WHAT IS SUMMER INTENSIVE?
What we offer at RMSP is so unique that some of our students have described it as "unreal". For six full weeks, you'll eat, breathe, sleep, and dream photography. Our classes are practical and hands-on; there's no dabbling in abstract theory or irrelevant course work. Unlike trying to teach yourself from books or online videos, our talented instructors will teach you, meet you where you are, and help you achieve your personal, creative vision.
THE SI EXPERIENCE
At RMSP, you can count on learning more than you ever thought possible - about cameras, equipment, and crafting images - from some of the world's most thoughtful and dedicated instructors. What you might not realize is that an RMSP education is about more than just photography. Summer Intensive students frequently tell us that the program blew their expectations out of the water. That's because the SI experience isn't just about capturing the best images of your life — it's about undertaking the communal journey of becoming a photographer and forming the kinds of friendships that last a lifetime. Going to school can be intimidating, especially in an intensive art program. Not at RMSP. We are a supportive community that encourages you to take risks and try something new. We're not about competition here. We're about becoming part of a family, the kind where everyone pushes one another to grow, collaborate and succeed.
WHO COMES TO SI?
Diversity is the key to creativity and learning, which is why everyone is welcome at RMSP. One of the highlights of our Summer Intensive is meeting people of different ages, skill levels and backgrounds. Some students come to us out of high school because they're looking to build a photographic foundation. Others have entered retirement and are eager to finally pursue their passion. Some students have never picked up a camera until day one, while others are eager to expand their existing skill set. We've had students who are veterans, mid-career professionals seeking a change, and everything in between. Over 2500 students in the past 29 years have traveled to Missoula from all over the U.S., England, Scotland, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, the Bahamas, Poland, Thailand, and elsewhere. It's unconventional, and we repeatedly hear from our alums that this variety is what truly makes and shapes the program. One thing that all of our students do have in common is a sense that life can't wait — that it's time to get off the couch and explore your photography calling.
Summer Intensive Curriculum
Composition & Color
F-stops, ISO, & Shutter Speeds
Landscape, Wildlife, & Macro
HDR & Panoramas
Inkjet & Outsource Printing
Photojournalism & Documentary
Mounting, Matting, & Framing
Flash & Natural Lighting
Image Storage & Editing
Print & Digital Lab Sessions
Photographic Studies begins with fundamentals. Learn how to use your DSLR and how shutter speeds, f-stops, ISO and color balance affect your images. With the basic skills under wraps, you'll experiment with different photographic genres, including landscape, macro, and photojournalism, and you'll learn about lenses, tripods, and the latest in camera technology. Then you'll head out on field shoots with RMSP instructors, where you'll get to tinker with your exciting new gear and understand how to make the most of your photographic toolkit.
Visual Studies is all about perception. You'll explore the history and evolution of photography and learn about composition, story, perspective, and style. You'll grow adept at identifying the qualities of extraordinary images and engage in interactive critiques with your group. Most importantly, you'll pursue your own unique vision and discover how best to express it.
Lighting is elemental. Being a good photographer is all about mastering light in its variations and forms. This course teaches you everything you need to know, from the fundamentals of seeing light to understanding the differences between natural and artificial lighting. You'll learn how to maximize light, shoot in low light, and accentuate images with a flash. In no time, you'll understand how to create polished, captivating photos.
Output is a crucial skill for photographers. You'll learn how to get your photos from your hard drive to their next destination. Color management, inkjet printing from Adobe Lightroom, using a print lab, and an introduction to social media will prepare you to share your work with the world.
Image Editing is where we bring the magic of photography to life. Our instructors will teach you how to turn a good image into an exceptional one. Using the latest version of Adobe Lightroom, you'll learn how to crop, sharpen, vignette, remove lens distortion, make corrections, bring out detail in your shadows and highlights, and many additional skills. Through follow-along instruction and one-on-one lab time, you'll master techniques for capturing, processing, and maximizing every image. Last but not least, you'll learn proper storage and workflow techniques so that photo editing doesn't become a major time drain.
Summer Intensive Exit Competencies: What will SI graduates actually know?
Throughout six weeks, there is a lot of time for lectures, assignments, shoots, homework, fun, learning and community, but what specifically will you leave Summer Intensive knowing? Click below to see the Summer Intensive Exit Competencies for a list of what Summer 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 these advanced concepts will also be covered thoroughly.
2013 Summer Intensive Graduate
From: Norman, OK
Q: Why did you decide to attend SI?
A:I did an RMSP Weekend in Dallas in 2012. I went to that workshop because I felt like I wasn't meeting people who could give me what I needed to know for photography. I just felt like I was missing something. So I was on the web and came across RMSP, and I went down and met Eileen and Tony at the workshop in Dallas. I took away so much more in those two days than I had learned in five years (of going to photography groups with people who were faking it till they were making it). After that I went to the Intermediate workshop, and that was an amazing class. I decided I wanted to do the SI program. So in 2013, I went, and it was one of the best life experiences I've ever had – from the learning, to thinking outside the box, to meeting people in the same field.
Q: How did your summer at RMSP affect you?
A:It was one of the best summers ever. I took away so much. My photography hasn't taken off as much as I hoped, because I have a teenager, you know, and life doesn't work in a linear fashion. But I just added an office to my house, so I can work on my photography more. At RMSP, it's not about ego. The instructors really took the time to help me outside of class. Not all classes are like that. The instructors, the whole RMSP family, made Summer Intensive happen. They make you feel like you're part of something. It's not like, “Here let's just take your money and be done with it.” It was more than that for me and for the classmates that I still keep in contact with. RMSP is fantastic; I just love them.
Q: What is something you learned at RMSP?
A:I learned that you have to take care of yourself before you take care of other people. Your photography, as with anything in life, has to be done with your perspective. It's based on your own experiences and how you see the world, because everyone has a different view of what the world looks like. I still struggle with comparing myself to other photographers. But you have to believe in yourself, and you have to pat yourself on the back for your own capabilities before you pat someone else's back. You have to believe in yourself first. I work on that every day. I'm not quite at a place with my photography that some people are, and I'm working on that in my own way and I'll get there in my own time. Comparing yourself to others is not going to help you.
Q: What did SI do for your photography skills?
A:Oh my gosh. The first thing being asked was, "What are you looking at?" Having someone say, "Before you even touch the shutter, what is it you're trying to express, what is it you're trying to capture, why are you taking this picture, what are you trying to convey?" For me that was a big deal. So now, when I take a picture, I really do have that in the back of my mind all the time. Whether it's a portrait or a landscape, I think, "What is it that I'm trying to capture, and why?"
Q: If you had to explain SI in one sentence, what would it be?
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.
Intense, fast, fun, furious, lifelong friendship, education, photography. I made lifelong friends, was educated in the field that I love, and loved what I had to do. If I had to describe it I would say warm and fuzzy.
A Week in the Life
A student at SI will spend an average of eight-to-ten hours a day immersed in photography. A typical week will walk you through multiple genres and topics with expert instructors. Classes run from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Full days of instruction coupled with constructive assignments enable students to spend all six weeks fully engaged in photography.
|Morning:||PS: Landscape II|
|Afternoon:||VS: Creating a Photo Essay|
|Morning:||Field Shoot: Landscape II, Sunrise|
|Afternoon:||PS: Photographing Action, Sports & Wildlife|
|Evening:||Field Shoot: Action, Sports & Animals|
|Morning:||PS: Macro Photography|
|Afternoon:||Field Shoot: Macro|
|Morning:||Edit: Advanced Develop Module|
|Afternoon:||PS: Low Light & Astro Photography|
|Evening:||Field Shoot: Sunset & Night Shoot at Garnet Ghost Town|
|Afternoon:||Edit Lab & Print Lab|
|Evening:||Mixer: Portraiture at Night with Flash|
Our historic Missoula campus sits at the heart of western Montana's creative arts scene, and at the confluence of three rivers and five valleys. We love it for the perfect balance it offers between outdoor pursuits and city life. There's no shortage of art galleries and studios within walking distance of RMSP. If you love music, the newly renovated Wilma Theater attracts top performers and artists. Missoula has an eclectic mix of restaurants, a thriving community of small businesses and nonprofits, its own celebrated coffee roasters and fun-loving residents who will make you feel instantly at home.
We're also surrounded by seven stunning wilderness areas. The western landscape is rich with history, from railroad-era buildings and architecture to picturesque ranches, old mining communities, ghost towns and forest service lookouts. The Lee Matcalf Wildlife Refuge and Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge are both easy day trips from town, and offer no shortage of opportunities to spot birds and other wildlife against the backdrop of spectacular mountain ranges. Oh, and did we mention that Glacier and Yellowstone national parks are both in our greater backyard?
There's an extraordinary quality to the light in Montana. The high altitude, long summer days, and rich palette of colors and textures make this one of the best “state-sized” studios in America. All in all, we're in an unbeatable location for the avid photographer. It's no wonder so many of our students come here to learn photography, and it's no wonder so many of them never want to leave.
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.
Forest Chaput de Saintonge
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, 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.
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.
Tim Cooper began his career as a commercial and assignment photographer working with clients such as The North Face, Vasque, 3M and The International Heart Institute of Montana. His editorial and commercial photographs have appeared in Travel and Leisure, The New York Times Magazine, Outdoor Photographer, Fly Rod and Reel, Northern Lights and Private Clubs as covers, advertising, art and editorial illustration. Tim now spends most of his time as an educator and writer, lecturing on photographic and digital imaging technologies. Tim has been the consultant and technical editor for many digital imaging books as well as the co-author of the book, Complete Photoshop® CS4 for Digital Photographers, as well as Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots with Gabriel Biderman. In his spare time, he continues his pursuit of fine art photography of the natural world.
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.
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 spring of 2017 RMSP will make available any housing leads we are given from the community and post them on the Summer Intensive Student Portal which is accessible by enrolled students.
Tuition for the 2017 Summer Intensive program is $4395. A $500 non-refundable, non-transferable deposit is due upon enrollment. This deposit amount ($500) is applied to the tuition for the program. The balance of tuition ($3895) may be paid in two installments. A minimum first payment of $2000 is due to RMSP 60 days before the start of the program. The final balance of $1895 is due to RMSP 30 days before the start of the program.
Financial Aid / Incentives
Missoula Federal Credit Union Summer Intensive Loan
Any student interested in Summer Intensive is welcome to apply for a student loan through the Missoula Federal Credit Union (MFCU). This loan option is open to any student accepted into the program, regardless of their current bank or where they currently reside. Some qualifications of this loan are:
- Student must be accepted into SI to qualify
- Must be 18+ to apply
- Must provide a letter of acceptance into the program
- Payment will be made to RMSP on your behalf
- Maximum loan amount is $3900
Attending University of Montana?
By enrolling in Summer Intensive at RMSP you can earn 6 undergraduate credits through the UM School of Journalism. The University of Montana requires an additional $135 fee to process the credits. If you are interested in earning college credit for SI, please contact Recruitment Specialist Andrew Benson. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about this opportunity here.
Weekend Intensive Incentive
Are you curious about Summer Intensive (SI)? Interested, but want to "try it before you buy it?" If you register for any 2017 Weekend Intensive course and then decide to register for Summer Intensive in 2017, we will apply your Weekend Intensive payment to your Summer Intensive tuition.
Application and Enrollment
To apply for Summer Intensive (SI) click the "Apply Now" button above and follow the online instructions. We accept applications for our Summer 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:
1. Give us some information about yourself
2. Write a short essay about your photographic goals
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 Summer Intensive. You must be a U.S. citizen, and you must be a high school graduate or have a General Educational Development (GED) certificate by the time of our program orientation. Exceptions to the high school graduation requirement are made at the sole discretion of the School Directors.
Equipment and Supplies
What you need to bring to the program
- Digital SLR camera body or an approved mirrorless interchangeable-lens digital camera body (contact us in the spring of 2017 for a list of approved cameras)
- One normal lens
- Dedicated flash unit
- Wireless flash trigger or transmitter for your flash unit
- Laptop computer
- Equipment manual(s)
- Three empty portable external hard drives (between 1TB and 5TB)
- Memory card for your camera
- Memory card reader (or slot on your laptop)
- Flash drive
- Monitor calibration tool
- Adobe Lightroom CC
- Tripod Legs
- Tripod Head
What we recommend you purchase after you arrive
- Camera bag
- Additional lenses
- Sensor cleaning supplies
- Cable release or intervalometer
- Paper for printing
- Package of 8.5 x 11 archival photo sheet protectors in a three-ring binder or binder box
If you are looking for more help on choosing equipment for Summer Intensive feel free to contact us! In the early spring we will release our detailed equipment list which has specific information on each item on the list and suggestions on what to purchase.
Perks of Registering For Summer Intensive
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 Photography Plan
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 20% off the Adobe Photography Plan.