Mary Virginia Swanson & Special Guests  


May 5 - May 11


15 photographers


1,800 USD tuition only

The 2019 workshop is full and applications are no longer being accepted. Please join us in 2020.


October 18 - 24, 2020

Application dates will be announced during the Fall of 2019. To receive updates, please follow us on Instagram, Facebook or sign up for our newsletter.


As artists, we derive great joy from bringing a personal project to completion.  Sharing that work with others completes the creative cycle.  

In this workshop participants will gain insights from a diverse range of industry experts on advancing their project towards targeted presentation. This includes researching your topic and finding its audience, working to edit a project to its strengths and present it to potential venues, publishers and other constituencies.
Author, educator, and mentor Mary Virginia Swanson will be the lead faculty member for the workshop, presenting a series of illustrated lectures that will broaden your industry awareness on a range of key issues, including the evolving editorial market, the challenges to the traditional gallery market, identifying new buyers for fine prints and licensing rights, understanding exhibition venues to maximize opportunities, and the role publications can play in promoting your work. Additionally, she will meet with each participant to help identify appropriate audiences for their work and discuss how to effectively market to them.

At the start of the workshop, Swanson will be joined by award-winning photo editor Elizabeth Krist for a 2-day editing session of students’ work. Through classroom talks and interactive demonstrations, you will learn the nuances of editing your work for multiple presentations: editorial spreads, exhibitions, and photo books--as well as to satisfy guidelines for grant applications and industry competitions. Krist will work with each participant to edit images brought to the workshop, helping you to reveal the heart of your project.

Throughout the week, Special Guests will join us to share their expertise on the role of a gallery in your professional practice, securing commissions to make new work, the path towards publication of your projects, considerations when granting licensing rights for your images and more.

Our Special Guests are:

Elizabeth Krist – Photo Editor, Reviewer, Independent Curator (Monday & Tuesday)  
Joan Liftin - Photographer, Photo Book Editor, Educator (Tuesday)
Esa Epstein - Executive Director and Curator at sepiaEYE Gallery (Wednesday)
Jane Yeomans - Photo Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine  (Thursday)
Taia Kwinter - Managing Editor, Books at Aperture Foundation (Friday)


Photographers who are serious about their work, whether they are working professionals or one day aspire to be, those who wish to increase their awareness about today’s diverse markets for imagery and those who wish to gain a broader understanding of how to reach their target audiences. 


Sunday May 5th: 

Happy hour gathering (time and location TBD)

Monday May 6th: 

Our first day will be dedicated to the review and editing of each student’s project. Elizabeth Krist will begin by dissecting a published story. Through a series of discussions Elizabeth will then guide students towards editing and sequencing their images for a variety of outlets and to best maximize the potential of each project.

Tuesday May 7th:

During the second day of the workshop, photographer, editor, and educator Joan Liftin will join us for an in-depth lecture on editing for photo books. Today Elizabeth will finish editing and sequencing each participant’s project. Editing for the wall will be introduced.

Wednesday, May 8th:

Today’s classroom discussions will focus on making the most of your exhibition opportunities—researching how to identify and submit proposals to appropriate venues and collaborating to maximize the benefits of exhibitions for you, the venue, and its community.  We will discuss developing sponsor relationships, creating appropriate educational components, and fostering long-term professional relationships from every opportunity.

In the afternoon session we will learn about the diverse markets for fine art photographs today: who buys prints and why, how to introduce your work to decision makers, as well as the complexities of pricing your work within multiple markets.

One-on-one sessions with Mary Virginia to discuss your project and its audience will begin today. (Participants are encouraged to observe each other’s one-on-one sessions throughout the week.)

Executive Director and Curator Esa Epstein welcomes us to SepiaEYE gallery in the Aperture building where she will share her insights into gallery representation today, her commitment to her artists, pricing / editioning your work, and other related topics.

Thursday, May 9th:

We will start the day with a lecture by Jane Yeomans, Photo Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine, who has deep experience in commissioning photographers to create new work.  Yeomans will also share the research methodology she uses when in need of an existing image for appropriate illustration.

She and Mary Virginia will discuss the editorial market today, as well as how to target appropriate publications to secure contracts for commissions, and how to then deliver on expectations.      

In the afternoon session Mary Virginia will offer an in-depth examination of self-publishing your work vs. being published, and the role of a publication in your career.

At the end of the day, we continue our one-on-one sessions with her.

Friday, May 10th:

Throughout the morning, Taia Kwinter, Managing Editor, Books at Aperture Foundation, will join us in the classroom for an in-depth conversation about photo book publishing today. She will lend her advice on when a project is ready for publication, discussing targeting publishers most likely to be interested in your work and how to bring your projects to their attention.

Later, Mary Virginia will present a lecture on how to sustain your long-term personal projects through strategic partnerships and collaborations as you work towards presentation, exhibition, and publication.

We will continue with the last round of one-on-one sessions with Mary Virginia at the end of the day.

Saturday morning , May 11:

In our closing session we will discuss strategies for getting your work in front of those who can make a difference in your career. Making choices about which photography competitions and portfolio reviews to invest in will be discussed, based on potential return.  We will also discuss making a strong first impression when given the opportunity to present your work to industry professionals, and how to strategize consistent and effective communication in print, online and social media channels going forward.

Workshop concludes at 1pm on Saturday, allowing time for you to visit the many art and photography galleries within the Chelsea neighborhood.  

* This schedule is subject to change at any time. If a guest presenter must cancel unexpectedly, we will work hard to confirm another industry expert with a similar level of expertise to join us.



Participants should bring a selection of 40 images from the project they submitted. For ease in sharing, please bring 8x10 inch prints (slightly smaller is fine, “work” or “lab” prints preferred).  It would also be helpful to bring an additional 50 images from the same project in digital form, in case faculty might want to see more.

If you’d like to bring a small group of what you consider exhibition prints for sharing with faculty, you are welcome to do so, but not required (unframed, please).

Mary Virginia will issue a questionnaire to each accepted participant about 4 weeks in advance with further instructions on making the most for our time together in New York City.


Please email a carefully considered edit of 10 jpgs (72dpi; 1080 pixels longest side) of the project that you are considering presenting during the workshop.

Please submit a brief statement telling us why you would benefit from this workshop at this time (as a Word document, no longer than 100 words)

Please submit a short bio (as a Word document, no longer than 200 words.) 

Be sure to also include the following information:
Country of origin / country of residence
Previous photography studies, including recent workshops attended (if any)
How you heard about this workshop

Please email your application to

Upon acceptance, participants are required to make a 500 USD deposit within two weeks. The balance is due 90 days before the workshop begins. To see our terms and conditions and cancellations policies please click here

Workshop will be held at Aperture Foundation in Chelsea (547 W 27th Street, New York, NY 10001, 4th Floor).

Each day the workshop will be from 10am - 5:30pm, except on Saturday the 11th when we will finish at 1pm.

A few months before the class begins, participants will receive additional details regarding travel to NYC, housing suggestions and more.

The workshop is full. The dates for the 2020 workshop will be announced in August 2019.