MARY VIRGINIA SWANSON is an educator, author and entrepreneur in the field of photography, and a respected advisor to artists and arts organizations. Unique in our field, her broad background includes exhibiting, collecting, licensing and marketing photographs and affords her a range of perspectives on making and marketing art. Ms. Swanson counts among her consulting clients a range of internationally respected artists and institutions.
Swanson received her MFA in Photography from Arizona State University (1979). Throughout graduate school she served as a research assistant for the Curator of Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, her hometown Museum. She began her career at The Friends of Photography in Carmel, California, managing the education offerings including Ansel Adams Workshop. From there she moved to NYC to head Special Projects at Magnum Photos, bringing the work of their photographers to broader audiences through exhibition and publication projects. She relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 1990 to launch Swanstock, a unique agency managing licensing rights for fine art photographers. She currently works independently, offering consulting services to artists and arts organizations, and offering her own classes and giving back to our field through educational seminars, serving as an advisor for multiple not-for-profit industry organizations, and other community-minded activities.
Swanson coauthored with Darius Himes the acclaimed Publish Your Photography Book (Radius Book, 2023), and continues to stay current on the growing market for photobooks, reflecting both the relative ease of self-publishing and the rise of the collectible photographic artists book.
Among the recent awards she has proudly received are 2015 Honored Educator from the Society for Photographic Education, the 2014 Susan Carr Award for Education from the American Society for Media Photographers (ASMP) and the FOCUS Award for Lifetime Achievement in Photography from the Griffin Museum.
She frequently serves as a judge on contemporary photography and photobook competitions, a portfolio reviewer for industry events, and presents group learning through interactive lectures, workshops and Master Class Retreats. Her Private Mentoring services have proven to move artists forward in their careers (currently conducted remotely due to Covid-19 pandemic).
Swanson is based in Tucson, Arizona, views from which she shares, along with upcoming industry deadlines on her Instagram feed: @maryvirginiaswanson.
From the top, L-to-R:
© Selma Fernandez Richter, © Susan kae Grant
© Kathleen Dreier, ©Erin Carey
© Julia Christine Martin, ©Paul Ratje
© Susan kae Grant, © Alanna Airitam
© Stefan Wachs, © Kathleen Dreier