FAQ For Photographers

This list has been compiled directly from questions asked by clients when first considering working with Ms. Swanson; this will help you plan for your first meeting.

1. I’d like to be informed of visits Ms. Swanson will be making to present lectures and offer consultations with photographers in my area. Do she have a newsletter or blog?
2. What can I expect to gain from a private, one-to-one consultation session with Ms. Swanson?
3. What are the fees for an initial consultation, what can I expect and how can I prepare?
4. I don’t feel my work is quite ready for marketing, but I know I would benefit from a critique of my photographs or review of my project to-date. Is this something Ms. Swanson can assist me with?
5. At what point in my work would I gain the most benefit from a consultation with Ms. Swanson?
6. Is it recommended that I attend a lecture or workshop with Ms. Swanson prior to scheduling a private consultation?
7. Can Ms. Swanson advise me as to which market(s) my photographs are most appropriate?
8. I am a working photographer, but believe my marketing needs reconsideration. Can Ms. Swanson provide advice, direction and practical assistance to me?
9. How should I prepare for my initial private consultation with Ms. Swanson? What materials should I bring to the session? Does she want to see everything, or what I think is my best work of one subject?  What if I am working on several projects?
10. Do you help photographers prepare submissions for grants, juried competitions, and for their participation in upcoming portfolio reviews? 
11. Do you consult with photographers on the subject of websites?
12. I’d like to introduce Ms. Swanson to my work before our scheduled initial consultation.  Can I send her a link to my website or other online image collections for her review? 
13. I do not live in New York or Tucson, but would like to meet with Ms. Swanson. Does she offer consultation appointments around the time of her public appearances?
14. If I cannot meet with Ms. Swanson in-person, can we arrange a telephone consultation? How would this be arranged?
15. When is payment due for my consulting services provided and what forms of payment are accepted?
16. Must I send a down payment to Ms. Swanson to hold the reserved time for our consultation?
17. If I were unable to meet with Ms. Swanson at our appointed time, would I owe Ms. Swanson a cancellation fee?
18. Is it appropriate to record my consultation with Ms. Swanson?
19. If I wish to continue the dialogue with Ms. Swanson beyond the initial consulting session, what do I need to do to book time with her and what is the cost?

1. I’d like to be informed of visits Ms. Swanson will be making to present lectures and offer consultations with photographers in my area. Does she have a newsletter or blog?

  • I maintain both a popular blog “Marketing Photographs” that can be accessed from the home page of this website, and a private emailing list you can join on the home page of this website.  I encourage you to check my blog frequently as I give advance notice of important industry event dates, list upcoming competitions and other opportunities to learn from or share your work.  I hope to meet many of you at portfolio review events; detailed information on these and other events listed are on my blog.
  • Join my mailing list, here, to receive my MVS On the Road Monthly Newsletter to learn when I will be giving a lecture in your town.
  • Like my Facebook Fan Page for Marketing Photos here. (My blog posts appear here)
  • Friend my Facebook page for Mary Virginia Swanson here (I keep you posted on what I’ve seen, read, been inspired by here)

Thank you for your interest!  I hope to see you in your community soon.

2. What can I expect to gain from a private, one-to-one consultation session with Ms. Swanson?

My intention is to offer you effective methods for successfully placing your photography in today’s marketplace.

Based on your photographs and interests, I can advise you towards establishing your business as an artist and assist you in creating a plan for marketing and self-promotion your photographs. I will help you:

  • Understand the path to those who can make a difference in your career: gallery directors, curators, photo editors or other image professionals;
  • Prepare for portfolio review events such as FotoFest, Review Santa Fe, Photolucida and PhotoNOLA among others, to maximizing your investment in attending the event;
  • Understand issues relating to licensing rights, copyright and industry contracts;
  • Research, identify and interpret trends to better understand the use of photographs in the media; and
  • Understand grants and fundraising opportunities to complete your personal projects.  The breadth and depth of topics we cover during our session depends on your interests and needs. My goal as your consultant is to help you focus your efforts and maximize your marketing benefits.

When you meet with me, you will be spending time working with a professional in a one-on-one environment, similar to a creative coach/mentor experience. Photographers approach me with a variety of experiences, goals and aspirations. Some have identified specific needs, while others are interested in basic information on marketing and the business of photography. I tailor my consultations to fit YOUR particular professional needs.

3. What are the fees for an initial consultation, what can I expect and how can I prepare?

I require a two-hour minimum per initial consultation session with all new clients.  My fees for this initial consult is $300 per hour (2hrs x$300 = $600 total).

When we begin our session we will discuss your goals for our time working together.  If we decide that we have accomplished your goals before your two-hour session has ended, I may suggest that we save that time for a follow-up consultation at a later date.

In some circumstances, if we decide you have a substantial amount of homework, (such as, website revisions, project research, imaging or copy edit), I may suggest the meeting conclude at that time in order for you to move forward on with this work.  In that case, I would rely on you to contact me when you are ready to move forward and use your remaining time.

After the initial consultation period is completed, clients may schedule additional time as needed for as little as fifteen minutes; see the rate schedule within Payment Options.

It is an exciting time for artists, with broad opportunities through multiple markets and formats; I encourage you to explore all possible options for generating revenue and the all-important dialogue that will come with a larger audience.

4. I don’t feel my work is quite ready for marketing, but I know I would benefit from a critique of my photographs or review of my project to-date. Is this something Ms. Swanson can assist me with?

  • Absolutely. I help artists identify the strengths in their work and can point you to the audience(s) most likely to respond to your photography. This way your market awareness begins as your work is evolving and maturing.   It is a great pleasure for me to help artists find their voice, and guide them towards launching and managing their careers into the future.

5. At what point in my work would I gain the most benefit from a consultation with Ms. Swanson?

  • I work with many artists of all ages and experience who have yet to present their work to any market, as well as award-winning professional photographers who wish to present personal work to new or unfamiliar markets, such as the fine art market.  My assistance is geared towards your professional and creative needs and abilities.  There are no requirements or hard-and-fast rules for accomplishments, awards, or creative achievements to benefit from an initial consultation with me.
  • Many photographers have benefitted from working with me before committing time, money and energy toward marketing their work. If you are considering promoting yourself as an artist, be it through launching a website, attending a portfolio review event or undertaking a promotional campaign to a targeted audience, this is an excellent time to schedule a consultation or attend a workshop with me (where you will learn from the experience of other photographers as well!).

My lectures are informative and useful, and an effective way to begin thinking about the elements and methods of marketing your photographs.  The Q&A sessions that typically follow my lectures are particularly lively and a valuable way to begin the process    Attending one of my lectures is encouraged and a great introduction to the benefits of preparation of visual materials and marketing your photographs; these public engagements are listed in the MVS ON THE ROAD section of this website.

Workshops, while necessarily limited in the degree of personal attention, are a good value if you can attend one; we all learn from each other in a workshop situation.  I particularly enjoy teaching in Tucson, where my vast library of resources are at our fingertips.  In both Tucson and Santa Fe I also have a diverse range of excellent site visits and professional guests who visit our classes.  Many clients who enroll in workshops continue working with me as their consultant to further focus attention on their work and career aspirations.

While attending a lecture or a workshop is not required, priority for scheduling consultations is given to those who have attended a workshop with me.

7. Can Ms. Swanson advise me as to which market(s) my photographs are most appropriate?

My primary focus is working with photographers to assess their imagery and its marketability. I help photographers edit and prepare their work for presentation, and determine which professionals in what markets are most likely to respond favorably to your work.  I offer advice on how to reach the targeted audience with examples of effective, efficient, sustainable promotional materials.

I coach photographers how to secure commissions or sales of existing imagery to the larger markets, as well as maximizing the potential for sales in their immediate geographic region. This includes the fine art community (public/private collections), book jacket designers, magazine editors, art directors or other relevant segments of the creative community.

8. I am a working photographer, but believe my marketing needs reconsideration. Can Ms. Swanson provide advice, direction and practical assistance to me?

I stay current in the fine art, commercial and photojournalism marketplaces via industry events, gallery and trade expositions, participation in membership organizations, and meeting with professional colleagues in the broadest media circles. If there is an area I am not as familiar with as another colleague, I would recommend them to you prior to your investing in a session with me.  That said, I am respected for my broad background and in-depth knowledge of multiple markets and will do all I can to help you.

I believe it is important to review your materials with regard to industry trends and if warranted, reposition yourself. Today, fine art photographs are licensed for advertising and packaging usages, while photojournalists and commercial photographers are represented for prints sales by art galleries. Photography is our visual language, and imagery can cross traditional boundaries to reach new audiences. I help photographers broaden their potential to new market segments and reach new “players” in existing markets.

9. How should I prepare for my initial private consultation with Ms. Swanson? What materials should I bring to the session? Does she want to see everything, or what I think is my best work of one subject?  What if I am working on several projects?

I do not need to see perfect “final” prints; digital prints, working prints, installation views of multimedia pieces are fine for me to help you.  In the long run, we will do more talking and planning than viewing actual photographs. Do not invest in any presentation materials for my benefit!  Instead, save that expense and effort for opportunities to meet the industry at portfolio review events.

No two sessions are alike: some photographers want to talk business not art, while others want help in finding the strengths in their work and bring numerous prints for us to edit together at the session.  Others want to use this time discussing what market to target and whether their promos/websites are “talking” effectively to those markets.  The time is yours and we use it as you see fit, but I caution you from having such an extensive agenda that there is insufficient time let allow the meeting to evolve. I may encourage discussion on a topic not on your list, or a market not yet on your mind, and will want some time to educate you about that area of the industry if you’re interested in this.  My experience has been that clients with a long list of topics to cover who assign a percentage of our time to those topics only gain less in the end because of that restrictive framework.  You can trust me to use our time wisely and efficiently.  I too want you to meet your goals.

To begin our discussions, I like to see a selection of your work, in-person or online (you don’t need to bring a mountain of work if the work is available for viewing online).  Photographers tend to bring too much work to a consultation session when, in fact, I can get a sense of the body of work with about twenty images (more, obviously, if you wish me to advise you on multiple bodies of work).  If you wish to spend our session reviewing a broader group of images, we can certainly devote the entire session to discussing the creative elements of your work, leaving the marketing issues to another session.

If you have already begun marketing your work, I can offer my opinion as to the coherence and effectiveness of your chosen business “identity”; letterhead, business cards, print promotional pieces, CD-ROM and website that you have prepared; I encourage you to share any existing efforts with me at our session.  My intent is to help you find the strengths in your work and to provide advice, assistance, and insights on new or improved avenues for marketing your work based on your goals and capabilities.

10. Do you help photographers prepare submissions for grants, juried competitions, and for their participation in upcoming portfolio reviews?

I help many of my clients prepare for their presentation to industry professionals at portfolio review events, as well as plan their marketing materials to follow up from those meetings.  I also help with grant applications, submissions to competitions and other types of presentations.

I encourage you to be mindful of deadlines for competitions, juried portfolio reviews and photo events if you seek my assistance with content, editing, or effective choices of Reviewers; it is best to arrange meetings with me as far in advance of your deadline(s) as possible.  I am typically booked tightly as national deadlines approach and my availability is limited; plan ahead to work with me when deadlines or decisions loom large!

11. Do you consult with photographers on the subject of websites?

This is increasingly important as a first impression and reflection of you and your work, and I can greatly help you plan for the launch of an effective website or improve your existing website.   I am proud of the assistance and clarity I have lent to photographers towards their websites becoming a more successful tool within their marketing efforts.  Your website must speak clearly to the audience you are trying to reach in the language of that market.  As websites have become a crucial element in presenting one’s work, I advise many photographers on launching websites that are valuable business tools well suited to their images.

If you have already launched a website, my strong advice is not to spend considerable time and money updating your existing site before we have a consultation session to discuss this. I have seen many artists expend their limited resources only to find they have gone in the wrong direction.  You should have a clear sense of what you want the site to accomplish and how to achieve this before you invest time and money making changes.

After our initial consultation, many clients seek my help with writing about their work on their site.  We can communicate electronically to transmit versions of text using track changes.  Subsequent to the initial consultation, we will only take the time needed on tasks such as word editing.

I encourage you to email me a link to your website or other URL where I can review your work to prepare in advance of our meeting. I will not be able to speak with you personally prior to our appointment.

If you wish me to conduct any research for you in advance of our session, that additional time is billable (pro-rated from my hourly fee).

Once you have a confirmed appointment, just prior to that date you will receive an email with details of our appointment (where, when, what number to call me on if we are scheduled for a telephone consultation) and a reminder to review these “FAQ’s for Photographers.”

If you wish to send a small amount of material to me for review prior to our session, i.e. sample prints, publications, CD-ROM with images please know that 1) this is not required and 2) I travel extensively and delivery of any tangible materials for review in advance of our session must be carefully planned to ensure that they reach me.  Contact me by email well in advance if this is what you would like to accomplish to ensure it reaches me in a timely manner and at a designated mailing or email address.  I ask that you be mindful of the calendar and that we work together to plan an affordable, efficient way to get a small selection of materials to me if you wish to do so.

13. I do not live in New York or Tucson, but would like to meet with Ms. Swanson. Does she offer consultation appointments around the time of her public appearances?

I am available for in-person consultations at various locations throughout the year, typically in conjunction with my public lectures and/or workshops, portfolio reviews or when traveling to attend an industry event.  I try to schedule and locate my consultation sessions in cities hosting other photography-related events so artists can minimize their time and travel costs for optimal benefit, scheduling a session with me just prior or following events I am involved with. I do not take appointments during events I am attending or participating in – that is my time to learn, to network and to catch up with colleagues and friends.  I do frequently schedule consultations the day before, the day after my appearances, so I encourage you to watch the MVS ON THE ROAD section of this website for my public appearances and consulting appointments in cities other than my home base of Tucson, Arizona.

Please note: My in-person consultations on the road are typically filled many months in advance; try to plan ahead if you wish to meet with me at industry events or in a particular city.

14. If I cannot meet with Ms. Swanson in-person, can we arrange a telephone consultation? How would this be arranged?

The majority of photographers work with me remotely via the telephone (even for initial consultation sessions) and find these very effective meetings.  There are in fact many photographers who have worked with me for years that I have yet to meet in person.  All of the client testimonials on the CONSULT WITH MVS section of my website refer to working together remotely.  We should ideally both be able to access the internet during our meeting for effective guidance and research capabilities.

Please be conscientious of time differences between my location and yours at the time of your confirmed meeting time and plan your calendar accordingly.

Many existing clients touch base with me frequently on the phone by first checking my calendar of availability and requesting desired day/time via email (mvs@mvswanson.com).  Established clients have no minimum time limitation and often block time, using a 1/4 hour, 1/2 hour or 1 hour period, as needed.  Advance planning is encouraged to ensure my availability.

I do my best to be flexible to meet the needs of your schedule, but understandably have less ability to do so when I am teaching a workshop, lecturing, or attending conferences.

If interested in booking a private consultation session, contact me directly by email and remember that booking priority is given to existing clients or those who have attended a workshop with Ms. Swanson.

15. When is payment due for my consulting services provided and what forms of payment are accepted?

As I will meet with some of you in person and others remotely, payment terms are as follows:

PAYMENT FOR IN-PERSON SESSIONS: Payment in full is expected at the end of each in-person consultation session via check, cash, money order or payment with credit card on this website.  The amount due for initial consultations is payable in full whether the entire 2-hours is utilized at that time or “banked” to apply for a future session.

PAYMENT FOR REMOTE SESSIONS:
If the session was conducted remotely on the phone or email, you are expected to pay promptly, in full, via the website or by check.  I can invoice you on email if you wish.

PAYMENT OPTIONS:

ELECTRONIC PAYMENT BY CREDIT CARD:  For your convenience, payment can be made with a credit card through the website.  After your session is completed, go to the CONSULTING section of this website, click on PAYMENT and check the appropriate payment category (according to time spent on the sessions; initial consultations must pay for 2 hours at new client rate at the time of session).   If you pay by credit card, you will be issued a receipt electronically.  As of May 1, 2013, we are now charging a 3% processing fee for payments made online.

NOTE: If the billing address for your credit card is outside the US, Mexico or Canada, you will need to open a PayPal account.

PAYMENT by CHECK or MONEY ORDER:  If you prefer to pay by personal check or money order, please make payable to, and forward payment due to:

M. V. Swanson and Associates, P.O. Box 91888, Tucson, AZ  85752.

16. Must I send a down payment to Ms. Swanson to hold the reserved time for our consultation?

The basis of my relationship with artists is one of trust; no down payment is required.

17. If I were unable to meet with Ms. Swanson at our appointed time, would I owe Ms. Swanson a cancellation fee?

The courtesy of a timely cancellation of a meeting you have committed to in advance is always appreciated.

If you must cancel your scheduled appointment, I charge a 25% cancellation fee if less than five (5) business days notice is given unless the appointment can be filled from a waiting list of those seeking appointments. I do my best to fill cancellations, and often have a waiting list when meeting photographers, but they may remain unfilled and you will be billed a cancellation fee.

If you do not show up for your appointment you will be charged the full amount for the meeting time scheduled.

18. Is it appropriate to record my consultation with Ms. Swanson?

If this would be helpful to you, I absolutely encourage you to tape our session; many clients do.  I encourage you to invest in a recording app for your mobile phone or an MP-3 format recorder that will easily download the audio file to your computer for future reference.

Please note that I consider our discussion private and confidential, and any recorded content is for your private use only. I do not grant you permission to reproduce all or part of our discussion in any media without my prior permission and clarity about your desired usage.  Thank you for respecting our privacy; you can expect the same from me.

19. If I wish to continue the dialogue with Ms. Swanson beyond the initial consulting session, what do I need to do to book time with her and what is the cost?

After we have completed an initial two-hour consultation session, meetings, whether in person, phone or email are billed at the existing client rate (currently $250/hour or equivalent portion of an hour used).

Some clients work with me on a regular basis (quarterly or more frequently), others less often as their bodies of work develop, booking an additional consultation when it is time to edit or market their new work, prepare for a portfolio review event, edit artist statements for grant applications, or other needs.   I make a special effort to be available for existing clients who need help at these times.

NOTE: As of January 1, 2014: To be considered an existing client you must have complete a consultation with Ms. Swanson within the past 3 years.

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