2013 Career Training Assistant Sarah Van Nortwick

If you are a frequent follower of our blog, you may remember when we posted about a recent gallery show called SELF. This show was brought to you by two of our recent Career Training graduates, Sarah Van Nortwick and Wyatt McCollum. Half of that duo – the Sarah VanNortwick half – will be returning to our Career Training program in 2013 as an assistant. Sarah originally came to RMSP from her home state of Alaska in 2011 and now calls Missoula her home. Here are a few words from Sarah about her photography as well as note to our incoming class of students.

World, meet Sarah ….



As easy as it would be to say that time and money is all it takes to learn photography, I disagree. That leaves out the sheer anxiety, expectations, preparation, goals, and excitement that are involved in any kind of growth.

When I attended RMSP, I had no idea what it would be like. I’d heard stories, sure, but none of them came close to approaching what it was really like to live through Summer Intensive. It was strenuous, exhausting, exhilarating, encouraging, and downright intense. I’ve attempted for the past four years or so, before school and after, to capture moments. That’s why I photograph. That’s why we all photograph. I’ve tested my boundaries and ran into obstacles and slammed into walls.

It wasn’t until I attended RMSP that I gained confidence in my abilities. I became sure of what I can do, and how to do it well. I can now look back on the summer of my life and remember the people and the motivation that made it happen. I now have lifelong friends, admirable contacts, and skills that will carry me through the field of photography.

I’m now a junior at the University of Montana, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism. I’ve had the most amazing opportunity to work with and for a world-renowned photojournalist, Ami Vitale. She has taught me more than I knew to ask for. I feel honored that I can now call her a friend.

RMSP gave me the chance to host my very first art show at their gallery in December of 2012. My talented friend and fellow RMSP graduate, Wyatt McCollum, and I displayed our souls in a self-portrait exhibit entitled SELF. It was strange to see so many of my faces on the walls, but that’s the beauty in it as well. I was vulnerable, and it paid off immensely.

I was the youngest student in the Career Training program at age 18, so I would be happy to offer support to any young students who may be anxious about the program. I probably know your fears. My parents were very scared to send me away to a foreign place with foreign people, but the instructors, assistants, and fellow students at RMSP really formed a family around me, which fostered a healthy and encouraging atmosphere in which to learn. Plus, the variation in people of all ages was a learning opportunity in itself.

I’m thrilled that I will get to know and work with students this year during Summer Intensive. I want to see everyone succeed in building confidence in themselves and their photography, to gain even more than what I gained through the program. RMSP is a welcoming entrance to the beauty of photography, and I hope to help make the experience of learning as satiating as it can possibly be. It’s almost here!