Mary Virginia Swanson led a two-day workshop at Aperture Foundation, working with photographers who were interested in how to build their audience, establish value for their work, and extend the life of their photobook beyond publication. The workshop focused on ways newly published photographers can conduct targeted research; from examining existing and desired audiences to discussing the possibility of exhibitions, participants broadened their perspectives about methods that will aid in securing exposure and longevity for their work.
On the first day, Swanson introduced the photobook market and explained how to research and build an audience. She discussed the importance of knowing your audience, the value of extending the work into exhibition form, and how to build a dialogue beyond the printed work. Then Swanson took a brief intermission from the discussion, and participants had the pleasure of visiting sepiaEYE gallery—upstairs from Aperture—and viewing various prints and photobooks on display, as well as speaking with the gallery director, Esa Epstein. In the afternoon, participants presented their photobooks and works in progress, and practiced marketing concepts to the group, in addition to strategizing methods of targeted research.
On the second day, participants continued to present their works in progress for photobooks and beyond. Swanson provided valuable critique and advice to participants in regards to their work and the existing art markets, including academic, fine art, and commercial. Swanson explained simple but useful ways that one could adjust their social and media platforms to better target their audience and market to it. In the afternoon, Swanson shared examples of her favorite photobooks and publishers with participants, explaining that every publisher has something different to offer—and thus that not every publisher will be the right fit. The workshop concluded with a discussion about the various types of exhibitions and their usefulness, social media tools, and educational programming that could be tied to a photobook project. Participants left the workshop with a wealth of new knowledge and a plan on how to tackle the task of executing and marketing their work beyond print.
Mary Virginia Swanson is an author and educator who helps artists find the strengths in their work, identify appreciative audiences, and present their photographs in an informed, professional manner. She draws from her thirty-year career spanning the fine-art, documentary, photojournalism, publishing, and licensing arenas to lend sage advice to artists at all professional levels. Swanson coauthored with Darius Himes the acclaimed Publish Your Photography Book, which was revised and updated in 2014 (Princeton Architectual Press). Visit mvswanson.com or @maryvirginiaswanson.