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.
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.
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.
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.
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 has free access to training to become a Phase One Certified Professional (POCP) during school, 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 installed on their laptop.
Having taught for three years now at Rocky Mountain School of Photography, I have seen firsthand just how well prepared the students that go through the Professional Intensive program are compared to when I entered the profession many years ago. If I would have had access to this level of training and expertise it would have accelerated my career massively—and made me a much better photographer in the process. As far as I know there are very few programs like this left in the USA. If you are looking to make a career in photography the RMSP Professional Intensive is a great way to kick off your career.
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.
I genuinely wish I had the opportunity to be part of the Professional Intensive program when I was new to the photography industry. I think it’s one of the best programs available. My college degree was very heavy in art, which was great to a limit. Zero business or any tools to actually…you know…make a living. The Professional Intensive program covers everything you need to know to be a thriving professional – from technology and skills to creativity, business planning, and so much more. The professional photographers and instructors are always top notch and inspirational. Plus, Rocky Mountain School of Photography is in gorgeous Montana! This program is truly a rare gem.
There are many photography programs that teach you how to think creatively and use all the equipment available to make pretty photos. RMSP will do this for you, and so much more! It's the more that really matters.
I firmly believe that now, more than ever before, the keys to a successful career as a photographer have less than ever to do with making beautiful images.
To be successful now, having a website with a portfolio of amazing photos is the bare minimum. Now, with so much competition and constant change in the industry, it's all about knowing how to navigate the current marketplace. How to get noticed and get hired. You need to know how to find clients, how to market to them, how to bid, how to negotiate, and how to rock a photoshoot like a boss.
RMSP's professional program is fast-paced, and intense. It packs what others spend years teaching into months. Their staff instructors are passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated to teaching you all they know. Additionally, they bring in more pro photographers to teach their niche specialties – people who are running successful businesses now – so you can be assured you're getting the most current information available. This hands-on approach is invaluable.
By attending RMSP's Professional Intensive, you will graduate knowing that you have all the knowledge you need to make it, and that is worth everything!
Choosing to make photography your career demands a level of commitment that will challenge you both technically and creatively in ways you can’t begin to imagine. Photography, as a practice, is a moving target with technologies and business opportunities constantly evolving. Professional success depends on cutting edge instruction, equipment access and curriculum design. RMSP understands this and is better than anyone I know at helping aspiring photographers carve out careers for themselves that can sustain them financially as well as creatively.
The RMSP coursework is rigorous and evolves each year because the school is independent and privately owned, so there is no red tape or administrative processes to slow them down from embracing what is happening in the photography world right now. RMSP is demanding of their students, which, trust me, you want. At the same time, the staff is all heart and will do everything they can to help every student design their goals, develop their technical skills and expand their minds while developing individualized businesses.
In addition, RMSP’s approach to foundational photographic skills is so comprehensive that you will quickly lose count of how many ‘a ha’ moments there are to discover. You may be coming to the beautiful mountains of Montana, but the advanced level of instruction in the latter half of the course will be brought to you via successful working professionals from all over the country. RMSP believes that every student is unique and thus every student needs a strong range of technical, creative and professional perspectives to help them become the photographer they want to be. Because of this, Professional Intensive is entirely unique.
RMSP's Professional Intensive transports you to one of my personal favorite places in the world, Missoula, Montana. I love working with their students who commit 8 months of tight-knit foundation learning while stretching their creativity and balancing their business acumen. Each student leaves with the confidence & knowledge to successfully pursue a career in photography, as well as lifelong friendships that were forged at RMSP.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Retail photography encompasses genres in which photographers create memories or document events for individual people.
Commercial photography encompasses genres in which photographers create images that help sell a product or service for a business or agency.
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.
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Graduates will be exposed to (and have worked with) the following genres of photography:
Photographer. Traveler. Seeker of human connection. Alex specializes in contemporary women’s portraiture and feels most alive when she’s creating intimate and evocative images that make people feel beautiful and seen. She attended RMSP in 2011 and will always carry a fondness for Missoula and the places where she first learned to view the world through her lens. She calls Utah home but has traveled much of the world in search of experiences and connections bigger than herself. She’s a little cheeky and a lover of home-made pasta, good wine, and lingering conversations with interesting, kind people.
Theresa Bear graduated from Rocky Mountain School of Photography (Otherwise known as The Hogwarts School of Photography). She is a human with the last name of an animal she aspires to be. Her dog is named after the stars (Star) and her baby Oak is named after a tree. Her work, life, and understanding of the World is completely inspired by the magic of nature and the beauty of life on Earth. Her process is wild and messy and full of emotion. You will always see flowers in her work or pieces of nature. It is a theme that isn’t going away. Her goal … to remind people that they’re an unstoppable force of magic.
Gabriel Bidermanhas 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.
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.
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. 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; in addition to business courses, she also teaches wildlife, nature, and abstract photography.
Forest Chaput de Saintonge directs 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, hike, photograph, and be an astrophotographer. Forest has a degree 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 Classic, Photoshop, and Astrophotography
His astrophotography can be found here: FoFoAstro
Forest and Sarah also own an aerial media company: Altitude Media
Simply stated, Jeanne has been involved in anything and everything that has happened at RMSP since its inception. In a time before RMSP existed, Jeanne graduated from Florida State University where she majored in English. After marrying Neil, the two decided to pack it up and make the move to Montana. She now works as the school's logistics, business and finance guru.
Sarah Chaput de Saintonge directs Rocky Mountain School of Photography with her husband, Forest. She has a BA in photojournalism and enjoys experimenting with many kinds of photography, but her primary interest is portraiture. She attended RMSP's Career Training program in 2011, ran a business in consumer portraiture for a while, then started working as an instructor and teaching assistant. She successfully completed one 365 project (take a photo a day for a year) and once made it to 155 consecutive days of making self portraits. She is now documenting ten years of her life with a daily photo of a person, place, or thing. She loves people, image editing, composition, film, her cats, and Forest.
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. He has been featured in Digital Photo Pro, Outdoor Photographer, Nikon World Magazine, Digital Photographer, Rangefinder Magazine, and New Mexico Magazine 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, Fujifilm, Adobe, Red Bull, Microsoft, Nokia, Patagonia, New Balance, Propel/Gatorade, Pfizer, DuPont, 20th Century Fox, Black Diamond, Prana, Arc'teryx, Camelbak, La Sportiva, and Gregory Packs.
Mark Cluney is a wedding and editorial photographer based in Des Moines, Iowa. 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 his spare time, he loves to read, study classic fashion and portrait photography, and spend time with his wife (Angela), son (Eastwood) and daughter (Paloma). 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.
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.
Rob Gappert is a landscape and nature photographer. He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota but now calls Missoula home. Rob enjoys the outdoors and has been shooting landscapes for the better part of 15 years. He loves to travel with his family and is a self-proclaimed “National Park Junkie”. Rob is a 2015 Summer Intensive graduate and loves to share his passion for the art.
Quinn Hegwood is one of RMSP's core instructors, specializing in printing and social media. She enjoys photographing people in their natural habitat, primarily mothers and children, and she is on a constant search for light. Quinn is passionate about helping students to discover the artist within themselves.
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.
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.
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.
Lucas Mobley is a wedding photographer in Seattle, Washington. He started his business in 2006. Prior to that he photographed football games in the midwest, walked into wildfires in California, and witnessed everything in between as a staff photojournalist at newspapers around the states. His editorial work has been published in Men's Vogue, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times, to name a few.
In 2018 he and his partner, Kathryn Stevens, spent the summer living in their RV on a blueberry farm, while Kathryn taught photography at the local community college. It was there in an open field in 100+ degree heat that they learned the art tintype photography. The amazing 1851 photography process is Lucas’ passion and he offers it under the brand Sunroom Analog in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon.
Montana-based artist, Scott ‘Raff’ Rafferty has been honing his skills as a photographer and image maker since the late '90s when he was first trained as a professional photo finisher in high-end traditional labs. His path has since taken a windy road throughout many different creative disciplines beyond photography, including product design, brand development, graphic design, and interior space curation. Raff’s melting pot of experiences all share a common thread, which is his passion for strong composition in creative expression. Whether it’s taking a photo of a still life or styling the furniture in a client’s living room, the fundamentals are the same (and they are to be honored). Most recently Raff has fallen in love with a new discipline- Aerial Photography. As a licensed and trained drone pilot he now takes his photography ‘to new heights’ by exploring shape, color, movement, and composition from the skies.
Ben Reed is a photographer and cinematographer based in Bozeman, Montana. Originally from the coastal region of North Carolina, he grew up exploring the woods and waves, which led him to photography, and eventually surf photography. In 2010, he attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography (RMSP) in Missoula, MT, where he developed his keen eye and later moved to the North Shore of Oahu to engross himself in the ultimate surf destination and pursue surf photography with Brian Bielmann, eventually shifting into cinematography too, especially with the Red Digital Cinema Dragon by his side.
If he's not hiking around Glacier National Park, he's in front of a computer. If he's not paddling his kayak around a lake in western Montana, he's in front of a computer. If he's not at the gym, he's playing video games with Forest... in front of a computer. With degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Information Technology, Tony is the smartest person on our staff and is responsible for maintaining all of RMSP's digital systems. He is a Wisconsin native and a graduate of RMSP's 2008 class of our former Career Training program.
Colin Ruggiero is a filmmaker and photographer in Missoula, Montana. He has produced a variety of award-winning independent films and shorts and has worked as a cameraman for clients such as National Geographic, Discovery, ESPN, and PBS among others. He loves the ocean and has spent many hours working as an underwater cinematographer. He received an M.F.A. in Documentary Filmmaking from the Discovery Networks Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program and has taught a variety of filmmaking and photography classes for The International Wildlife Media Center and Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Although much of his work focuses on the natural world, he enjoys turning his lens on anything that inspires him. In addition to being a filmmaker, Colin is a musician who has traveled throughout Latin America studying music.
Rob Sylvan is a photographer, teacher, and author, who is also the Lightroom Help Desk Specialist for KelbyOne, and an instructor for the Bryan Peterson School of Photography and the Digital Photo Workshops. Rob writes the “Under the Loupe” column for Photoshop User Magazine, and is the author of many photography related books and videos such as Lightroom 5: Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process, Lightroom 3 Video QuickStart Guide, Taking Stock, and Nikon D750: From Snapshots to Great Shots to name a few. In 2002, while working as an instructional designer, Rob started shooting stock as a hobby that quickly led to a joining the (then) six-person team inspecting all the submissions to iStockphoto. In 2005 Rob was tasked with the responsibility of providing detailed feedback to all contributors looking to understand the underlying reasons for their rejected submissions, which led to the creation of the very successful Scout program on iStockphoto. Over nearly a decade he was part of the content team that grew the collection from under 30,000 files to over nine million. After leaving iStockphoto Rob went on to become one of the founding contributors to Stocksy United, where he currently serves on the board of directors. Witnessing the stock industry from the inside out provided incredible insight into all the facets of what it takes to create useful stock imagery.
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.
RMSP changed my life and I feel so incredibly blessed that I was able to experience something so life changing. The amount of growth that happened the past 8 months has been remarkable and immeasurable. I know that I will forever be telling everyone about my incredible experience at RMSP!
I've gained so much confidence during this program that I really feel like I can make my dream a reality.
The best thing about PI was the diverse instruction.
I can say with confidence, now that I am working, that I have been prepared for the actual work. Sometimes, [I'm] even more prepared than my self-taught peeers who have been working for years."
The PI program has given me the support, tools, direction and onfidence to go forward and create a profitable and meaningful career in photography. I honestly wish that I had taken the PI program ten years ago when I started my company.
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:
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:
Tuition for the 2021/2022 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. Sixty days before the start of the program, a minimum payment of $7,450 is due to RMSP. The final balance ($20,000) is due to RMSP 30 days before the start of the program.**
*Tuition deposit is refundable to Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students who cancel their enrollment.
**Please see the Enrollment Agreement for special considerations and exceptions regarding tuition payment policies for Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students.
Don't miss the Early Registration discounts! If you register by December 31st of the year before the program begins, you'll receive $1,000 off your tuition. If you register before March 31st of the year the program begins, you'll receive $500 off your tuition. And if you register before June 30th of the year the program begins, you'll receive $250 off your tuition!
Save money by paying with a check! Due to the large tuition amount of Professional Intensive, credit card processing fees can really add up. We always prefer students to pay by check when possible, but we understand that can make things difficult. That’s why we’re offering $250 off of your tuition if you make your first and second payment with a check.
Here's how it works.
And yes, this can be combined with the other PI discounts that we offer.
Student Loan: 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. This is a "private" loan, not a "federal" loan. 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.
RMSP’s Professional Intensive program has been approved by the Montana State Approving Agency to accept VA education benefits for those who are eligible to participate. We have had many students use VA benefits to pay for their education at RMSP.
To attend Professional Intensive using your VA benefits, follow these steps:
To learn more and see FAQ's, click here.
RMSP High School Scholarships
Rocky Mountain School of Photography will award five $5,000 tuition scholarships for the 2021-2022 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.
Additional ideas for funding your education can be found in our Funding Resources for PI guide.
The Professional Intensive program begins at 9am on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. The program ends on Friday, May 13, 2022.
Classes typically start at 9 a.m. Depending on the day, classes may end at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. or be out by noon. There are also some evening classes and field shoots. In general, there are no weekend classes. But there could be a lab, studio session, review session or field trip scheduled on an occasional Saturday.
The PI program is divided into 3 phases of instruction:
The following breaks in the schedule will be observed:
In addition, there will be no classes on the following holidays:
Below you will find a general list of the gear required to attend Professional Intensive. To learn more about these items and why we require them, check out this video.
If you are just looking for direct links to the required gear, here is our list of links. This PDF contains links to exact pieces of gear we recommend.
Lastly, here is our written equipment guide if you want to learn more about the gear required to attend the program.
What you need to bring to the program:
What you need to purchase after you arrive:
We'll share information once you arrive to help you make these purchases.
What we recommend you purchase after you arrive:
Housing in Missoula is generally easy to find. RMSP recommends that students check with Craigslist, Airbnb, and Vrbo for listings of available housing opportunities. In the summer of 2021 RMSP will make available any housing leads we are given from the community.
A conveniently-located housing option is Copper Run Apartments, located just two miles southeast of RMSP, at 2200 Great Northern Ave. Phone 406-541-2300.
Copper Run offers a selection of floor plans, ranging from studios to 2 beds/2 bath units. Attractive lease options are available — and pets are allowed for an additional fee. Rent ranges from $910 to $1245/month (as of 9/2020).Copper Run amenities include:
Another housing option for Professional Intensive students is a new facility called ROAM Student Living. Located downtown on Front Street, ROAM offers fully furnished units with a variety of floor plans and price points. Amenities include high-speed internet, a washer/dryer and dishwasher in every apartment, covered bike and car parking, and a 24-hour fitness center. Space is limited and fills up fast.
One more good housing option for Professional Intensive students is The Sawyer, located between downtown and RMSP, in the Old Sawmill District along Missoula's beautiful Clark Fork River. The Sawyer Student Living complex. Proximity to downtown and numerous amenities make this an attractive option.
Below are some resources that may help you decide if PI is right for you.
RMSP instructor Mike Tittel talks about why he recommends RMSP for aspiring entrepreneurial photographers. A 1999 RMSP graduate himself, Mike Tittel is an accomplished commercial and advertising photographer who shares his industry-current knowledge with our Professional Intensive students.
One of our graduates, Helbert Ruiz (or Helby, as we know him) is an adventure photographer who overlanded in his decked-out Jeep from Alaska to Argentina recently. Helby is an explorer and dreamer who strives to make his photographs reflect his joy in life: helping others get outside.
The Professional Intensive program begins at 9am on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. The program ends on Friday, May 13, 2022.
We accept applications on a first come, first served basis until the program is full. We recommend that students enroll early due to our enrollment limit. We will accept enrollment up to the start of classes if space is available.
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:
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.
Yes, there will be three breaks in the schedule:
Thanksgiving break: November 24-28, 2021
Holiday break: December 18, 2021 - January 9, 2022
Spring break: March 9-13, 2022
In addition, there will be no classes on the following holidays:
Veterans Day: November 11, 2021
Martin Luther King Day: January 17, 2022
Presidents' Day: February 21, 2022
Classes typically start at 9 a.m. Depending on the day, you may end at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. or be out by noon. There are also some evening classes and field shoots.
Usually, no. But there could be a lab, studio session, review session or field trip scheduled on an occasional Saturday.
Attending classes is necessary to succeed in RMSP's intense learning environment. Attendance is taken in all required sessions and more than 10 unexcused absences will result in the student not earning a Certificate of Completion. A detailed attendance policy, including information about excused absences, is provided at orientation.
Yes. The Professional Intensive curriculum consists of core courses, supplemental classes, special lectures, labs, review sessions, and Educational Partner presentations. Assignments, quizzes, tests, and projects will be given and are typically graded on a normal 0-100% basis. At student orientation, RMSP will provide a grading rubric that outlines the weighting of each course and phase. To receive a Certificate of Completion and graduate from PI, the student must receive a final grade of 70% or higher.
No. RMSP is not a degree-granting institution. Graduates receive a Certificate of Completion.
All deposits and tuition balances must be paid on or prior to the schedule as follows:
Your $500.00 tuition deposit is due at the time of enrollment. This deposit is non-refundable. It is applied to the tuition for the program. The first tuition payment of $7,450 is due 60 days before the program begins. The final payment of $20,000 is due 30 days before the start of the program.*
*Please see Enrollment Agreement for payment deadline exceptions granted to Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students.
Yes. Rocky Mountain School of Photography will award a $5000 tuition scholarship to each of five high school graduates who graduate the same year they begin Professional Intensive. To learn more about the scholarship and how to apply, please click here.
You'll have to find your own place to live. We post listings from local landlords who have apartments to rent - and info from local folks who want to rent out space in their homes. There is a student-housing option (ROAM) only a few blocks from RMSP.
Missoula is a bike-friendly city with good public bus lines. But, you'll most likely want a car when you're here for the PI program because one of the great pleasures of being here is the ability to explore the beautiful state of Montana. There are also multiple shoots away from the school and you'll need your own transportation to get to the shoots (or you can carpool with other students, which we do encourage).
Also, for trips home during breaks or when family and friends come to visit you, it's good to know that Missoula is easy to travel to on the following airlines: Delta, Alaska, United, Horizon, Frontier and Allegiant.
Please see the section under Professional Intensive called, "Equipment & Supplies" for information on what you need to have in terms of gear and supplies.
Although it is challenging, it can be done. Ask Bob McGowan at our office for contact information for past students who have held down a job — and you can ask them about their experiences.
Yes, absolutely! We welcome the opportunity to meet you and show you around. Just give us a call and we can set that up.
Sorry, we do not.
In the case of a student's prolonged illness or injury, a death in the student's immediate family, or other circumstances that make it infeasible for the student to complete Professional Intensive, RMSP, at its sole discretion, will make a settlement that it considers reasonable and fair to both parties. The school will propose a settlement within 30 days of the official date of withdrawal.
For students receiving VA education benefits who withdraw from the Professional Intensive program, RMSP will refund the portion of the tuition which represents the percent of the program not completed (as measured in days). Portion paid by the VA will be refunded to the VA according to the following table. Portion paid by the student will be refunded to the student according to the following table. Refunds will be made within 40 days of written notice of withdrawal.
|VA/Student Entitled Upon Withdrawal/Termination||Refund|
|10% of program completed||90%|
|20% of program completed||80%|
|30% of program completed||70%|
|40% of program completed||60%|
|50% of program completed||50%|
|60% of program completed||40%|
|70% of program completed||30%|
|80% of program completed||20%|
|90% of program completed||10%|
Capture One Pro 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 after starting the program!
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 one free year of BlinkBid to help with this process and make starting their business a little easier.
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.
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.