The MVS Master Class


The 2019 Master Class has now concluded, thanks to all students and guest faculty for a successful workshop!
Sign up for our newsletter to learn about 2020 course offerings as they are announced.

WHEN: Sunday evening, January 6 –  Saturday afternoon, January 12, 2019

WHERE: Tucson, Arizona at the Homewood Suites by Hilton at St. Philips Plaza (room reservation details below)

WHO: Photographers serious about their creative practice and who wish to take their work to the next level.
Acceptance by application and portfolio only.

TUITION: $1350 | $1100 for Master Class Alumni & Existing Clients*

The Annual MVS Master Class is intended for photographers who have begun to present their work to targeted audiences, with career strategy at the core of our discussions. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of today’s fine print markets ranging from private, public and corporate collections, as well as related professional practices, including print presentation, publication and exhibition projects; securing support for your projects; and developing a marketing strategy for your work are among the topics that will be discussed in this immersive, advanced-level workshop.

The week will be comprised of classroom lectures by myself and special guests, as well as numerous site visits. The 2019 guest lecturer list includes Susan Burnstine, Susan kae Grant, Joan Liftin, Lisa M. Robinson, Phillip Zimmermann, studio visit with Wayne Martin Belger, and more. Each participant will have a portfolio review with James Hajicek + Carol Panaro Smith and myself towards the end of our week together.

A visit to the Center for Creative Photography’s Volkerding Research Library, as well as current exhibitions Richard Avedon Relationships and selections on view in the Heritage Gallery, in addition to behind the scenes visit to Etherton Gallery and other venues. A personal library of exceptional small press publications, promotional tools and marketing examples, exhibition proposals, and other materials that add to an understanding of a professional practice today will be available to participants in the classroom.

While much of our time will be spent in the hotel’s classroom, on site visits and meeting with special guests, time will be scheduled for participants to share their work informally with our group—always a highlight.  Plan on bringing current projects, promotional pieces and publications to share with fellow participants.

As in the past, this year’s discussions and seminars will be at an ADVANCED level; acceptance is by application only.
Class size is limited; applications are now closed.

I promise an engaging dialogue about our industry and your practice that will help you focus your energies and unleash your creativity during a stimulating visit to the Sonoran Desert. I look forward to working together in Tucson early in the new year!

-Mary Virginia Swanson

NOTE: This Master Class commences after a special conference hosted by the University of Arizona in Tucson on January 4–5: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTISTS’ BOOK, College Book Arts Association’s 2019 Conference. Arrive early and attend both events!

MVS Master Classes of the Past

Each January since 2014, Finding Your Audience: The MVS Master Class, has been deemed a great success by participants – read their testimonials on the lower portion of this page. Previous Master Class experiences have included:

  • Behind the scenes visit with staff members at the Center for Creative Photography
  • Meeting with the staff at Etherton Gallery
  • Photographer/Editor Joan Liftin on editing a project for publication
  • Special tour of the lead exhibition at the Tucson Museum of Art with Chief Curator Julie Sasse
  • Susan Burnstine on the role of a book in your career
  • Susan kae Grant on producing your own traveling exhibition
  • Artist David Taylor on strategic planning and production of the limited-edition complete to a monograph
  • Curator of Education Cass Fey on connecting your work with a broader audience
  • Lisa M. Robinson on her creative practice and embracing new projects
  • Philip Zimmermann (Spaceheater Editions, Tucson) on producing and selling artist books and his expertise on this growing marketplace
  • Artist/Educators James Hajicek and Carol Panaro-Smith on creativity
  • Independent Curator Trudy Wilner Stack on the role of a curator in your creative life
  • and many more.

Read a summary of the 2018 Master Class here and to view previous Master Class activities see #MVSMasterClass2018 and #MVSMasterClass2017 on Instagram.

Visiting Tucson, Arizona

Come early / Stay late! I hope you will come early/stay late and experience the culture and amazing landscape of Southern Arizona, too; this link provides a great introduction to our area  The Sonoran Desert is not to be missed! Early risers will have a chance to hike and photograph in the area, and we will save time for an afternoon free to see the local beauty, historic neighborhoods or other area(s) as you wish.  Highlights in Tucson or in the near vicinity include Sabino Canyon,  Sonoran Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park,  San Xavier Mission and the Pima Air & Space Museum.  A slightly longer trip (day trip) would bring you to Biosphere 2Kitt Peak National Observatory and Karchner Caverns State Park.


We have negotiated a discounted room rate for Workshop Participants at the Homewood Suites by Hilton of $156 + tax per night; this rate is available until January 4, 2019.  You can book a room via Homewood Suites’ website by following this link for the discounted rate or by calling Homewood Suites at 520-577-0007 and referring to MVS Marketing.

All rooms are suites and smoke free and include: daily hot breakfast; dinner, beer and wine each weeknight (Monday – Thursday); full kitchens in every suite with full-size refrigerator and stove top; and high speed internet as well as a fold-out couch in each suite’s living room. We encourage participants to stay with the rest of the participants at this hotel not just for the proximity to our classroom but also for the opportunity for extended dialogue it affords with classmates, course assistants and guests.  If you are interested in sharing a room with a fellow participant to cut down on your expenses, please let us know and we will do our best to pair roommates.  Note: Spouses / traveling partners have greatly enjoyed this dog-friendly hotel, finding the proximity to walking paths, restaurants, Trader Joe’s as well as the Hotel’s shuttle service (5 mile proximity) makes for diverse options on how to spend their time while we are in class.  The hotel will also pick up groceries for guests upon request.


If you have any questions about the workshop please email Kelsey Vance at with MVS Master Class in the subject line.

*To qualify for the discounted tuition you must be an alumni of the MVS Master Class (held annually since January 2014) or are a current client of Ms. Swanson’s and have consulted with her within the past two years.

ALL IMAGES © 2018 Kathleen Dreier (unless otherwise noted), all rights reserved.


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