Professional Intensive is at the forefront of technology and technique. Our eight-month flagship program will set you apart and give you the edge you need to succeed as a professional photographer.
You'll learn how to bring your creative vision to life, develop an exceptional foundation in photography skills, and leave with a professionally critiqued portfolio and a practical business plan. Then, your own passion and determination will put it all into effect.
Establishing a photography career is really, really HARD.
It requires dedication and drive to break into the photographic market with success. This program is the fastest route to getting you started.
If you think you've got what it takes to be a pro, Professional Intensive is for you.
What is Professional Intensive?
With 1000+ hours of all things necessary to build a photography career, RMSP’s 8-month Professional Intensive program leads students through an extensive customized curriculum. Designed to prioritize the topics that most photographers struggle with, this intensive course creates graduates who are prepared to work any photography job that comes their way.
Comprised of business and marketing education, technical camera, lighting and editing instruction, and vision-based assignments, “PI” gives students the knowledge they’re seeking while they focus on their unique strengths – the qualities that will set them apart in the industry. We’re all about one-on-one attention, immersive education, and collaborative learning.
Successful photographers are successful entrepreneurs, which is why this program requires students to work hard, to appreciate failure, and to remain motivated. It covers more photography than a four-year photo program – but without all the gen-eds. We want to maximize your time, so that you can start building professional work experience as soon as possible – with the confidence you’ll need in order to succeed. Our graduates hit the ground running with a heck of a lot of knowledge and industry connections that will last forever.
It’s one thing to love photography. It’s something else entirely to turn that love into a profession.
An RMSP education is your passport to a career in photography. You’ll learn more in our eight-month Professional Intensive than you would in a traditional college photography program, and in a quarter of the time. Oh, and did we mention there won’t be any yawning over textbooks? Our concentrated curriculum incorporates 1,000+ hours of engaging classroom and field time with instructors and visiting professionals. You’ll study alongside other student photographers who will challenge and inspire you. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll form valuable, life-long connections as you travel along the path of your career. Throughout the program, you’ll remain in close contact with our dedicated core instructors while also learning from top industry leaders. You’ll never get lost in the shuffle.
When you graduate, you’ll find a mentor ready to help you with the transition from education to profession. Becoming a professional photographer means finding your identity and niche — but it also means being versatile. It’s hard to make a year-round living as a photographer, which is why RMSP prepares you for both the retail and commercial industries. Today, photographers are hired based on style and vision, not on genre alone. Being well versed in both industries opens the door to more job opportunities in the future.
If you want to be a pro, then take it from our pros. Great photographers have mastered their art. Successful photographers have mastered their business. Let RMSP teach you how to do both.
Who Attends RMSP?
There’s no such thing as a typical RMSP student — our students come from far and wide. It’s part of what makes our program so unique. Spanning different ages and backgrounds, some students have previous photography experience while others are learning for the very first time. Our students are motivated, curious, driven, and inspired. RMSP’s supportive, non-competitive atmosphere means that you will pursue your own personal and professional goals in the company of like-minded students and talented instructors. There’s only one prerequisite for students interested in Professional Intensive: that you are wildly ambitious about all things photography and ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work building a career.
Finding your own style at RMSP
We want you to be the best photographer you can be. For professional photographers, this means loving what you do, developing your creativity, and learning how to express your passion and purpose through your images. There’s no cookie-cutter mold for professional photographers; your vision is unique. RMSP is here to help you discover it, capture it, and make it yours.
Tuition for the 2018/2019 Professional Intensive program is $27,950. A $500 non-refundable, non-transferable deposit is due upon enrollment in Professional Intensive. This deposit amount ($500) is applied to the tuition for the program. The balance of the tuition must be paid in full at least 30 days before the start of the program. Sixty days before the start of the program, a minimum payment of $7,450 is due to RMSP. The final balance of $20,000 is due to RMSP 30 days before the start of the program.
Housing in Missoula is generally easy to find. RMSP recommends that students check with Craigslist, VRBO and Airbnb for listings of available housing opportunities. In the summer of 2018 RMSP will make available any housing leads we are given from the community and post these on the Professional Intensive Student Portal (which is accessible by enrolled students).
To apply for Professional Intensive (PI) please click the "Apply Now" button above and follow the online instructions. We accept applications for our Professional Intensive program up to the start of the program if space is available. However, due to limited enrollment, we suggest you apply early. In the event that the program is full, you will be notified and your name will be placed on a waiting list. There is no application fee.
During the application process you will be asked to:
- Give us some information about yourself
- Write a short essay about your photographic goals and what you hope to accomplish after PI
- Upload two letters of recommendation (one personal, the other professional)
- Take a short quiz on computer skills
Once your application is reviewed, RMSP will send an email to you indicating acceptance or denial. If you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to return to this website to enroll. To complete the enrollment process, you must read and agree to the Enrollment Agreement. If you are younger than 18 years old at the time of enrollment, a parent or guardian must perform this task. You complete the enrollment process by paying your tuition deposit (see Tuition tab).
No prior photographic experience is necessary for enrollment in Professional Intensive, although some experience is recommended. Our selection process is designed to accept students who can meet the demands of this comprehensive and challenging education. In order to enroll in Professional Intensive, we require that you are a U.S. citizen, and that you:
- Demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a full or part-time career as a professional photographer.
- Are fully comfortable with intermediate-level computer operating tasks.
- Are able to demonstrate personal and professional qualities that include a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, an ability to adapt to new technologies, an ability to get along with others in group situations and the determination to succeed.
- Are a high school graduate or have a General Educational Development (GED) certificate by the time of our program orientation.
Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Loan
Students interested in the Professional Intensive program have the option of applying for a student loan through SLM Financial, a Sallie Mae company. For those students approved for an educational loan through SLM Financial, SLM Financial will make tuition payments to RMSP according to the disbursement schedule agreed upon by the student and RMSP. Students approved for a loan through SLM Financial are required to pay their tuition deposit up front. For that reason, we recommend that students finalize loan applications prior to remitting their tuition deposit. To learn more about, and apply for a loan, please visit www.salliemae.com/student-loans/career-training-smart-option-student-loan/?lnkid=SM-HP-loanoptions-careertraining.
The Professional Intensive program is approved for Veterans Benefits by the State Approving Agency.
RMSP High School Scholarships
Rocky Mountain School of Photography will award five $5,000 tuition scholarships for the 2018 Professional Intensive program. High school graduates who graduate the same year they begin Professional Intensive are eligible to apply for a scholarship. To learn more about the scholarships and how to apply, please visit rmsp.com/hsscholarship.
Equipment & Supplies
Students will receive a detailed equipment list before the start of the program, but this is a good guide as to what kinds of gear you will need in order to participate in the program.
What you need to bring to the program
- Digital SLR camera body or an approved mirrorless interchangeable-lens digital camera body.
- One normal lens
- Laptop computer
- Equipment manual(s)
- Three empty portable external hard drives (between 1TB and 5TB)
- Tethering cable for your camera
- Memory card for your camera
- Memory card reader (or slot on your laptop)
- Flash drive
- Monitor calibration tool
- Adobe Lightroom CC
- Adobe Photoshop CC (not needed until after you start the program)
- Adobe Premiere Pro CC (not needed until after you start the program)
- Adobe InDesign CC (not needed until after you start the program)
- Adobe Illustrator CC (not needed until after you start the program)
- fotoQuote Pro 7 (not needed until after you start the program)
- Tripod Legs
- Tripod Head
What we recommend you purchase after you arrive
- Dedicated flash unit
- Wireless flash trigger or transmitter for your flash unit
- Camera bag
- Additional lenses
- Capture One Pro (included in the tuition cost)
- Sensor cleaning supplies
- Cable release or intervalometer
- Paper for inkjet photo printing
- Package of 8.5 x 11 archival photo sheet protectors in a three-ring binder or binder box
Gabriel Biderman has been exploring the night topography for over 20 years. Using film and digital, he blends the surreal look of the night to enhance historic and urban landscapes. Biderman’s work has been exhibited in NY, London, San Francisco, and Hawaii and he is the author of the recently released book Night Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots. To learn more about Gabriel visit ruinism.com
Jesse Boone founded Finest Moments Photography in Cleveland 11 years ago and now operates Jesse & Nelli, a boutique wedding studio along with his wife. Weddings have been the primary focus of his photography business for over a decade. Combining an upscale client experience with an artistic, photojournalistic style elevated his studio to one of the most sought after options in his area. Jesse and his wife have been commissioned to photograph weddings in amazing locations such as Sonoma, New York City and Mexico. From private estates, to vineyards, to oceanside celebrations, Jesse aims to capture the natural emotion and joy of each event focusing on natural interaction, relationships and great lighting. As a full-service studio, they create beautiful albums and wall art as timeless heirlooms for their clients. Their work has been featured in publications including the Wedding Channel, The Knot, Brides and Grooms, Rocky Mountain Bride, Photo District News, Destination I Do and Costco Connection. In the photography industry, Jesse has appeared on Shutter Network for his expertise in the business aspect of wedding photography. He is also creator of the Photo Gift Registry and SnapShotBot. For Jesse and Nelli, family is the most important thing. Today Jesse primarily enjoys helping photographers build successful lifestyle businesses that provide freedom for travel, adventure and maximum family involvement.
Mary Brunst, a portrait, wedding and editorial photographer, considers herself to be a smile-loving, adventurous soul. She is a go-getter, big dreamer, and a messy perfectionist. Photography for her is a way to focus on what is good and to cherish some of life’s happiest moments. Mary loves getting to document life as it happens, creating images that reflect real life in a genuine and uncontrived way. She strives to create images that radiate authenticity and reflect the true personalities of those she is photographing. She is a 2010 Graduate of RMSP's Career Training Program and worked as a Summer Intensive teaching assistant in 2011. Mary finds sharing her passion for photography with others both fun and rewarding. She currently resides in Westminster, Maryland. Her work has been featured on The Knot, Grey Likes Weddings, United with Love, Mountainside Bride, Charm City Wed, Bayside Bride and other wedding blogs & publications.
Forest Chaput de Saintonge
Forest Chaput de Saintongedirects Rocky Mountain School of Photography with his wife, Sarah. He has been immersed in photography since he was born. He grew up in Missoula and began taking photos with an SLR when he was seven years old. He started working for Rocky Mountain School of Photography at age 13. During his free time, he likes to become a master at new things, build stuff, run, hike, bike, photograph, and be an amateur astronomer. Forest has a BA in Astrophysics, just because. He really enjoys teaching and loves to help students understand concepts thoroughly. Forest has vast experience working with and teaching Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and has worked many hours in the black and white darkroom.
Neil Chaput de Saintonge
Neil Chaput de Saintonge, a former junior high science teacher, has been teaching photography for more than 40 years. In that time, he has taught thousands of students in classes and workshops in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. He is well known for his enthusiasm, technical knowledge and love of teaching. In 1973, Neil studied under Ansel Adams. Neil’s photography interests include ballet, documentary, people, landscape and fine art. In 1979, Neil founded the Southeastern Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, a two-year school that trained students for careers in graphic arts and photography. After vacationing in Montana in 1988, Neil and his wife Jeanne moved to Missoula and started Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Neil has also been a massage therapist for 30 years, is a Reiki Master and teaches healing work.
Sarah Chaput de Saintonge
Sarah Chaput de Saintonge has seriously loved photography for about seven years and has experimented with many genres in her own work. She attended Career Training in 2011 and has worked as an assistant and instructor since. Sarah graduated with a degree in photojournalism from the University of Montana. She enjoys portraiture, self-portraiture and anything else that involves gorgeous natural light. She loves all Adobe software and loves helping students learn it too. She also loves film photography. She grew up in a small town in Alaska, but now lives in Missoula with Forest and their crazy cats, Apollo and Pepe.
Ben Ferencz is an art director/graphic designer originally from New York. His work can be seen incorporated into the graphic communications of such brands as MoMA, Yves Saint Laurent, Phaidon, Gucci, MTV, Reebok, Pepsi, Adventure Cycling, Montana Art Museum and The University of Montana. With his wife, Julie, and daughter, Evelyn, Ben resides in St. Ignatius, Montana, where he continues to design and farm. He is the founder and creative director of The Design Cooperative.
Photography has been a lifelong passion of Sarah’s, with a focus on landscape, nature, and travel imagery. She is a graduate of Rocky Mountain School of Photography’s Summer Intensive Program, where she currently works as an instructor. She is an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom, and loves helping people learn the skills needed to take their photography further, both in the field and behind the computer. She enjoys the process of creating and marketing her images as fine art prints, and her work has also been published in Portland Magazine, Montana Magazine, and Big Sky Journal. Prior to her time at RMSP, she spent a decade working as a Park Ranger at North Cascades National Park in Washington. With an extensive knowledge of the natural world, Sarah is able to bring a unique perspective to her teaching of landscape and nature photography.
Judy Herrmann of Herrmann + Starke, creates imagery for advertising, editorial, and corporate clients. A past president of ASMP, an Olympus Visionary, and recipient of the United Nations IPC Leadership Award, Judy was named one of eleven “photographers you should know” by Rangefinder Magazine. Her inspiring seminars on photography and business have helped thousands of photographers. Through one-on-one consultations and her blog, www.2goodthings.com, she helps people grow creative and financially rewarding businesses.
Marcy James is a fine art documentary photographer who began teaching for RMSP during the old wet processing days when her passion was building pinhole cameras and working with antiquarian photo processes. Today, she has merged antiquarian methods with digital technology and has a special love for exploring the importance and potential with how our images live in the world regardless of whether we are presenting our work through the web or with exhibitions.
Marcy received her MFA from the University of Montana in 2005 and has taught for both the University of Montana’s School of Art as well as Rocky Mountain School of Photography where her focus has involved working with wet processes, visual studies, working in long projects and portfolio development. Marcy developed her photography through a myriad of jobs including working for CBS News and Television in London and Los Angeles, freelancing as an architectural photographer and photojournalist and owning a successful portrait studio.
In addition to teaching for RMSP, Marcy served the school as their Director of Education for seven years where she designed curriculum and coordinated classes for both our Career Training Program as well as our Workshops. As an artist, Marcy has exhibited nationally and her work has been featured in several publications over the years. Today, if she’s not out walking the hills of Missoula with her family, you will find her photographing in her favorite fictional landscape, No Mans Land.
Doug Johnson is a Colorado native now living in Missoula, Montana. Before a life-changing pursuit of photographic art, he was an outdoor educator for more than 20 years, passionately teaching people backcountry skills in navigation, mountaineering, avalanche awareness and wilderness first aid. Since graduating from RMSP’s Summer Intensive program in 1996, Doug’s work has covered many diverse projects in the documentary, commercial, fine art and educational fields. Assignments have taken him from coyote shooting in Wyoming to the last stages of a woman’s life to the graffiti-covered alleys and abandoned buildings of Denver. He is currently involved in an ongoing project called Art Music, which fuses the art of photography with live musical performance. His educational philosophy is fun, intuitive and full of creative persistence. No matter where you are in your photographic journey, Doug’s balance of the aesthetic with the technical can help you further express your unique vision.
Wes Kroninger is well known for his inventive editorial and beauty portraiture—cleanly lit images with a vitality and vibrancy that impacts viewers immediately. Kroninger has been a full time photographer since 2003 and in that time his work has gained national exposure, in publications including American Salon, Rolling Stone, Modern Salon, Rangefinder, Studio Photography, Banking Investor Magazine, Long Beach Magazine, Travel and Leisure Golf and a wide range of trade publications. He has worked with a broad range of commercial clients like Home Depot, Stanford Eagle, AVEDA as well as numerous salon and beauty industry clients across the country. In the photography industry, Kroninger has also been recognized for his work as an instructor, leading an extremely successful platform class at the 2009 WPPI convention in Las Vegas, where he shared some of the secrets of his elegantly lit beauty images. He is also a contributor to Pro Photo Resource, a popular on-line resource for professional photographers. Kroninger’s first book Lighting: Design Techniques for Digital Photographers, exploring the creative and technical aspects of photographic lighting is now on shelves.
Jeff McLain is a photographer, videographer, and digital retoucher.
After his photography education, Jeff got his start as a freelance photo assistant in San Francisco working on editorial, catalog and advertising shoots. His skills in Photoshop and computing allowed him to help photographers bridge the gap between the film days and all-digital workflows, and he stood at the forefront of the advent of the career of the "Digital Technician."
Jeff soon moved into shooting, and then moved laterally to video capture. His background as a multi-instrumental musician has also benefited his understanding of sound design and audio capture, which can be a technically challenging aspect of film-making.
He worked for many years as a digital technician for Pier 1 Imports, Pottery Barn and a slew of others. As a photographer, he has shot for Williams Sonoma, Mountain Living Magazine, Keen Shoes, Mountain Hardwear, Red Envelope, and Robert Mondavi Wines, among others.
He has loaded 15 cases of equipment onto planes, coordinated with Spanish-speaking producers in Mexico, photographed hamburgers by window-light in Hong Kong, shot smoothies on the balcony of Rudolph Valentino's Hollywood mansion, talked about film technology on a photo shoot with George Lucas, and has worked out of helicopters, Cessnas and random hotel rooms.
He has been a freelancer for over 15 years and takes a 'real-world' approach to his perspective of the photographic industry and the skills needed in today's market. Locally, he and his wife own and operate a boutique wedding videography business.
Jeff is a 2001 graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography and has B.A. from the
University of Montana. When not shooting in-studio or on-location, Jeff spends time
with his wife, son, dog and cat in Missoula, Montana. He plays bluegrass dobro,
banjo and guitar to unwind.
Mike Tittel admits an obsession with all-things photography. As a freelance active lifestyle photographer based in Salt Lake City, his work reflects his personality: passionate, energetic, adventurous, and focused. His zeal for the craft and technical side of photography is equally matched by his love for running a business and working as a team with other creative professionals to create visually stunning work. Mike’s beliefs in developing personal relationships and fostering creative collaboration have enabled him to work with nationally-known brands including Wells Fargo, Verizon Wireless, Puma, Columbia Sportswear, Red Bull, Gore-Tex as well as publications such as Men’s Journal, Outside, Fitness, Runner’s World, Shape, Skiing, Bike. When Mike isn’t working on location or in the office, you’ll find him rippin’ single-track, skiing powder, or spending quality time with his wife and two kiddos.
"Even the darkest of moments are followed by an explosion of light..."
David Talley believes in a necessary resolution. He is an internationally recognized photographer and educator operating out of Portland, Oregon and Sydney, NSW. He was named as one of the top five young and talented photographers by the United Colors of Benetton in Italy in 2013. David's work exhibits the darkest moment before an explosion of light, and his imagery is marked by a story, broken but changed for the better, and the ability to transform the present problem into a prosperous future. David is the founder of the 2015 worldwide conceptual photography movement, Concept Collaboration.
In 2015, David traveled to 8 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Vietnam, India, and Australia, teaching hundreds of students his inspiration, motivation, and creative techniques, thus enabling them to excel as artists. David's mission as an educator is to help photographers grow in their creative techniques, and to leave his students feeling in-control of and passionate about their creative future.
Michael Clark is an internationally published outdoor photographer specializing in adventure sports, travel, and landscape photography. He produces intense, raw images of athletes pushing their sports to the limit and has risked life and limb on a variety of assignments to bring back stunning images of rock climbers, mountaineers, kayakers, and mountain bikers in remote locations around the world. He uses unique angles, bold colors, strong graphics and dramatic lighting to capture fleeting moments of passion, gusto, flair and bravado in the outdoors. Balancing extreme action with subtle details, striking portraits and wild landscapes, he creates images for the editorial, advertising and stock markets worldwide.
As a former physicist Michael has worked on both sides of the technical revolution – helping refine the technology and using it for his current profession. Michael has worked as a professional photographer since 1996 and added digital photography to his repertoire in 2003. While Michael still shoots some film, mostly medium format, the lion’s share of his images are now produced with high-resolution digital cameras. He has been featured in Digital Photo Pro (December 2011), Outdoor Photographer (September 2001), Nikon World Magazine (Summer 2006), Digital Photographer (UK, 2010), Rangefinder Magazine (May 2010), and New Mexico Magazine (2007) for his work with extreme sports. Digital Photo Pro proclaimed Michael a "Master of Adventure" Photography in their 2011 Masters issue.
He contributes to National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Men's Journal, Backpacker, Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Climbing, Alpinist, Rock and Ice, Bike Magazine and The New York Times among many others.
A sampling of Michael's advertising clients include Apple, Nike, Nikon, Adobe, Red Bull, Microsoft, Nokia, Patagonia, Propel/Gatorade, Pfizer, DuPont, 20th Century Fox, Black Diamond, Cloudveil, Prana, Arc'teryx, Camelbak, La Sportiva, Gregory Packs, and Butterfield and Robinson.
In addition to shooting still images, Michael has also launched Michael Clark Productions, which produces top-notch motion and video pieces using state of the art digital cinema cameras.
Mark Cluney is a wedding and editorial photographer based in Missoula, Montana. He
bought his first camera in 2009 and has photographed 15-25 weddings a year since
2010 as Cluney Photo. He is passionate about capturing the themes of emotion and
memory through photography. His wedding work focuses on storytelling; emphasizing
the authentic moments and feelings of the day. Consciously opposing many of the
trends and fads in the wedding industry, he strives to take images that are timeless.
In addition to running Cluney Photo and teaching/mentoring photographers, in 2016
he partnered with New York commercial photographer Cody Rasmussen to start Timeless
Photo Co., a luxury wedding photography studio based in Manhattan, NYC.
In his spare time, he loves to read, study classic fashion and portrait photography, and spend time with his wife (Angela) and son (Eastwood). His work has been featured by Style Me Pretty, Ruffled, Green Wedding Shoes, The Knot, Junebug Weddings, Brides.com, Design Aglow, Aglow Magazine, The Henry Ford Magazine, Spotify, among other local and regional publications.
Joe Lavine lives in Golden, Colorado, and works as a commercial photographer specializing in food and beverage. For 20 years, Joe has worked with clients in his studio on Santa Fe Drive, the growing (prominent) art and photo district in Denver. Along with his commercial work, Joe has been teaching for more than 10 years at the Art Institute of Colorado. Education has always been important to him; he holds an undergraduate degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, and a master’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. Joe is an Adobe® Certified Expert in Photoshop® and beta tester for Leaf America. His expertise in Photoshop allows him to do his own digital retouching and manipulation for both client and personal work. Joe’s clients include General Mills, McDonalds, Quiznos, Rock Bottom Restaurants, Coors, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Wells Fargo Bank, Duracell and Qwest.
Inti St. Clair
Inti St. Clair is the real deal. Her work, which brings stories alive by capturing uplifting authentic imagery, has earned her assignments shooting commercial lifestyle photography for clients such as Chase, Phillips 66, AT&T, Wrangler and Microsoft.
Inti’s photographic career started in 2000 when she attend RMSP’s Summer Intensive program. That fall she moved to Seattle, WA, and her commitment to working toward earning a full-time, independent living as a commercial photographer required a constant grind: her days were filled with shooting, assisting other photographers, part-time work at a camera repair store, and late nights waitressing. In late 2001, she landed a position as a full-time producer, studio manager and second shooter for a very busy studio. She remained in that position for nearly four years, all the while honing her skills and developing her own portfolio.
Since launching out on her own, she’s honed in on her upbeat style of capturing genuine “real-life” moments, which keeps her in demand. She shoots for national and international brands. When she’s not busy on a commercial assignments, she’s shooting for editorial and stock, where she’s built an impressive collection of over 10,000 images.
Inti’s love for photography is surpassed only by her passion for travel, and while she currently calls Austin, TX home, she has circled the globe exploring and shooting in nearly 50 countries. Her wanderlust spirit invokes a global feel in her work and translates into an impressively diverse portfolio of beautiful images of people enjoying life the world over.
Sarah J. Rhoades is a Registered Patent Attorney and also admitted to practice in the State Courts of Montana, the Federal Courts for the District of Montana, and United States Tax Court. Sarah became a registered agent before the United States Patent and Trademark Office during law school. Sarah counsels clients on developing strategies for protecting their rights and then represents them in patent, copyright, trademark, trade dress, trade secret, and related business and contract matters. Sarah assists clients in securing and enforcing their intellectual property rights in the U.S. and international jurisdictions. Sarah serves as local counsel for intellectual property disputes in the District of Montana and her past experience includes a Markman Hearing before the Honorable Carolyn Ostby in the District of Montana, Great Falls Division. Sarah has represented clients during 10 State and Federal jury trials in Montana. In 2017, Sarah served as the Chair for the newly formed Intellectual Property Law Section for the State Bar of Montana. In addition to being a founder of the IPL Section, she has also organized and prepared Community Copyright Registration Workshops occurring simultaneously around Montana. In March of 2017, Sarah planned and organized the programming for the first annual, IP Day in MONTANA which included a day of interactive, intellectual property session with the Regional Director of the USPTO at the Blewett School of Law at the University of Montana. Sarah was born and raised on the Dearborn and Missouri Rivers in northcentral Montana. She attended Carroll College in Helena, Montana and the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. She received a Bachelor's degree in Biology with an Environmental Emphasis and then a Juris Doctorate. In her free time, Sarah enjoys playing volleyball and soccer or finding new trails with her family.
Missoula native, Becky Holdorf, CPA, graduated from the University of Montana with a Masters of Accountancy. Following graduation she worked as a financial auditor and tax preparer in Missoula and Helena and a controller for a Boise hospital. In 2007, returning to Missoula she joined BDM. Her practice focuses on personal, business and not-for profit tax preparation, financial reviews and compilations, and consulting. She is also invested in the community by serving as Treasurer for The Children’s Center and The Missoula Writing Collaborative, and volunteering in her kids’ classrooms. To balance her life, she takes time for yoga, golf, and skiing and hiking with her husband and two kids.
Jessica Carter is all about balance: passion with practicality, simplicity with thoroughness, creativity with strategy. She even balanced a degree in business administration with one in public administration. Jessica has worked with small nonprofits, universities, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies, including organizations like Boeing and NASA. Through most of her career, she’s developed and managed programs for college students, adult learners, retirees, and alumni. (Speaking of alumni, she’s also a graduate of RMSP’s Summer Intensive.) Jessica is currently the Program Director at RMSP where she manages the Professional Intensive and Summer Intensive programs, balancing the big-picture curriculum with logistical details. She teaches business planning and management courses in Professional Intensive, and she loves bringing new ideas, helpful insights, and a boost of energy to aspiring entrepreneurs. Jessica’s love of teaching is second only to her love of nature. When she’s not at RMSP, she and her fellow nature-loving husband are somewhere watching wildlife (or at least waiting for it to show up). And if she’s not outside with her camera and binoculars, she’s inside curled up with her twin kitties – usually watching an amazing documentary or the best TV show of all time (Parks and Recreation, in case you were wondering). “Change the world by being yourself.” -Amy Poehler
Professional Intensive Curriculum
Expert Camera Skills
Advanced Image Editing
Mastering Ambient Light
Estimates & Contracts
Storytelling for Brands
Assisting / Digital Tech
Creativity & Practice
Advanced Photo Printing
Copyright & Licensing
Composition & Aesthetics
Studio & Location Lighting
Developing Your Vision
Marketing & Branding
Creating a Business Plan
Finances & Accounting
Posing & Directing Models
Wedding / Lifestyle
Architecture / People
Food & Product / Fashion
Websites & Blogs
Social Media Marketing
Multimedia & Audio
At RMSP, you'll live, breathe, and dream photography for eight of the most incredible months of your life. Our method? Full immersion. The result? Your mastery of the craft. Our curriculum starts at square one, where everyone gains a foundation in the basics, and evolves toward more specialized learning that suits your professional goals.
Phase I is all about fundamentals: cameras, editing, lighting, flash, composition, creativity, output, business, and marketing. Let us fill in the gaps in your knowledge that you can focus on moving forward. This phase is packed full of beginning-through-advanced photographic techniques, a solid foundation in business and marketing skills, and important workflow management considerations.
Phase II focuses on skills-development in the two industries that employ photographers: retail and commercial photography. Today, photographers are hired based on style and vision, not on genre alone. Being well versed in both industries opens the door to many more job opportunities in the future. During this phase, you will learn directly from working photographers in the industry who have built successful businesses and want to share their experiences with you.
Phase III is all about becoming a professional. At this point, you've built your foundation and it's time to practice your new knowledge and skills with the pros. During this phase, you'll develop your own business materials, learn how to advertise, create videos, and spend time in what we call “Breakout Weeks,” when industry pros with unique perspectives work side by side with you, give you feedback, lead photo shoots, and share secrets about how to stay afloat in the photography world
Our mission? It's simple. We're here to train you how to succeed.
Photographic Studies is where you master your most important tools. You'll learn how to use and control your DSLR, including how shutter speeds, f-stops, ISO and color balance affect your images. You'll familiarize yourself with lenses, tripods, and the latest in photographic technology. Instructors will also assist during field shoots as you experiment with different techniques and gain confidence. No matter your skill level, we'll help you cement the basics.
Lighting is elemental. Great photographers know how to master light in all of its variations and forms. This course teaches you everything from the fundamentals of seeing light to how to work with both natural and artificial lighting, as well as specialty techniques for shooting professional portrait, adventure, food and product images both inside and out. You'll become proficient in your knowledge of the speedlights, strobes, and modifiers that will set you apart in the trade.
Image Editing is where we bring the magic of photography to life. Using the top software in the industry, instructors will teach you how to turn a good image into an exceptional one. From proper storage techniques and proven workflows to fine-tuning raw photos and high-end image manipulation, this course covers everything you need to know. Using the latest versions of Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Capture One Pro, you'll learn how to correct, perfect, improve and augment your images. Through follow-along instruction and one-on-one lab time, you'll master techniques for capturing, protecting, processing, and maximizing every image to the highest professional standards.
Business Studies is vital. To make it as a photographer, you need to know how to run a business. In this class you'll learn everything from how to write a business plan to understanding business costs and how to work with clients. You'll learn about pricing, contracts, licensing, and copyrights. These are the skills that take years to acquire on your own. Let RMSP instructors show you how to get things right the first time around.
Visual Studies is all about perception. You'll consider the history and evolution of photography and think critically about composition, story, perspective, and style. You'll learn to identify the qualities of extraordinary images through interactive critiques with your group. You'll also pursue your unique vision and discover how best to express it.
Marketing is where you learn how to differentiate yourself. The internet and social media have been game-changers when it comes to photography, and you need to discover what makes you stand out from the crowd. You will learn how to effectively promote your work, create your brand, and use the best outreach tools available, whether it's social media, a blog, online publishing or your own website.
Output is what separates the pros from amateurs. This is where you'll learn how to get your work into the world and practice the many decisions you'll make when it comes to printing, publication or posting online. Discover how to create a workflow for perfect color accuracy every time and how to be intentional when it comes to where you share your work. With one-on-one assistance from your instructor, you'll be producing razor sharp, gorgeous prints in our state-of-the-art lab and sharing your work in a way that generates interest.
Genre Studies is where you explore what interests you most. Maybe it's portraiture, sports, performance or architecture. Perhaps you're drawn to conceptual photography, weddings, food, or editorial. Whatever you choose, you'll engage in lectures and discussions and work with some of the most accomplished professionals in the field as you get a feel for possibilities and styles.
Video is increasingly in demand. Knowing how to produce great videography provides photographers with a wider range of income opportunities. We'll give you a crash course in the latest in multimedia, including how to see in sequences and utilize audio and stabilizing equipment to create compelling videos and time-lapse imagery from scratch. You'll also engage in video critiques and a final group video project.
Shoots are the reason we love photography. These sessions are held mostly outdoors, where you'll practice the skills you've learned in previous classes with an emphasis on achieving perfect exposures, lighting on location, and receiving feedback in the field. You'll have the opportunity to do all kinds of shoots: collaborative, individual, instructor-led, or assignment-driven.
Breakout Weeks are week-long immersions in specific genres. These shoots, critiques and specialized lectures are taught by successful, industry-savvy pros who are here to help you master the necessary skills for photography's different fields. You'll choose between portrait and architecture, fashion and food/product, and wedding and adventure/lifestyle. For three additional weeks, you'll also get to know video, conceptual, and stock photography from corresponding specialists.
”I think RMSP is one of the best photo programs out there - students get fantastic technical skills, an up-to-the-minute business and marketing education and a supportive network they can rely on for the rest of their careers. You really can't beat that combination.
Students get a ton of support at RMSP from faculty, staff and each other. Instead of the usual cut-throat competition, RMSP students are encouraged to master soft skills like collaborating effectively, managing teams and building relationships - skills that have become critical to success in today's photo industry.
By bringing working professionals in as educators, RMSP exposes students to real-world practices, almost like an apprenticeship with a lot of different masters. Seeing how so many people solve the same problems gives students an arsenal of tools and approaches they can use and adapt in their own careers. I wish I'd had that when I started out.“
Breakdown of the Professional Intensive Curriculum
We recognize that becoming a professional photographer requires much more than photographic skill and knowledge. For this reason, we crafted the Professional Intensive curriculum to include an even distribution of photographic, lighting, business, and marketing skills professionals need in order to be successful in today's market. Below is an estimation of the percentage of time spent in each of the Professional Intensive core courses.
Professional Intensive Exit Competencies: What will PI graduates actually know?
Throughout 36 weeks at RMSP, there is a lot of time for lectures, assignments, shoots, homework, fun, learning and community. But the most important part about the whole adventure is that you will leave with a massive foundation of applicable skills. Click the icons below to see what Professional Intensive students will have learned upon graduation. It must also be noted that this lists only the advanced topics. The basic skills a student needs to understand some of these advanced concepts will also be covered thoroughly.
PHOTOGRAPHY & EQUIPMENT
Graduates will be able to:
- Use the zone system of exposure and be confident creating perfect exposures in all lighting situations.
- Achieve accurate focus every time, and know how to set up a camera’s autofocus in multiple different modes for different shooting situations.
- Understand the differences between exposure controls (what controls movement, depth of field, noise) and use them intentionally to capture a scene in a creative way.
- Know what types of camera and lens equipment are available and what should be used for specific situations to achieve the look they want.
- Understand how and when to use tripods and what different types of tripods are available for different purposes.
- Know how to calculate and use the hyperfocal distance to achieve acceptable sharpness from a near limit to infinity.
- Understand the camera’s sensor limitations in recording high contrast and know the solutions to overcome this.
- Be proficient using The Photographers Ephemeris or Sunseeker to predict when and where the sun or moon will be at any location and time.
- Have a thorough understanding of white balance in mixed lighting environments and be proficient at color correcting.
- Know about modern medium format digital cameras as well as an introduction to how film photography can be used today.
LIGHTING & STUDIO
Graduates will be able to:
- Use both studio strobes and portable flashes in the studio and on location to replace or augment the natural light in the scene.
- Use a meter to determine what your exposure will be before taking an image.
- Use reflectors, scrims, and shade to augment natural and artificial light.
- Have full control over (or utilize their knowledge to refine) the lighting in any situation.
- Use hard light modifiers in the studio and on-location.
- Use soft light modifiers in the studio and on-location.
- Recreate traditional and non-traditional (what is current in the industry) portrait lighting setups.
- Use multiple lights and modifiers to accentuate or downplay certain elements of an image.
- Shoot images of highly reflective or transparent products.
- Create appetizing images of food in the studio and on location.
- Shoot large objects such as cars and motorcycles on location with portable strobes.
- Use lights to enhance exterior and interior architectural scenes to create marketable images.
- Understand the differences between TTL and Manual flash modes and understand what shooting situations would benefit from these modes.
- Understand the advantages of off-camera flash and how to use it effectively.
VISION & CREATIVITY
Graduates will be able to:
- Create images with pleasing and engaging compositions.
- Know the history of photography and apply what photographers did in the past to help improve their own art.
- Edit their own work and determine what images should be in their portfolio to attract targeted clients.
- See like a camera, and visualize what images will look like before clicking the shutter.
- Create a series of images that illustrate a story or theme.
- Understand how to sequence their images effectively for portfolio and web.
- Understand photographic genres and the differences between them.
- Present their work professionally and confidently.
BUSINESS & FINANCE
Graduates will be able to:
- Know their cost of doing business and what it will take to make a full-time living from their photography.
- Have a business plan that outlines where they hope to be in the future and how they are going to get there.
- Know the practical, legal and financial fundamentals of starting a business, as well as legal requirements.
- Feel confident with pricing their work, negotiating with clients and creating / accepting contracts.
- Understand how geographic location influences pricing and job availability.
- Feel confident with basic bookkeeping and accounting practices, as well as applicable tax codes.
- Know how their business must change and adapt to the changing photographic environment and how to adapt it to match the genre of photography they are pursuing.
- Have a thorough understanding of copyright, ethics, plagiarism, law, and the rights of photographers.
IMAGE PROCESSING & WORKFLOW
Graduates will be able to:
- Store, manage and organize images in Adobe Lightroom.
- Perform global and local adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.
- Utilize Capture One Pro for tethering in the studio, file management and basic edits.
- Use Adobe Photoshop to create complex composites, to retouch, and to put the finishing touches on images.
- Make perfect local adjustments with no selection fringes, even on difficult images.
- Perform advanced color corrections using RGB, CMYK, LAB color or other techniques.
- Use Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets to develop a consistent style.
- Understand how to use Capture One Pro’s overlay feature for compositing or stacking images.
- Be proficient in Photo Mechanic, and its integration with Lightroom.
- Understand helpful workflow techniques for both the retail and commercial worlds.
MARKETING & ADVERTISING
Graduates will be able to:
- Know who their target client is, what they are interested in, and how to effectively market to them.
- Understand their brand and convey a consistent brand image across all marketing avenues.
- Utilize printed materials, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, social advertising and Google AdWords to promote their business.
- Understand additional printed, in-person or relational marketing options available to them.
- Have a professional website to showcase their portfolio and help clients find and learn more about them.
- Have a marketing plan outlining how they plan to market their photography business to a target audience.
- How to conduct themselves professionally during in-person meetings and portfolio reviews.
Graduates will be able to:
- Coordinate with producers, stylists, models and other support staff to put together a large production shoot.
- Work with equipment rental houses, understanding the gear they should ask for.
- Manage their team and ensure the client gets the best possible product.
- How to be involved in creative calls and work within a team to create a single image.
- How to find, direct, and work with models.
ASSISTING & DIGITAL TECH
Graduates will be able to:
- Set up, break down, and pack studio equipment properly, safely, and efficiently.
- Perform important maintenance tasks on studio and camera gear.
- Set up Capture One Pro or Adobe Lightroom as a tethering program in the studio.
- Manage files as they load into a computer from a tethered camera.
- Know how to sell themselves as assistants and how to maintain a professional resume.
- Effectively assist on a shoot – understand the assistant role and how to communicate effectively with the other members of the production team.
- Understand the expectations of a Digital Tech: capture, metadata, retouching, layouts and asset management.
- Understand how to setup and utilize advanced grip and lighting equipment.
OUTPUT & GRAPHIC DESIGN
Graduates will be able to:
- Print images from Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
- Export images for a wide variety of uses on the web, print or digital.
- Outsource prints to a photo lab.
- Understand different color spaces and what each one is used for.
- Use typography and color to convey their brand through a chosen font.
- Understand graphic design and how to use design to further their brand.
- Understand how to hire professional designers to develop a brand.
- Design their logo, business card and leave-behind using Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator.
- Design, create and print a digital portfolio using Adobe InDesign.
- Understand professional printing options for promotional materials.
Graduates will be able to:
- Understand how photographic principles apply to videography.
- Understand the technical settings of videography and the creative implications.
- Edit and create videos using Adobe Premiere Pro.
- Record an interview using constant lights and audio equipment.
- Record B-roll for use in a final video project.
- Export video for a variety of different mediums.
- Create interesting and engaging video scenes for commercial purposes.
Graduates will be exposed to (and have worked with) the following genres of photography:
MENTORS & COLLABORATORS
- Understand how to make connections in the industry with their peers, industry leaders and potential clients.
- Have received useful 1:1 time given by instructors and mentors to help them improve their portfolio and plans.
- Possess an impressive list of industry connections.
- Be part of a support system of fellow aspiring and professional photographers.
- Understand how to work professionally with collaborators of all kinds.
- Have received post-school mentoring to help launch their career.
Do I really need to go to school for photography?
No, you don't.
You could take it upon yourself to learn online, from books, or attend seminars and workshops and piece together a well-rounded education over the course of your career.
But why not invest in learning all of the right skills, the right way, the first time around?
RMSP instructors have the information you need and know how to present it in ways that make sense immediately. Don't waste time and energy trying to learn the ropes on your own when you could be focused on gaining speed and developing your vision.
SOME PROFESSIONALS SIMPLY WING IT.
NOT RMSP GRADUATES.
Without the technical mastery and precision that deliver outstanding results, the effort you've put into your photography business won't matter. Plenty of photographers take good photos, but very few know how to create and produce exceptional work that will stand out in a saturated marketplace. Some professionals simply wing it, unsure what they're doing with their cameras and why. Not RMSP graduates. You'll develop a technical foundation so strong it's ingrained. This is the reason RMSP requires that students take every foundational class, and why every student must become well versed in both commercial and retail photography. Being comfortably tech-savvy during a shoot means you can focus on what really matters: creativity and style.
Every Professional Intensive student will also graduate as a Phase One Certified Professional (POCP), which makes a huge difference for students wanting jobs as digital techs, studio assistants, or commercial photographers. Each student will also receive a complimentary copy of Capture One Pro 10 installed on their laptop.
Professional Intensive students will learn the ins and outs of both retail and commercial photography. That means graduates leave with twice the job opportunities.
What is Retail Photography?
Retail photography encompasses genres in which photographers create memories or document events for individual people.
What is Commercial Photography?
Commercial photography encompasses genres in which photographers create images that help sell a product or service for a business or agency.
Architecture & Interiors
Advertising & Product
Adventure & Lifestyle
Fashion & Glamour
Celebrity & Band
2015 Career Training Graduate
From: Snowmass, CO
Now lives: Portland, OR
27 years old
Q: What led you to RMSP?
A:So I was a hobby photographer for the most part. I was in the Coast Guard and I traveled a lot and had a camera that I would shoot on port calls. When I got out of the Coast Guard I thought, well, I don't want to work for anyone again, I want to have my own business. I went to art school and studied film and media art and realized that none of it mattered. In my opinion a 4-year art program does nothing for you as a photographer; all it does is delay you in getting to work. There's nothing that can help you develop a portfolio like hard work, and I was looking for a program that could help me get there as fast as I could. I had been looking at RMSP for a couple years before I went, and then I thought, why did I wait so long?
Q: As a professional photographer, how did RMSP help you?
A:I came to RMSP with an open mind, because I'd never worked as a professional creative. Never, nothing in the media world – video, photography – and I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew what I liked doing. I thought I wanted to do wildlife and outdoor photography, because that's what I like, but the instructors helped guide me by giving me more background knowledge. RMSP definitely gave me more of a sense of direction. The outdoor industry is not very lucrative and extremely competitive. Right now I do commercial advertising and stock.
Q: What advice do you have about becoming a professional photographer?
A:Being a pro photographer is super hard. I wish I had gotten into it when I was right out of high school. The ones who started when they were 18 or 19 years old are so far ahead of me. They're killing it. They've already got great careers.
It takes all four years at college to learn what you learn at one summer at RMSP, and that's technically speaking, that's not getting into the creative side.
You have to assert yourself in an industry that doesn't want you. There is not a need for more photographers. You have to make a lot of noise, do things differently, and make yourself stand out. You have to actually push yourself really hard when you first start out. But it's super rewarding. Everything you put into it, every ounce of your effort is always shown. Every victory is due to your hard work, and every failure is due to what you did wrong. If you enjoy learning from your successes, it's extremely rewarding. And it's awesome, you get to travel around and take pictures for a living.
Q: Did you ever think about trying to learn photography on your own?
A:You can teach yourself photography, sure. But how much time are you willing to screw around learning the basic skills, the basic skills, before you can go out and do what you want to do? You can read books and all that. But if you're making a life change, a career change, and you're just getting into it, when you've got bills to pay, it's so much better to go to school for X amount of time and learn, and then you're ready to go as soon as you leave. Or you could try to watch, like, 700 YouTube videos and figure it out… there's something to be said for quick learning. But when you're immersed in a program where you have everything at your fingertips, you're going to learn exponentially faster. And you'll learn the proper way. Especially with lighting. If you need to learn lighting, are you going to go down to the rental house, rent five lights, set them up in the living room and try to figure out what you're doing? You'll get so frustrated. But when you're with an instructor, you gain a deep understanding of what you're doing, in a studio space.
Q: What are the most important things you learned from RMSP?
A:You always hear, oh it's impossible, the industry sucks. But there are also more images floating around now than ever, and people are paying for those images, so it's definitely doable. If you make a full-blown commitment, you will succeed. Those who don't succeed, it's because they're not fully committed. You can't expect to come to school and leave with a piece of paper that says you went to RMSP. Nobody cares. You can't lean on anything but your work. All the industry cares about is the fact that your work is great. People who show up thinking it's going to be some kind of a crutch, a certificate of completion – that's not how it works.
RMSP gave me the confidence to just start shooting and make a living out of it. If I gained one thing from the program it's that it gives you the confidence you need to make it as a professional photographer.
READ MORE STUDENT TESTIMONIALS:
Our first 8-month Professional Intensive class is still in session, so you'll have to trust those who attended RMSP's 5-month Career Training program before 2017. Read what some of them have said below. And just imagine: you'll get three additional months to learn!
Perks of Registering For Professional Intensive
Capture One Pro 10
Capture One Pro 10 is a cutting edge imaging software program designed to help professional photographers streamline their workflow. Each Professional Intensive student will receive a free copy of Capture One Pro 10 after starting the program!
Two Years of BlinkBid
Creating estimates and invoicing clients before and after a big photography project can be difficult and chaotic, but BlinkBid makes it easy. Each Professional Intensive student will receive two free years of BlinkBid to help with this process and make starting their business a little easier.
EDU Advantage Program
By registering and completing any course with us, you will automatically be eligible for EDU status with B&H Photo. EDU members can save money on select items sold by B&H.
Creative Cloud Subscription
The software you use in your workflow is almost as crucial as your camera. Register for any RMSP course and you will receive a code to save 15% on a Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for the first year.