Client Testimonials

Brenda Biondo


There is nobody who knows the photography industry better than Mary Virginia Swanson. Within minutes of meeting her at a portfolio review, I realized how invaluable her insight is. She subsequently helped me put together a compelling book proposal, which eventually led to my book being published last year. Each time I speak with her she offers spot-on advice that helps move my career forward. She is a pleasure to work with and a wonderful person to know.

—Brenda Biondo (website)

John Lewis


Mary Virginia Swanson was instrumental in helping me to develop an important proposal to create photographs for a major Cultural Center. Her advice was spot on and it played a key role in my success. My project ended up blossoming into a coffee-table anniversary book followed by a permanent display of my prints to showcase the spirit of their space. Mary is my foremost source and authority and I cannot recommend her highly enough.

—John Lewis (website)

Jeanine Michna-Bales

On the Way to the Hicklin House Station
I met with Mary at my first review in December of 2013. Serendipitously, she was the first review I had on the first day. She quickly got me better organized and helped me figure out what I needed to focus on for the rest of the weekend. Since then, her advice and insight have been extremely helpful. I have a newly designed website, received a Scholarship to Review Santa Fe and have been chosen as a CENTER 2014 Choice Awards Winner. I look forward to many more tangible benefits from my working relationship with Mary and truly appreciate all of her help.


—Jeanine Michna-Bales (website)

Joseph O. Holmes


Mary Virginia seems to have some kind of X-ray vision into my work. In just a couple sessions, she helped me map out a whole new direction for exhibiting my work which, to my amazement, paid off immediately. A year later and I’m still successfully following the path we laid out. I expect to work with her at every important juncture in my career.

—Joseph O. Holmes (website)

Olivia Parker

The Peach-OliviaParker

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)

Deon Reynolds


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)

Howie Garber


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)

Christopher Chadbourne


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)

Mickey Smith


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)

Steve Rosenthal


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)

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