Candace Merlino

Summer Intensive
When I think about how many summers have come and gone without making the scary jump of moving to Montana and attending Summer Intensive, it is more than I want to think about.  I am excited to know that I don’t have to think about it anymore. I have been patiently waiting for the courage to quit my job, leave my friends and family, and sacrifice everything to go to photography school in Missoula for about 7 years now. It took a Weekend Intensive class in Reno, NV in 2010, a Basic Photography workshop in Missoula in 2013, and a mental breakdown where I kept thinking “what if, what about, and I don’t know if I should ...” Then I heard “you have nothing to lose if you go” from my family. So in April of 2016, I signed up for Summer Intensive. I quit my great job the Friday before classes started, packed my truck, said goodbye to my family, friends and Nevada, drove 900 miles north and didn’t look back. 

The start of Summer Intensive is still a little blurry as there was so much excitement in the air from all the wonderful people joining together to pursue their lifelong dreams of becoming great photographers. People who were strangers at first quickly became some of the funniest people I know. We have struggled together, laughed together, and have gone on lots of adventures. I forgot to mention the hundreds of pictures we have taken together! 

The instructors here are just the same; I always learn something new from each one of them. Of course, learning photography doesn’t come easy and I have struggled along the way, but each one of them have been there to pick me up and help me focus – myself and my lens! They didn’t want me to just learn the information, they wanted me to live it, breathe it, know it, study it, practice it, and be able to repeat it.