing photography full-time.  He is responsible for the Blue in JetBlue and for making the phrase “vigorous shaggery” an addition to my lexicon (in describing some noises made by his Phone Sex workers subjects, lest you get the wrong idear.)  If you are not familiar with him, check out his Days with My Father project on the website.  Phillip also enjoys writing accompanying in his photos, and I find his personal notes accompanying the last days of his father to be poignant.

More to come!

From Days with My Father © Phillip Toledano

From Days with My Father © Phillip Toledano


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