Alumni Friday – Tonya Ballou Peterson

Since graduating from RMSP’s Summer Intensive in 2004, Tonya Ballou Peterson has been working steadily as a wedding photographer in Utah and New Mexico. When she  graduated, her intention was to pursue commercial and food photography, but after a disastrous experience with her own wedding photographer in 2005, she realized that helping brides preserve their special day was the direction her career was going to go. She has since developed a love of wedding photography and couldn’t be happier with this decision. Since then, her business has taken her around the country, photographing weddings and participating in editorial shoots.

In addition to taking photographs, she’s also been very involved in teaching beginning photography classes. Teaching has become a passion of hers and she loves helping new photographers learn the art and science behind photography. Her desire is for her students to know how to get a perfectly exposed picture right out of their camera without relying on digital post processing.

With her second child due this summer, Tonya is very excited to delve into food photography again, since she believes she’ll be around her home and kitchen a great deal in the coming months! She’s booked to shoot some wonderful weddings in 2012 and 2013 that she’s stoked about as well. I’d say she’s in for a very busy spring and summer for sure!

Another transition she’s in the process of making is switching from digital photography back to her original love of film. She misses shooting with it and feels that it’s an art form that has been dying as of late. Apparently she doesn’t like the thought of her own children not knowing what film is. Her love of the darkroom process and developing her own prints has never escaped her. She envisions the day when she can introduce her daughters to this process and see their eyes light up in amazement when a print materialize in front of them in the dark. Her overall goal is to help bring back the art of film as it has existed throughout most of the history of photography. A mighty lofty and worthwhile goal, indeed!

In her own words, “I am so grateful for my experiences at RMSP and everything I learned. I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today with out the expert instruction I received during my summer in Missoula. I am also grateful for the opportunity I have to pay it forward and help new photographers.” 

Since we cherish similar opportunities to pay it forward, she couldn’t pay us a higher compliment. We’re supremely proud to say Tonya is alumnus of our Summer Intensive course and that her dreams are being realized with a thriving career in photography. If she achieves her goals, we may be forced to dig out those enlargers and chemicals again to show the next generation how it’s done. Now, that’s something that makes us smile!

To see more of Tonya’s work, please visit her website and blog at or her Facebook page.




2 thoughts on “Alumni Friday – Tonya Ballou Peterson

Tonya Peterson

Thanks Bob! It was a pleasure!

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