Introduction to Professional Studio Lighting Missoula, Montana

8/4/2019 - 8/8/2019

Understanding studio lighting is one of those things that will instantly set apart any photographer from the pack. It is a professional skill that is useful in many arenas, especially nowadays when images run rampant in our culture and every business needs professional headshots, product shots, and perfectly-lit Instagram content.

However, when it comes to studio lighting, what matters the most is, well, lighting. And in this case, the gear is the means to achieve incredible light. We want to help you understand how it all works.

Allow our instructor Jeff McLain (our Professional Intensive studio lighting instructor!) make it all make sense. He’ll talk all about why this gear is so awesome, what its practical applications are, and how to use it all effectively in order to achieve the look you’re going for.

Students will have practical experience with the following:

  • How to meter artificial lighting for accurate exposures every time.
  • The applicable differences between different strobe modifiers and their primary uses.
  • How to achieve or reproduce particular lighting scenarios.
  • How to read the light in a particular image to identify how to reproduce it.
  • How to combine strobes and ambient lighting in a pleasing way.
  • How different directions of light affect the shape, texture and form of a subject.
  • How to recreate traditional portrait lighting setups.

Students should arrive at this workshop with a solid understanding of using the Manual mode on their camera, comfortability with getting photographed (we promise, it’ll be painless), and a lot of empty space in their brain. Because Jeff will fill it. With good stuff.


This workshop begins on Sunday, August 4, at 9 a.m. and ends Thursday, August 8, at noon.

Tentative schedule for this workshop:

Sunday, 8/4

9 am: Introductions and Orientation

Lecture: Intro to Light Theory

Afternoon: Lecture: Intro to Studio Equipment, Safety, Metering Light, Operating Equipment
Monday 8/5
Morning: Lecture and Demo: Simple Tabletop Product Photography

Studio: Simple Tabletop Products w/ Hot Lights and Strobe Lights

Tuesday, 8/6

Lecture and Demo: Traditional & Contemporary Studio Portraiture


Studio: Studio Headshots and Creative Portraiture

Wednesday, 8/7

Lecture and Demo: Product Photography, Metal and Glass


Studio: Shooting Metal, Glass and Propped Product Photography

Thursday, 8/8

Critique of all work

Afternoon: Workshop ends at noon.




Meeting Space

This workshop begins on Sunday, August 4, at 9 a.m. and ends Thursday, August 8, at noon. The workshop will be held in Room #204 at RMSP. 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. The hotels listed below extend a special discounted rate to Rocky Mountain School of Photography students.

Missoula Hotels

A great option for lodging is downtown Missoula's newest hotel, The Residence Inn by Marriott, in the historic Mercantile Building. It's gorgeous and just one block from RMSP! You'll receive the special RMSP rate if you use this link.

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

Another option you might consider is Staybridge Suites Missoula. For more 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 Coordinator, at 800-394-7677.


  • Digital SLR camera or interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera.
  • Sturdy and reliable tripod. Please see information and recommendations below.
  • 50mm or longer lens (85mm, 100mm, 135mm, 200mm, etc.). Macro lenses and zoom lenses that can zoom longer than 50mm are OK. Basically, longer lenses are better for both portrait work and tabletop work. 85mm and longer are ideal.
  • Memory Card Reader
  • Flash drive
  • Spare batteries for equipment (especially for your camera)
  • Extra memory card
  • Camera manual
  • Camera & lens cleaning supplies
  • Note taking materials

Highly Recommended

  • Laptop Computer
  • USB Cable to tether camera to computer in-studio (students can go to and type in their exact model of camera to see if their camera can tether to their computer).
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic OR Phase One Capture One software installed on their computer (to tether and process RAW files).

You can still participate in this class without tethering to a computer, but tethering allows you to see the image on-screen and large, rather than on the tiny screen on the back of your camera.

If you want to tether using Lightroom, you will need to first determine if your camera is compatible with tethering to Lightroom.

  1. Go to this link for a list of cameras that can be tethered to Lightroom Classic CC.
  2. If your camera is on the list, then go to Tethertools and get the cable that will work with your camera. It is recommended to not skimp on the cable purchase by finding it elsewhere, as it won't be guaranteed to work or may be inferior.

Sourcing props ahead of time will also be helpful for this class. Fun hats, scarves, and funky sunglasses will be good to have for studio portrait time. Items made of chrome or various metals, clear glass objects (stemware or figurines or vases) will also be helpful when we talk about photographing those items. We have some on-hand here, but they are not pristine, so if you want to photograph newer, cleaner items, feel free to bring them.

Tuition: $995
Deposit: $300
Possible Discounts:
Friend of RMSP:$50
Early Registration:$50
if registered before 5/6/2019


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.



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.