Mary Virginia Swanson: Marketing Your Photographs

Saturday and Sunday, April 8–9, 2017
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., both days

Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York

Mary Virginia Swanson led a two-day workshop at Aperture Foundation working with photographers who were interested in how to market, sell, and make a career out of their art practice.

The workshop focused on a wide range of venues—public, institutional, and private—that extend beyond the fine-art market. On the first day, Swanson discussed the corporate art market and explained to participants that their photographs could be seen beyond the white walls of a New York gallery. Swanson discussed health care clinics and Fortune 500 companies that offer services in the arts, which are often overlooked by artists. Participants were asked to show a selection of their photographic work and explain their project; Swanson offered advice and resources to participants as they talked about their work. In the afternoon, the group had the pleasure of visiting sepiaEYE gallery—upstairs from Aperture—and speaking with the gallery director, Esa Epstein. Epstein spoke about the history of her gallery, the prices and sale methods of the work, and the types of artists she represents.

On the second day, participants were asked to present their websites and their revised project statements. Swanson explained simple ways that one could adjust their website to both brand and sell the work, along with strategies that could be used to help capture the attention of an art dealer. In the afternoon, Swanson shared examples of her favorite photobooks and publishers, explaining that every publisher has something different to offer. She also brought in samples of postcards and take-aways that she had been given at art fairs and portfolio reviews. The workshop closed with a presentation on grants, residencies, and corporate opportunities that are available to photographers. Participants left the workshop with a wealth of new knowledge and a plan on how to tackle the task of marketing their photographs.

Mary Virginia Swanson is an author, educator, and advisor who helps artists find the strength in their work, identify appreciative audiences, and present their work in an informed, professional manner. During her career, she has worked in the fine art, documentary, photojournalism, and licensing arenas, having launched an innovative agency to manage licensing rights for artists called “Swanstock” in 1990, and launching her consulting business in 2000. Swanson coauthored with Darius Himes the acclaimed Publish Your Photography Book: Revised & Updated (2014). Swanson is known for staying current in today’s diverse marketplace for photographs. Her current book project is Finding Your Audience: An Introduction to Marketing Your Photographs (2017), a major update to her earlier Business of Photography: Principles and Practices (2008) that will guide photographers through the changes taking place in nearly every aspect of our industry, preparing them for new opportunities in today’s photography-rich culture. She is the recipient of numerous honors including the 2015 Honored Educator Award and the 2015 Insight Award from the Society for Photographic Education, the 2014 Susan Carr Award for Education from the American Society for Media Photographers, and the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Focus Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography. An active contributor to the photography community, Swanson aids numerous organizations in our industry to provide relevant programming and plan for their future. She is based in Tucson, Arizona, and NYC.




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