WHAT IS SUMMER INTENSIVE?

Our Summer Intensive program has been running strong since 1989, and there's a reason students enroll year after year. We care about our students. And our goal? It's simple: to help you become the best photographer you can be. Immerse yourself in five core areas of study, enhance your knowledge of everything photography, and leave feeling confident and inspired to take stunning photographs and creatively express yourself through your images. Are you ready for the photography experience of a lifetime?

Tuition
$4,395
  • Deposit
    $500
  • Early Registration Discount
    -$500
    if registered before 12/31/2019
Apply Now

A Different Kind of Education

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 meet you where you are, teach you, and help you achieve your personal, creative vision. No matter your skill level, everyone develops the same solid foundation by the end of our program. Nowhere else can you walk in with limited photographic knowledge, dive headlong into an immersive, six-week curriculum, and emerge with the confidence and know-how of a well-rounded photographer. There's no substitute for pursuing what you love in an inspired community of other budding artists, and you'll learn as much about yourself in this program as you will about photography. You simply can't get an education like this and walk away unchanged.

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.

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.

Course Descriptions

Camera

Camera begins with fundamentals. Learn how to use your DSLR or mirrorless camera and how shutter speeds, f-stops, ISO and color balance affect your images. 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.

Creative

Creative 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.

Edit

Edit 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.

Light

Light 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

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.

Instructors

INSTRUCTOR
Gabe Biderman

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.

Website

Instagram

INSTRUCTOR
Jessica Carter

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.

Instagram

INSTRUCTOR
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.

Forest and Sarah also own a aerial media company: Altitude Media

Instagram

INSTRUCTOR
Neil Chaput de Saintonge
Neil Chaput de Saintonge, a former junior high science teacher, has taught photography for almost 50 years, to over 20,000 students. In that time, he has taught 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. In Professional Intensive, Summer Intensive and Workshops, Neil lectures, critiques student work, and meets one-on-one with students to talk about cameras and lenses, and - most importantly - he helps them find their own path in photography. 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 licensed massage therapist for 30 years, is a Reiki Master and teaches healing work.
INSTRUCTOR
Sarah Chaput de Saintonge

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, and has worked as an instructor and assistant ever since. 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.

Website

Instagram

INSTRUCTOR
Rob Gappert

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.

Instagram

Website

INSTRUCTOR
Quinn Hegwood

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.

Instagram

Website

INSTRUCTOR
Marcy James

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.

Website

Instagram

INSTRUCTOR
Doug Johnson

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.

Website

Instagram

INSTRUCTOR
Jeff McLain

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.

Website
Website

Instagram

GRADUATE Q&A

Sheeron Salinas

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.

Details

Tuition

Tuition for the 2020 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.

Don't miss the Early Registration discounts! If you register by December 31st, you'll receive $500 off your tuition. If you register before March 31st, you'll receive $250 off your tuition!


Housing

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 spring of 2020 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.


Application

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


Enrollment

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 read and agree to the Enrollment Agreement. You complete the enrollment process by paying your tuition deposit (see Tuition tab).


Entrance Requirements

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.


Financial Aid

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

For the full details of this loan option including payment terms and interest rate, please contact Katelyn Bykari at MFCU via email at Katelyn.Bykari@missoulafcu.org.

Equipment & 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 2020 for a list of approved cameras)
  • One normal lens
  • 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 Classic
  • Tripod legs
  • Tripod head

What you need to purchase after you arrive
We'll share information in classes to help you make these purchases

  • Dedicated flash unit
  • Wireless flash trigger or transmitter for your flash unit
  • Paper for printing
  • Package of 8.5 x 11 archival photo sheet protectors in a three-ring binder or binder box

What we recommend you purchase after you arrive

  • Camera bag
  • Additional lenses
  • Filters
  • Sensor cleaning supplies
  • Cable release or intervalometer

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.

When does the 2020 SI course run?

Monday, June 15 - Friday, July 24, 2020

What is the cutoff date for enrollment?

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.

Are there any entrance requirements for the Summer Intensive program?

No prior photographic experience is necessary for enrollment. You must be a high school graduate (or have GED equivalency) to attend SI.

What level photographer should attend SI?

Summer Intensive is designed for photographers who are looking to improve their technical skills while immersing themselves in the creative process. You do not need prior photographic experience to enroll. We start with the basics (f-stops, shutter speeds, equipment) and proceed quickly to more advanced topics (flash, creative processes, digital image-editing). Student ages generally range from 18 to over 70. Students come from all over the country and world. Interests include nature, portraiture, fine art, and everything in between.

What level of prior computer expertise is needed to succeed in the program?

Image management and editing is an important component of the Summer Intensive curriculum, therefore, intermediate computer navigation skills are required. If you have limited experience using computers, we highly recommend that you enroll in a computer basics course in your local community as preparation for the program.

What if I have to miss classes?

Due to the pace of teaching in SI, we encourage students to try their hardest not to miss any of their classes. Attendance is taken at all classes, and final certification is partly based on attendance. If absence is inevitable, advance notice is required in order to proactively remediate the missed work. Unplanned absences do, of course, also happen, in which case the administrative team will work with the students on a case by case basis.

Where do I live during SI?

All enrolled students will have access to housing information that we collect and compile from rental agencies as well as private individuals who have space to rent to our students.

Do I need a car for the summer?

Missoula is a bike-friendly city with good public bus lines. However, one of the great pleasures of the summer is being able to explore the beautiful state of Montana and shoot. A car will be necessary to be able to do that. We do encourage all students to carpool for excursions while in the program.

What kind of equipment and supplies do I need?

A list of equipment and supplies needed for the program can be found on this website under "Summer Intensive: Equipment and Supplies".

Do I need to bring my computer?

Yes. We require students to bring laptops and use them when working in our digital labs as well as during Edit classes.

Please feel free to contact us either by phone or email with any further questions you may have. We look forward to welcoming you to RMSP Summer Intensive!

Cancellation Policy

  1. A full refund of all money paid will be made to any applicant who cancels his or her enrollment within 72 hours (until midnight of the third day, excluding weekends and legal holidays) of enrolling in the program.
  2. A full refund of all money paid, less the tuition deposit, will be made to any applicant who cancels enrollment prior to the start of the program (and after the 72-hour cancellation privilege).
  3. For cancellations received after the program is in progress: RMSP retains full tuition.
  4. For no-shows: RMSP retains full tuition.
  5. Refunds will be processed within 30 days after our office receives notice of cancellation.

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 impractical for the student to complete Summer 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.

Perks of Registering

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.

What Gear Do You Need?

Want a specific lens for a workshop? Need some extra gear for your next shoot? Renting gear from Lens Pro To Go allows you to try before you buy! Upon registering for a course, you will receive a discount code for 10% off your next rental.