June 18, 2018 through July 27, 2018


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.

Want six college credits for the six weeks you're learning photography? You can get them through the University of Montana! Click here to learn more!
Tuition: $4,395
Deposit: $500


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.


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

Digital Capture

Shooting Action

Advanced Exposure

F-stops, ISO, & Shutter Speeds


Zone System

Night Photography

Landscape, Wildlife, & Macro

HDR & Panoramas

Inkjet & Outsource Printing

Photojournalism & Documentary


Photo History

Visual Language

Understanding Light

Contemporary Trends

Mounting, Matting, & Framing

Flash & Natural Lighting

Image Storage & Editing

Retouching Techniques

Print & Digital Lab Sessions

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.

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
Morning: Outsource Printing
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

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

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.



Jesse Boone

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.



Sarah Ehlen

Photography has been a lifelong passion of Sarah’s, with a focus on landscape, nature, and travel imagery. She is a graduate of Rocky Mountain School of Photography’s Summer Intensive Program, where she currently works as an instructor. She is an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom, and loves helping people learn the skills needed to take their photography further, both in the field and behind the computer. She enjoys the process of creating and marketing her images as fine art prints, and her work has also been published in Portland Magazine, Montana Magazine, and Big Sky Journal. Prior to her time at RMSP, she spent a decade working as a Park Ranger at North Cascades National Park in Washington. With an extensive knowledge of the natural world, Sarah is able to bring a unique perspective to her teaching of landscape and nature photography.



Gabe Biderman

Gabriel Biderman has been exploring the night topography for over 20 years. Using film and digital, he blends the surreal look of the night to enhance historic and urban landscapes. Biderman’s work has been exhibited in NY, London, San Francisco, and Hawaii and he is the author of the recently released book Night Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots. To learn more about Gabriel visit




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 2018 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 2018 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


For the full details of this loan option including payment terms and interest rate, please contact Meagan Kraft at MFCU via email at


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 $155 fee to process the credits. If you are interested in earning college credit for SI, please contact our Staff Extrovert Andrew Benson. He can be reached via email at Learn more about this opportunity here.


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).

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.


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 2018 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
  • Filters
  • 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.



What our students say...

So, against all odds and logic, I made the bullheaded decision to move to Missoula, Montana to SOMEHOW attend Summer Intensive! With only a fraction of a year to figure it all out, I saved as much mon...

Charlie Bulla

Summer Intensive
WOW.... Superb, Amazing, Gratifying, Intense, Brilliant, Impressive, Colorful, Challenging, Fulfilling, Stunning, Loving, Encouraging, Free, Honest, Supportive, Creative, Astonishing, Life Changing, C...

Kelsie Throop

Summer Intensive
I had dreamed about attending Rocky Mountain School of Photography for years, but was convinced that it was just a pipe dream that would never really happen. Then I realized that the only thing stoppi...

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 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 fro 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.