In the seventies I photographed and everything fell into place. After seeing my first show David Godine published a book that someone sent to Ansel Adams. Ansel invited me to teach at his workshops (where I first met MVS) and I was off and running. I worked hard but I was spoiled rotten. At that point neither MVS or I could have imagined the changes to come.
Attending one of Mary Virginia’s lectures last year was my wake up call indicating that I had to do more than produce good work. After a 1995 accident put me on crutches for a year, view cameras, studio, and darkroom did not work. During that year learning digital kept me sane. I had to cancel and refuse lectures and teaching engagements. Galleries did not know what to do with me. As a result opportunities began to dry up. From 1998 until 2008 I had the good fortune to travel extensively in Asia. Although I kept on photographing I lost contact with many of the people I knew in photography. Now that I have a lot of new studio work I don’t know what I would do without Swanee to help me navigate. In addition she is a true and valued friend.
—Olivia Parker (website)
Thanks to Mary Virginia’s advice, I have had my very first major museum show! I can’t say enough about what she has done to help, prod, inspire us “moody artists.” I guess it was four years ago I took her “Fall Marketing Workshop” in Tucson, from that point forward has been a lot of work, but her knowledge and expertise was spot on. Now I’m showing my photographs in one of the biggest museums in Nevada. Thank You!!!
—Deon Reynolds (website)
I consulted with Mary Virginia Swanson for some help with my Fine Art photography business. I needed advice on limited editions and gaining a wider audience in galleries. MVS convinced me to do a book on the Wasatch Mountains. The Wasatch has lately been the site of conflict between developers who wish to expand and interconnect ski resorts and the majority who wish to protect natural areas and wildlife.
My initial idea was to involve other photographers to make the strongest visual statement possible; MVS convinced me that I should use only my photography. Because of her advice, “Utah’s Wasatch Range: Four Season Refuge” has been a great success. MVS helped me strike a balance between over 20 essays and 160 of my photographs. She provided help with front and back cover design and gave me the additional courage to market the book on my own without a distributor. This proved to be valuable advice and certainly improved my profit. Because my book was a collaboration with over 20 people,
I got some wonderful advice. Anyone considering doing a photography book would be wise to have Mary Virginia Swanson on their team.
—Howie Garber (website)
MVS is not an agent, nor is her advice generic. She’s the business manager every business needs. She’ll show you how to leverage your strengths, what conferences to go to, competitions to enter, how to present yourself on the web, and at portfolio reviews. She’ll open your eyes to approaches to advance your career you never would have known existed. She’ll push you as hard as she pushes herself. She knows good photography, nobody knows the business better, and she’s a delight to work with.
—Christopher Chadbourne (website)
At each major intersection in my career, I turn to Swan. Our consultations have been invaluable. She is a beacon of information and inspiration. Each time we meet, I walk away not only with the guidance I was seeking, but a list of practical to do’s that help propel my work forward. (I’d love to keep her to myself, but the secret is out…)
—Mickey Smith (website)
Mary Virginia Swanson is a dynamo, an incredibly energetic source of enthusiastic, insightful, and inspiring ideas for photographers seeking guidance. A session with her is is an amazing experience, packed full of helpful ideas and innovative suggestions, all relating specifically to one’s own situation.
I went to see Mary Virginia because I had a body of work I wanted to see published, a collection of personal photographs of New England Rural Churches taken over decades. Swannee helped me find the perfect agent who embraced the project, resulting in a book that has met my highest expectations. Given this impetus, this body of work has now taken on a life of its own in ways I could never have anticipated, resulting in speaking engagements and a traveling exhibition with many museum venues. This project has truly been the highlight of my career, and none of it would have happened without Mary Virginia’s pivotal involvement.
—Steve Rosenthal (website)
The meetings I have had with Mary Virginia Swanson have been career-changing. She came to the table after taking the time to get to know me and my work. Her advice is always personalized, professionally sound and deeply motivating. This is a tricky path we have chosen; to be artists. MVS is an invaluable compass.
—Amy Anderson (website)
Mary Virginia Swanson generously shares her wealth of knowledge, insights and enthusiastic optimism with all she meets. Grab on to ten percent of her ideas and you will be amazed how far you can go with your photography and career. A trusted friend, MVS, is candid, honest and always supportive of your progress and success.
—Jamey Stillings (website)
Laura Alice Watt
I am still in awe of the ENORMOUS and invaluable guidance I was given by Mary Virginia Swanson in preparing for my first portfolio review – which I wouldn’t have even known about except for her good advice! Our early phone conversations helped me to identify and refine my strongest bodies of work. From our first chat, Mary Virginia has been incredibly encouraging; her enthusiasm gave me the confidence to sign up for the event. Her editorial eye is sharp and clear, her suggestions always strong without altering my own vision, and her insight into the professional realm of fine-art photography was essential to navigating my way. By phone and email, we worked together on a new business card design, selected the highest priority reviewers for my work, and prepared promotional materials, all of which added up to a focused and successful review. No matter where my photography career goes from here, Mary Virginia can claim the lion’s share of credit for helping to get my feet under me at the start, and I will always be grateful.
—Laura Alice Watt (website)
Mary Virginia Swanson is a coach. You can hire her to coach you for one inning, the whole game, the entire season or throughout your career. I initially came to Mary Virginia to help me package my work for a portfolio review competition. That single event planted the seed that matured into an entire forest of multiple projects, exhibitions and books. She taught me how to set and achieve goals, how to brand myself and how to market my work. When you invest in Mary Virginia Swanson, you invest in yourself.
—Nell Dickerson (website)