Basic Photography Missoula, Montana

9/8/2018 - 9/14/2018

When photographers start out, most of them spend a couple of seconds reading their camera manual, quite a few minutes fiddling with the controls, and the following few years thinking they’ve “got it.” But then they look back and realize their photos on their fancy camera aren’t much better than their smartphone photos.

Our goal with this workshop is to help photographers gain a solid understanding of their camera, fundamental photographic principles, and best practices for lighting so that their photos will constantly improve. Plus, we help you in-person, with hands-on suggestions for improvement.

During this week of learning the basics, you explore the craft of photography with RMSP graduate turned photo educator Sarah Ehlen, who makes the process fun.  Split between classroom lectures, hands-on field shoots, and lively (but gentle) critique sessions, you learn the topics indoors in the classroom and then actively explore them through trial and error during field shoots outdoors.  We'll take you to locations such as the Moon-Randolph Homestead, the University of Montana campus, Fort Missoula, Rattlesnake Creek Recreation area and Caras Park in the heart of downtown Missoula.

As for the information taught, where to begin…

  • Manual Mode on your camera and why it’s worth it
  • How the reciprocal relationship of aperture, shutter speed and ISO really works
  • Why light is always your most important subject
  • How to shape and form your images with light
  • What composition actually is and some best practices for how you “see”
  • What a light meter is and why it’s in your camera – and different metering modes
  • White balance
  • Depth of field
  • Using a histogram
  • Constructive group critiques and one-on-one attention
  • Gaining confidence
  • Gaining confidence
  • Gaining confidence

If you’re not sure if this is the right course for you, here are a couple of blog posts for you to review. This may help you decide if this Basic course is best for you, or if Tony’s Intermediate Photography is the right choice for you:


This workshop begins Saturday at 7 p.m. and ends Friday at noon.

Tentative schedule for this workshop:

Saturday, 9/8
Evening:7 pm: Introductions and Orientation
Sunday, 9/9
Morning:Camera Basics

Exposure Basics


Evening:Field Shoot: University
Monday, 9/10


Evening:Field Shoot: Rattlesnake Wilderness
Tuesday, 9/11



Light & White Balance

Evening:Field Shoot: Moon Randolph Homestead
Wednesday, 9/12

Advanced Exposure

Evening:Field Shoot: Downtown
Thursday, 9/13
Morning:Field Shoot: Fort Missoula



Lightroom Demo

Equipment Lecture

Friday, 9/14

Final Review



Workshop Ends at Noon





Meeting Space
This workshop begins Saturday at 7 p.m. and ends Friday at noon. The workshop will be held in Room #204. To get to Room #204, enter through the double doors at the address below. Take the stairs to the second floor, turn right and the classroom will be directly in front of you. There will be signs on the door directing you to your classroom.

Rocky Mountain School of Photography
210 N Higgins Avenue
Missoula, MT 59802
(800) 394-7677 


Missoula has numerous hotels from which to choose with varying accommodations at different price ranges and locations. There are many other hotels in Missoula to choose from, however, the two hotels listed below extend a special discounted rate to Rocky Mountain School of Photography students.

Missoula Hotels

The first hotel we recommend is the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown. For more information about the Holiday Inn, click here. 

The second hotel we recommend is the Staybridge Suites Missoula. For more information information about Staybridge Suites, click here. 

Air Transportation

RMSP is not responsible for cancellations due to medical or other emergencies or reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets/hotel rooms in the event of a course cancellation. Please consider the purchase of trip/travel insurance.

The nearest airport for this workshop is Missoula International Airport.

Missoula International Airport
5225 Hwy 10 West
Missoula, MT 59808
(406) 725-4381

Transportation during the Workshop

You are responsible for your own transportation during the workshop. For transportation to and from field shoots, we suggest that you carpool to get to know fellow students.

Most major car rental companies are represented at Missoula International Airport. Please visit the airport website for more details:

Missoula’s locally-owned Dollar Rent A Car franchise offers a special discounted rate to Rocky Mountain School of Photography students. To take advantage of this rate, contact them directly at the phone number below and mention that you are an RMSP student.

Dollar Rent-A-Car
1905 W. Broadway
Missoula, MT 59802
(406) 542-2311



We want your experience at an RMSP workshop to be full of learning and fun. We recognize that preparation is one important key to success. The following is meant to be a packing aid, not a shopping list. If you have questions about what’s needed, please call Bob McGowan, our Student Services Associate, at 800-394-7677.

If you'd like to try out the best gear we recommend for this workshop, or you don't have the gear we require, check out the Basic Photography LensProToGo rental gear package we put together for you! Click here to check it out.


  • Digital SLR camera or interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera
  • Sturdy and reliable tripod
  • You’ll need at least one lens. The “kit lens” that came with your camera (most likely an 18-55mm) will be fine
  • Bring any other lenses that you own (a variety of focal lengths is always helpful
  • Laptop
  • Memory Card Reader
  • Flash drive
  • Spare batteries for equipment (especially for your camera) 
  • Extra memory card
  • Camera manual
  • Camera bag or backpack 
  • Note taking materials
  • Cable release wireless remote
  • Camera and lens cleaning supplies
  • Dedicated Flash
  • Filters (polarizer, split neutral density, neutral density)
  • Lens shades for all lenses
  • Gray card
  • Professional air blower for sensor cleaning (eg. rocket blower)
  • Camera & lens cleaning supplies
  • Ground cloth, cushion or knee pads 
  • Camera rain cover if your camera and lens are not water resistant 
Personal Items:
  • Weatherproof clothing that can be layered underneath for warmth. Please note that evenings and mornings in the northwest can be chilly – even in the middle of the summer!
  • Light to medium jacket
  • Sturdy footwear for walking on uneven ground or trails
  • Umbrella
  • Sun protection – hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm
  • Insect repellent
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks for between meals in the field
  • Travel alarm clock and wristwatch – or smartphone with an alarm 
  • Pocket sized flashlight
Tuition: $1,295
Deposit: $300
Possible Discounts:
Friend of RMSP:$50
Early Registration:$50
if registered before 6/10/2018
This course is past its starting date.


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.



What our students say...

Elizabeth Dore

Basic Photography
I am coming away from the basic photography course with a much greater understanding of my camera, and I am feeling much more confident shooting in manual mode. Doug Johnson and Sarah Ehlen were high...

Kelsey Salmela

Basic Photography
The amount of knowledge gained in this week exceeded all expectations. What an amazing opportunity!

Susan Naye

Basic Photography
This workshop seemed to work for many levels of skill. There were students who knew NOTHING about digital photography but had been issued a very sophisticated camera by their employers. There were man...

Perks of Registering For A Workshop

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.