Mentoring Frequently Asked Questions

Private Mentoring: What & When?

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


When you choose to work with Ms. Swanson privately you will be spending time working in a professional, one-on-one environment. Consultations are tailored to fit your particular professional goals and guide you to reach key benchmarks along your path to achieve those objectives. Photographers approach Ms. Swanson with a variety of experiences, goals and aspirations. Some have identified specific needs, others are interested in basic information on marketing and the business of photography, and she has found most photographers welcome her advice on improving their image and text editing, their social media presence, and their research and communication skills as warranted by the photography industry today. Photographers work with Ms. Swanson at all stages of their development: whether they are newly entering the field or are at their mid- or end-of career. A favorite long-term clients is Fred Lyon, who at 95, just published his third book with Princeton Architectural Press, has gallery representation, and is in his studio daily working on his extraordinary image archive. Fred is an inspiration and role model for us all! During any given week Ms. Swanson is advising artists on such diverse topics as negotiating representation contracts, researching funding for their projects, editing their work and artist statements for upcoming competitions, and assisting artists in preparing grant applications. Expertise is provided to you on interpreting and negotiating contracts, strategizing participation at portfolio review events and ranking reviewers, planning content for promotional tools including website, Instagram and printed materials, drafting proposals for exhibitions, publishing / self-publishing projects or other engagements, and more. She advises on the choices involved with publishing a completed series, and help clarify the differences between artist’s books / self- publishing / small presses / art publishers and trade publishers and what would be the best path for one’s particular project. It is an exciting time for artists, with new-to-us opportunities through evolving markets, platforms and formats; she encourages you to explore all possible options for generating revenue and the all-important intellectual and aesthetic dialogue that will come with a larger audience. Through private mentoring, Ms. Swanson will help you understand those opportunities, clarify terms of relationships, and maximize benefits that come with such exposure.




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


Ms. Swanson works 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. Her 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 working privately with Ms. Swanson. Many photographers have advanced their careers as a direct result of working with Ms. Swanson before committing time, money and energy to introducing their work to the creative markets. 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 her (where you will learn from the experience of other photographers as well).




Is it recommended that I attend a lecture or workshop with Ms. Swanson prior to scheduling a private consultation?


Ms. Swanson's public lectures (in-person and online) are informative and can be an effective way to begin thinking about the elements and methods of marketing your photographs. The Q&A sessions that typically follow her lectures are particularly lively and a valuable way to begin the process. Attending one of her lectures is encouraged and a useful introduction to the benefits of preparation of visual materials and marketing your photographs; these public engagements are listed in the CALENDAR section of this website. Educational workshops, while necessarily limited in the degree of personal attention provided to each participant, are a good value if you can attend one; we all learn from one another in a workshop situation. Ms. Swanson particularly enjoys teaching in Tucson, where her vast library of resources are at our fingertips. When teaching in both Tucson and NYC, I also schedule a diverse range of excellent site visits as well as professional guests who visit our classes. Many clients who enroll in workshops continue working with Ms. Swanson 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 one of Ms. Swanson's workshop – in a very real sense we have already started working together.




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. Ms. Swanson helps 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.





Scheduling & Preparing

How do I book an appointment?


All photographers interested in working privately with Ms. Swanson should read through this “Frequently Asked Questions” page. If you are ready to request an appointment, fill out the “ Client Fact Sheet.” Once received she will email you at the address you provide in the form to shedule a meeting, typically within a week of receiving your Client Fact Sheet.




How can I prepare to make the most of her time spent advising me on my work?


Before the initial private mentoring session: In advance of your initial consultation, it is encouraged that you start by:

  1. Considering the status of your creative output:
    - Are you embarking on a new series or between projects?
    - Do you have a long-term project with no end in sight?
  2. Consider what your professional goals are and prioritize them so these important elements of your artistic and professional engagement can be discussed.
  3. Research and reflect on your career activities as an artist to assess whether there are aspects of your professional practice that you believe could be improved, be it related to studio organization, safe and clean art storage, record keeping as it relates to materials utilized, edition structures, mailing list management and more.
For Ms. Swanson's preparation, she will have read your Client Fact Sheet responses and reviewed your website and social media presence. If you revealed specific, urgent needs in your Client Fact Sheet, she may ask you to send her additional materials such as a PDF of a project, draft of exhibition statement, or other timely issues to also review prior to the meeting. When the session begins, Ms. Swanson will share her impressions on what she has observed from your public presence and your current needs and long-term goals will be discussed. If it is decided that your immediate questions have been adequately addressed or that you have a substantial amount of ‘homework’ to reach your goals (such as, website revisions, project research, imaging or copy edit) before your two-hour session has ended, she may suggest that remaining time be saved or "banked" for a follow-up meeting at a later date, completing the two-hour initial consultation during that second meeting. When you are ready, it will be your responsibility to contact Ms. Swanson to schedule this follow up meeting. No matter how brief or detailed your needs, Ms. Swanson is happy to discuss and assist you with honest and thorough guidance.




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


If this would be helpful to you, recording your session with Ms. Swanson is encouraged–many clients do. Recordings are for your future reference only. It is suggested that you invest in a recording app for your mobile phone or a digital audio recording device that will easily download to your computer.




What are your terms on privacy and confidentiality?


Ms. Swanson considers your discussion private and confidential. Any recorded content is for your private use only, no portion of the discussion shall be reproduced in any format, including but not limited to quoting Ms. Swanson in your marketing materials, without her prior permission and clarity about your desired usage. Thank you for respecting our privacy; you can expect the same respect from her.





Fees, Payment, & Cancellations

What fees does Ms. Swanson charge for Private Mentoring sessions?


New Client “Initial Consultation”

  • Two-hour minimum commitment.
  • The fee for this initial consultation is $300 per hour (2 hours x $300 = $600 total).
  • This two-hour commitment can be split into two sessions if you desire and we agree in advance of meeting.
Existing Clients Going forward, should you wish to continue working together following your Initial Consultation, you will then be considered an “Existing Client". The existing client rate is reduced to $250 per hour, or any portion thereof prorated, and the minimum time commitment is no longer required.




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.




When is payment due?


PAYMENT FOR REMOTE SESSIONS: If the session was conducted remotely on the phone, video conference, or email, you are expected to pay promptly in full at the conclusion of our meeting via this website or by personal check/money order sent to to my Post Office Box. An invoice will be issued at the conclusion of your session. 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 via credit card on this website. Please note: Initial Consultations are typically billed for the full two hours ($600). If you choose to end a meeting prior to completing the two hours to take time to work on something discussed, you can “bank” the remaining time together. It is your responsibility to connect with me to schedule a second appointment to use that pre-paid banked time within one year of the initial meeting.




What forms of payment are accepted?


PAYMENT BY CREDIT CARD For your convenience, payment can be made with a credit card through this website. After your session is completed, go to the Payment for Consultations page. Select the appropriate payment category per your session or that you were invoiced for. If you pay by credit card, you will be issued a receipt electronically. 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 A receipt will be issued to you upon receipt of payment.




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 with less than five (5) business days notice given, you may be charged a cancellation fee of 25% of the value of our planned meeting unless the appointment can be filled from a waiting list of those seeking appointments. If you do not show up for your meeting or cancel your appointment the day before or on the day of, you will be billed the full amount for the time booked.




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 the initial consultation period of two hours is completed, clients may schedule additional time as needed for as little as fifteen minutes. The Existing Client rate is $250 per hour or any portion thereof pro-rated as needed – no time limit is required going forward. If you would like materials to be reviewed in advance of a meeting, such as extensive text / image editing, grant proposals, project budgets, understand the time for Ms. Swanson to do so will be difficult to predict, but know that if more than 15 minutes preparation is required or requested will be discussed (Ms. Swanson is always mindful of your time and budget and strives to conduct all meetings in a professional manner). Some clients work with Ms. Swanson 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, and more. Special effort is made to be available for existing clients who need help at these critical times.




Who is considered an Existing Client?


As of January 1, 2014: To be considered an Existing Client, you must have completed a consultation with Ms. Swanson within the past 3 years. If it has been more than three years since you worked with her, please re-submit the Client Fact Sheet to restart your mentoring relationship.





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