Rocky Mountain School of Photography » Student Highlights Fri, 22 May 2015 15:03:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Printing On Acrylic Is A Gorgeous Way To Present Your Images: Here’s A Great Resource! Wed, 15 Apr 2015 20:52:24 +0000 We have so many options for ways to present our photographs to the world. Many of us share our images via the web (email, social media sites, personal websites). Sometimes, though, we forget how wonderful it is to see our images printed and hung on the walls of our home or in homes of people we care about or for many of us in galleries and other alternative exhibition venues.

One of my favorite subjects to teach in our Career Training Program is Presentation. Having worked as a professional picture framer for a number of years as well as having had my fair share of exhibits, I am passionate about how our images ‘live’ in the world. In my class, I share with our students every option that I can think of to help get their juices going. Some of us are do it yourself craftsmen and some of us are loving the myriad of options for outsourcing the full printing and framing process. And labs are becoming more and more innovative all the time.

Two framing/printing processes that I am not equipped to do myself but am thoroughly enamored with are acrylic and metal prints. I have always loved flush mounted framing, but have had a few unfortunate accidents with bent corners with the most common form of mounting images to gator board or wood. Framing images behind acrylic is a bit more safe and what I REALLY love is the extra sense of depth the image has sitting behind a ¼” of plastic. The presentation style is clean, sexy, and modern and truly when I come across an acrylic print all I want to do is touch it! I wanted to give it a try but none of my current outsourcing labs offered this option.

Then I met Mark Alper, the owner of Big Acrylic. First of all, he has amazing customer service. He is extremely personable and is sincere when he says that he wants to make sure that you are 100% happy with his work. Big Acrylic treated me with special care and are very quick at responding to questions and their shipping is fast as well. I think it took a total of 6 business days for my piece to arrive. Their prices are very affordable (a 16×24 with 1/8” thick acrylic panel is $116. I highly recommend paying the extra $36 for ¼” thick acrylic…I chose it and it’s gorgeous!!!) The online ordering process is easy to follow. And for me, the color matching was perfect. Mark works a great deal with professional artists and is invested in helping to bring our art to life through the craftsmanship of his team. I chose to frame this image by RMSP alumni and fabulous artist, Heather Gill.


I chose it for two reasons. First I wanted to see how such a historically inspired image would look with a modern presentation method. Second, I also noticed how much black there was in the image and wanted to see how well that would come out mounted to acrylic. It came out perfectly! I have many prints on my wall, but this is the image that everyone notices when they come into my office. The modern presentation method adds rich dimension to the work as well. The fruit comes to life behind the acrylic!

Give yourselves a Welcome to Spring gift of printing one of your favorite images on acrylic. Mark is giving all of our RMSP students a 15% discount. Use the following code: mywork when you are ready to try it. But be ready to get caught by the acrylic printing bug. I know I am. And while you are at it, you might want to try his prints on metal, canvas and wood as well.

**And a special THANK YOU to the fabulous Heather Gill for providing the image for me to experiment with. It inspires me every day! And dang, I’m already putting together another order for Big Acrylic!

p.s. Lots of care went into the shipping. The framed piece is absolutely flawless!



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RMSP Graduate Profile: Ben Reed Mon, 06 Apr 2015 19:47:26 +0000

This is a post by contributing author and RMSP Career Training graduate Charlie Bulla

It’s always exciting to chat and visit with RMSP folks, whether that means staff, instructors, your classmates or other alum. So, does that make hanging out with multiple RMSP’ers in Hawaii extra special? It sure did for me!

The RMSP family is strong, and part of that family made my amazing trip to the islands possible. It all began with an invite from graduate and former teaching assistant of the Career Training Program, Ben Reed and his girlfriend and my fellow classmate Robin, who are now living on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. I was also blown away with the amazing hospitality of another fellow classmate, Jen and her husband Aaron who made an incredible visit to Maui possible for me. Many thanks to all of them for making an amazing trip extra special and for sharing the Aloha spirit!

While visiting with Ben and Robin, just out their front door, I would take daily walks along the beaches of famous surf breaks. Beaches such as Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and Pipeline. As a young kid learning to surf in North Carolina, I was always stoked to pick up magazines and dream of being right there. Now, I was there! And, I quickly realized that I was witnessing a good friend follow a dream and doing so by taking risk, utilizing an education, maximizing relationships and remaining passionate about the future. This made me think about how Ben’s story and his path could be shared with others who have an adventurous and creative path.

Ben was kind enough to spend some time with me chatting about his photographic path, his decisions, his bag of gear, and the idea of motion from an RMSP graduate’s perspective. Here is the conversation I had with Ben during my incredible trip to Hawaii:


CB: So Ben, how long has photography been a part of your life and how did it all start for you?

My story is both similar and very different from most attendees of RMSP. The road to RMSP was a bit rocky. I had attended college, graduated, and was working in the so-called “real world” selling rebar. I’ve always had the desire to create, but I felt like I was wasting away and not creating anything. Then, several unfortunate events took the lives of half a dozen friends within a two-week period. It was a wake-up call and I needed to make a change. Thus began a year-long self evaluation of what I wanted out of life. I had taken several surf trips to Nicaragua and Costa Rica and having experienced different cultures, I knew I wanted to travel more than anything. I knew there is a lot more to this world than what I was currently experiencing.


I looked into options, which included grad school, marine biology, Coast Guard and the Peace Corps. I was open to just about anything, but nothing really felt right. Photography never played a large part in my life. I didn’t have the experience of having a father or mother handing down their camera when I was a youngster and I’d never really had a desire to pick up a camera. A photographic career was not on my mind. It really boils down to one fateful night. It hit me, suddenly and abruptly. While reading my monthly issue of Surfing Magazine, I thought,

“Someone has to be taking these pictures.
If someone else is doing it, there’s no reason why I can’t be.”

Within a month, I was signed up for Career Training at RMSP. Within three months I was there. I’m pretty sure it was a shock to my parents when I informed them of my plans!

Photography truly started for me on the second day of the 2010 Summer Intensive program at RMSP. That was the first time I’d picked up a camera with true intent. People seem to be pretty baffled when I tell them this. I knew nothing. I’d never even heard of aperture, shutter speed or ISO. I didn’t know the difference between a full-frame and crop sensor. I look back now and laugh at how little I actually knew. I bought my camera five days before attending RMSP. The first pictures I took were with my mother on our cross-country drive to Montana. They were complete crap!


CB: How did you first hear about RMSP and what was your process like in deciding to attend a photography school in Montana? Quite a difference from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, right?

Reed_Ben_Reed_03525You know, I almost missed out on RMSP altogether. Seriously, it was super close to not happening. I had several criteria for what I wanted out of a photography program. I knew I wanted a program that’s focus was solely photography. I didn’t want to go back to a college and have to spend four more years in school. Nor did I have the desire to be in a class that didn’t pertain to photography skills. I was determined and focused on photography and photography only. I was looking at schools from Maine to California. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to go west of the Mississippi, to experience a part of the country I hadn’t spent much time in.

Originally, the winner was The Brooks Institute in California. I had reservations about Brooks though. With Brooks, you took classes three times a week. To me I didn’t feel like that was enough. I wanted to immerse myself in photography, and to me that wasn’t immersion. But, at the time, it was the only real option that I could find. Then, a friend of a friend, Perri Shelat told me about her experience and RMSP. She told me to give them a call before I fully committed to The Brooks Institute. What she didn’t know was that I was already a registered student at The Brooks Institute. Perri had so many good things to say about RMSP. She promised it would change my life. To me that’s a pretty strong statement. I felt like it was deserving of at least a call.

After doing a little research on RMSP and looking at the website, I realized that it offered the same content I was looking for as Brooks, and RMSP solved all my issues I had with Brooks. So, I figured, what the hell, I should give them a call. Within minutes of talking to Bob McGowan, I knew RMSP was where I was going. There wasn’t a school that could compare to the friendliness and knowledge that I received from Bob. I remember it like it was yesterday. After that phone call, I knew I was going to RMSP and I had a gut feeling, it was going to be something special.


CB: After finishing up as a student of RMSP, you returned to become a teaching assistant. Can you share a bit on your experience as an assistant and how it’s helped with your path?

Reed_Ben_Reed_04727-EditHaha, yes, that’s correct. As a student, I actually told my peers and instructors in my final presentation that I was coming back as a teaching assistant the following year. It got quite a few laughs. At that time, it was wishful thinking and more of a joke. However, before I left Missoula, I made sure I went to visit with every faculty member at RMSP and let them know that if there was any chance of coming back as an assistant that I really wanted the opportunity. For me, it really felt like the next step in achieving my goals. It was a long shot. I lobbied the hell out of myself for that spot!

Becoming an assistant helped me in so many different ways. It’s almost like attending RMSP for two more years, but better in some ways. I met so many wonderful people and some of my best friends while assisting. I take yearly trips with Jimmy White and Dan Doran, both RMSP graduates and fellow assistants. I still do a lot of work with fellow assistants, and assisting at RMSP is 100% the reason I am where I am today.

I knew my stuff coming into the assistant position, but I still questioned my abilities. It helped solidify everything I learned as a student. I was receiving the information again and this time I had a foundation to build on. Coming back as an assistant really made me believe that I knew more than what I gave myself credit for. It was a huge building block and confidence builder.

It also allowed me to build relationships with individuals in the photo industry outside of RMSP. This was absolutely vital to my success. Connections are everything in this world. I asked the pros as many questions as possible. I made it my mission to find out how the pros became successful. Every pro told me that they shared their goals with others. It’s so important to openly share what you want out of life and your career. It’s all about how your connections can help you achieve your goal. You can’t expect others to help you in your journey if others don’t know what you’re after. That sounds a bit self-centered and selfish, but it’s true. I ease my conscience by trying to help others as much as possible. Looking at it this way really helps me to justify asking others for help. It’s full circle and you have to keep it turning. I really do owe my surf photography career to assisting at RMSP. I was assisting RMSP graduate, Mike Tittel during the Adventure Photography Pro Studies course when he asked me what I wanted to do after I left RMSP. Little did I know, his question and my answer would change my life. I was open with Mike about wanting to be a surf photographer. He introduced me to his good friend Michael Clark who was teaching a surf photography workshop with Brian Bielmann. Michael told me I needed to attend this workshop and that it could possibly lead to a job working with Brian.

It was the break I needed!


CB: Now you’re living on the north shore of Oahu! Can you share a bit about your decision on moving to Hawaii and your relationship with Brian and the doors that are opening because of your move?

You know, things came so close to not working out that it’s not even funny. I met Brian through the surf photography workshop he and Michael Clark held in February 2013. We hit it off the first day during introductions, when we realized we grew up in the same geographic location. After that, I drifted a bit from the group and Brian. I really had the desire to create images that were a little bit different from the rest of the group. At one point during the workshop, I remember Michael Clark encouraging me to spend more time getting to know Brian. I wasn’t spending enough time building that relationship. It wasn’t until the last night of the workshop that I actually went up to Brian and asked if I could work for him. I remember him chuckling and saying “Sure, why not?” We had a brief conversation about me moving out to Hawaii in October of 2013. That was the extent of the conversation. That was it. I started looking for rentals on the North Shore later that summer. It quickly became apparent that it was ridiculously expensive and there were very few places to rent. I had reached out to Brian multiple times and hadn’t received a response. A couple months went by and still no response. I was getting a bit worried. The winter season was approaching fast and I hadn’t found a place to live or even knew if Brian was serious about me working for him. I had to make a decision soon.

Brian Bielmann is considered one of the greatest surf photographers of all time. At the time he was senior staff photographer for Transworld Surf Magazine and was a staff photographer for Volcom. The surf industry is all about who you know and it can make you or break you. This guy knows everybody. He’s been a surf photographer for 40 years. Very few surf photographers, if any, can claim that. So, I knew I had to go.

Without any response from Brian, I signed a 6-month lease on the North Shore. Within hours of signing that lease and faxing it to the landlord, Transworld Surf announced they were closing their doors effective immediately.

Panic set in.

How am I going to survive in Hawaii if Brian doesn’t have a job and there’s nothing for me do? I remember thinking at that point that it was over and Hawaii wasn’t going to happen. That afternoon I sent Brian an urgent message asking what to do. He finally responded with a short but deliberate note, “Need you now more than ever.” I still had my doubts, but I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass. I’m glad I decided to go. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Brian is one of the most humble and kind human beings out there. Not only has he been a great mentor but he’s become a great friend. I feel incredibly honored and lucky to be in the position I find myself in.

As for doors being opened, I credit a lot of my success to Brian. He has relentlessly advocated for me and my work. Since moving to Hawaii, I’ve worked with him on most of his jobs and on many occasions he’s split his check down the middle with me. What photographer does that? It’s amazing. Jobs that he hasn’t been able to do for various reasons, he’s made sure I got them. I think he advocates more for me than he does himself. As a budding photographer it’s essential to have someone like Brian. I’ve gained so much so quickly because of him. It’s unbelievable. I’ve accomplished a lot in under two years because of my connection with him. I’m eternally thankful for all the opportunity he’s given me. It wasn’t that long ago, I would’ve never been able to imagine my life the way it is now. There was little back then I was excited about and I never imagined I’d be living on the North Shore of Oahu. We recently attended a private Volcom party and I was pinching myself. I was always a Volcom fan. As a kid, I worked in a surf shop and I’d always try to push their clothing on unsuspecting mothers. I never imagined years later I would be invited to a small private function attended by all the top guys at Volcom. It was an honor and I think that’s when it started to sink in. I’m actually making this whole thing happen!


CB: It’s pretty obvious hanging around you nowadays that your focus has switched to motion. What’s the mindset you have for your motion work and have there been certain factors that led you to video?

Reed_Ben_Reed_09095I think for me, one of the important things in life is being able to recognize opportunity when it arises and being able to make adjustments to take advantage of those opportunities. It sounds like such an easy concept, but I think most people struggle with this. Not being afraid to change is essential. Producing photographic work with Brian is an unbelievable experience and in the long run I’d eventually have to break away and focus on my own work.

We travel together and it’s really not a great business model to have two photographers shooting the same subject at the same time. We work so well together that I felt it would be advantageous for both of us to figure out a way to continue the relationship. There had to be an option that would allow me to continue working with Brian and still be successful in the surf industry. Shortly after coming to this realization, I was slapped in the face with an opportunity. It was one of those situations of being in the right place at the right time.

Brian and I were shooting stills for a film John John Florence was working on. Hurley had hired a production company from outside the surf industry to produce the film. There were some issues with the production; the hired company didn’t understand surfing, and it hit me that there was a need for a high-end production company that understands surfing. There are definitely other cinematographers out there doing amazing work and I feel like I can bring something else to the table. I know with bringing Brian on board for large projects we will have a one-two punch that nobody will be able to offer. I think Brian is so unique and my desire to succeed and produce something different will help set us apart.


CB: I see the new gear. Can you tell us about the setup you’re using today and what cool stuff it enables you to do?

Ahh, yes. I invested in a RED Dragon made by Red Digital Cinema. This camera is pretty damn incredible. It has a dynamic range of 16 or 18 stops and can actually shoot video in HDR, giving even more dynamic range. It’s also the first digital video camera that shoots in 6k. I can actually pull still frames from the video that are print quality. There are many magazine covers out there shot with a RED that had a still frame pulled to be included in print. It’s been used for a plethora of major motion pictures including but not limited to The Hunger Games, House of Cards, Jurassic World, Chappie, Marvel Avengers, Star Trek Into Darkness — you get the idea. It’s a very powerful tool and we’re very excited about the future. I can easily go from shooting an interview on location, to shooting surf from the beach, to shooting underwater in my CMT waterhousing. It’s impressive. It’s opening a whole new world of possibilities. Now I just have to learn how to use it! Hahaha.


CB: What’s next for Ben Reed? Any new projects or big plans on the horizon?

Haha, that’s such as loaded question. Immediately speaking, I just signed a deal with ISA (International Surfing Association) to shoot their contests for 2015. I’m so pumped because they’re sending Brian and I to Mexico, Nicaragua, California, the Canary Islands, China and Chile.

The entire reason for leaving the 9-5 job was to travel more and it’s really cool that’s starting to happen.



I can’t wait to see what other doors this opens as well. That’s huge in itself. I’m also planning on traveling to Teahupo’o in mid-summer to film surfing and underwater scenes. The water there is incredibly clear. It should be an amazing experience. I’d have to say that I’m most excited about starting our production company. I have a lot of ideas, projects and collaborations that I’d like to shoot. I definitely want to spend some time documenting stories that need to be told. I have a strong desire to share stories with others and I feel like motion gives me more opportunity to tell those stories. I definitely want to start submitting to film festivals, but that’s a couple years off. I’m still learning Adobe Premiere and how to properly use the RED. Ultimately, I want to produce work that’s important to me and hopefully strikes an emotional connection with others. I’d like our work to help motivate people to change their lives if that’s what they wish to do.

I definitely have a vision of where I want to be in the future, but I’m also keeping it really open. I don’t want to be so focused on one thing that I miss an opportunity somewhere else. Again, I think it’s important to be flexible and not be afraid to change. So, who knows what the future holds. I’m just excited about everything. I’m so thankful for what I’ve already been able to accomplish and excited about all the potential of the future.


CB: While spending time around Ben and Brian during my visit in Hawaii, the strength of their relationship stood out. When I asked Brian to share his thoughts about Ben, he had a few things to say …. 

“I’ve got to say one thing about Ben. He is the smartest, coolest, and the most honest guy I have ever had the pleasure to work with and be friends with. That’s more than one, I guess. The point is, I have never wanted to help anyone or see someone succeed as much as I do Ben. He came to Hawaii a couple years ago to assist me and has been the most helpful person in my whole photography career. I don’t think of Ben as an assistant anymore. He is a partner now and some of the stuff we have accomplished because of that partnership has been some of the coolest stuff of my career. Thank you, Ben. Sounds like a man crush, huh? Well, Ben is like Sam from Lord of the Rings. Frodo could not have done it without Sam. Ben is my Sam…”


Thanks for sharing the update with us, Ben.

Keep going after it!

And thank you so much Charlie for helping to share Ben’s story.


You can view a few of Ben’s images in the gallery below or in his portfolio at and on Instagram at @benreedphoto.
Click the image below to check out his video reel on Vimeo.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.03.35 PM

Reed_Ben_Reed_78292 Reed_Ben_Reed_73320 Reed_Ben_Reed_63576 Reed_Ben_Reed_61775 Reed_Ben_Reed_60424 Reed_Ben_Reed_57008 Reed_Ben_Reed_46616-Edit-Edit Reed_Ben_Reed_42126 Reed_Ben_Reed_40444 Reed_Ben_Reed_37830 Reed_Ben_Reed_37393-Edit Reed_Ben_Reed_09095
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Montana High School Photo Contest Winners Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:00:52 +0000 BencheckIvy-1043-WinnerIsOn November 25 we launched our 2014 Montana High School Photo Contest, and today we are tickled to be able to announce the winners.

While we typically don’t host contests, after meeting and visiting with hundreds (thousands?) of Montana high school students at a series of career fairs we attended in September, we knew we had to do something. Many of the students we spoke with knew of RMSP, and it was obvious they had a yearning for photography. Witnessing a student from across the room lock eyes with our booth and come running over to introduce themselves left us inspired and wanting to stay in touch with them.

Over the course of the three weeks the contest was “live,” we received submissions from every pocket of Montana. Helena, MT had an incredible showing thanks to the generosity of Helena Capital High School Photo Instructor Scott Andrews. Mr. Andrews told all of his students to submit, and did they ever! Images also came in from Glasgow, Missoula, Kalispell, Troy, and so many more Montana towns, we can’t list them all. Suffice it to say, we are humbled and inspired by the turn out.

Thanks to our educational partners BH Photo Video and PDN Magazine, we were able to offer up some great prizes including magazine subscriptions and $25 gift cards as well as a host of great items from us too.

So, I guess you probably want to see some images, don’t you? Visit our Montana High School Photo Contest page to see the 5 winning photos.


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A Tale of a Stolen Photo Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:06:13 +0000 written by Beau Johnston.

I made a conscious decision, when I started writing and photography, that if I wanted to make a name for myself I would need to have an online presence. Websites, blogs, and social media are great tools for getting your work out and in front of the masses. By leveraging these tools, I have acknowledged the risk of having my photography used, without my permission, in everything from personal blogs to advertising.

I have tried (nearly) everything I can think of to prevent individuals from stealing my work. I have used right-click protection, small jpegs, and watermarks to try and limit the use of my images with marginal results. I have found that if an individual really wants to use your image, they will find a way. My final line of defense is to search for my work with Google™. I run Google Chrome on my computer and installed the ‘Search by Image’ {hyperlink:} extension for the browser. This allows me to right click on any image and search for other instances where the image is used on the internet, all by selecting the ‘Search Google with this image’ in the pop-out window.

My original image

Beau Johnston

The cropped image from the website

Coppied Image

During the week of March 31st I spent a couple of my lunch hours browsing the internet for my photos (I know that sounds a bit vain). In doing so, I came across nine instances where my images were being used without my permission. In all but one instance, the images had been cropped to remove my watermark, with the most notable use being that of real estate company. Not only had the company used my image without licensing agreements in place, but they had cropped the image to remove all recognition of the photographer that took it – Me!

How I Handle These Situations

In an effort to document the copyright infringement, and before I ever contact the violator, I exported the webpage as a pdf file. If things were to ever escalate, and lawyers were to become involved, I want to have evidence of their violation. This is not the first time I have confronted someone about using my images without my permission, but it was the first retail business was promoting their products with one. I felt it was best to document everything, just in case.

My Email to the Company

After exporting their webpage as a pdf, I drafted an email to the company explaining that I discovered their use of my photo without my permission. I find that when I come across as ‘confused’ about whether they have a license to use the image, and not immediately confrontational, I seem to get a better response.

From: Beau Johnston

Sent: Friday, April 4, 2014 11:10 AM


Subject: Image Use


Good morning ____,

After a recent image search, I discovered one of my photographs may be being used on your website without a license agreement in place. The page is question is for the Copper Basin Subdivision, found here: http://www.________/ copper_basin_subdivision/

The photograph in question can be found here: http://www. ________/Documents%20and%20Settings/Copper-Basin-Idaho-Homes.jpg

Can you verify if a license agreement is in place? I do not have record of paying to license the image.


Thank you for your time.

Beau Johnston

The ‘Optional’ Next Step

If I do not get a response from the violator, within a few days, I will follow up by reporting the copyright infringement to Google. Google’s online Report alleged copyright infringement form {hyperlink:} asks you for your contact information, to describe where the copyrighted work can be found, and where the alleged copyright infringement is located. In this case I would explain how the company had used my image without permission and provided an example of where the photo was located on my travel blog.

The Company’s Reply

I heard back from the company, a few days later, with a reply that they were looking into the situation and would get back to me. The owner eventually replied saying he did not believe they had paid to license the image but he has “others help develop his site and they might have licensed the image, not that that matters.” I know, and he probably knows, this image was never licensed for use on his website and that is why I was not surprised when he asked for information on how much I charge. After exchanging a few emails, and some phone call conversations, we came to an agreement to license the image for use on his real estate website.

Lessons I Learned

I learned a lot in talking with the real estate company about their copyright infringement; most notably was to reaffirm the old adage “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” While many of my friends told me to immediately send them an invoice and demand the image be taken down, when they heard of the copyright infringement, I decided to take a different approach. I ultimately believe I came out ahead by taking the approach I did. I believe the ‘stern’ approach would have resulted in my image being removed, but I do not believe it would have resulted in me being paid. By being willing to work with the company, and being pleasant during discussions, I was able to establish a licensing agreement for the website use. We, ultimately, want to get paid and have our images on display so why not start off on a good foot with the people/companies stealing our work. Escalate to being stern, if you do not get anywhere by nice, and let them know you are filing a complaint with Google.

Thank you to Beau Johnston for this very informative and insightful blog post. Here’s his bio and website for you to check out.

My wife (Krista) and I are the managing editors for Toyota Cruisers and Truck Magazine’s “Outdoor Lifestyle” and “Overland” sections.  We are sponsored by AJIK Overland Exchange, TreadWright Tires, and members of DeLorme’s Ambassador Team.  You can read more of our travels, and pick up a few gourmet camp cooking recipes, at our blog  My recent honors include taking first place in the Recreation category at the 2013 Wild West Photo Fest, second place in the wildlife category at the 2013 Picture Wild Montana photo contest, and second place at the 2014 Platte River Photography Show. 

 My personal photography project can be found at

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Michelle Gustafson’s Eddie Adams Experience Tue, 11 Nov 2014 17:12:17 +0000 We absolutely love hearing from our graduates after they leave the confines of our classrooms. Whether making a big splash in their industry, or simply continuing to do what they love for themselves alone, we love knowing what they (you!) are up to. To us, the reward is simply knowing that they built their education in our halls and now have the ability to apply it however they want in their own lives. The following is a guest post written by 2011 Career Training Graduate Michelle Gustafson. Michelle recently completed the prestigious, intense, and oh-so-admired Eddie Adams Workshop, held in Jeffersonville, NY. Here is what she had to say about her experience …


Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 presetTo say that being accepted to the Eddie Adams Workshop was a dream come true is a real understatement. Anyone who has had a goal that was years in the making come to fruition knows what I’m talking about. It’s been close to a month since the workshop ended and I’m still buzzing that this actually happened to me. For those of you who don’t know what this workshop is, it was started by the legendary Pulitzer-Prize winning photojournalist Eddie Adams (Google his name and you are almost guaranteed to see his searing photograph of an execution during the Vietnam War) in 1989 at his family farm in Jeffersonville, New York. This tuition-free workshop takes places over Columbus Day weekend for four days (for which you sleep approximately 10 hours…more on that later). Every year thousands of portfolios from students and professionals alike from around the world are submitted for review and only 100 are accepted. Once there, everyone is divided into ten teams with their own colors (my team was Turquoise), each with a team leader, editor and producer as well as a digital tech. For example, my producer was Lisa Krantz, photojournalist for the San Antonio Express, and team editor was the senior photo editor of the New Yorker, Genevieve Fussell. Turquoise Team digital tech was the Managing Editor of Major Events for Getty Images, Mike Heiman. Rounding out the team was our leader, Gregory Heisler, a well respected portrait photographer who was an assistant to Arnold Newman and is now a faculty member at Syracuse University. Other photographers, editors and featured speakers there included James Nachtway, John White, Barbara Davidson, Marco Grob, Eugene Richards, Phil Toledano, just to name a few. And not to mention Nick Ut (who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his photograph entitled “Terror of War” which is also a symbolic photo from the Vietnam War) who was just hanging out at the barn. Editors from the New York Times, The Denver Post, LA Times, CNN, MSNBC, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Education WeekNational Geographic, PDN, along with a slew of freelance photographers and consultants, and the list goes on and on. In short, these titans of industry and vision are the people who can not only inspire you, but hire you. Not to mention the other 99 incredibly special and bursting-with-talent students there who were just as invaluable to meet as any photo editor.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 presetTo recap this weekend would take more than what this blog post (or Andy Kemmis) will allow me to fit, so I will try to be concise. Time was divided into presentations, team meetings, and working on our individual assignment. Each team was given a theme (ours was Family), and then each person was given an assignment along the lines of that theme (mine was covering a single father of six children in nearby Liberty, NY). We were given about a half of a day to shoot our assignments, bring our work back to be loaded up by the digital tech, then looked over by the team leader, editor and producer. The next morning we individually met with all three to discuss how we shot it and what we could do to improve. We were then given the rest of the day to reshoot the assignment. From there, the best shots were put together in a slideshow, culminating in a final presentation on the last night. Prizes were also awarded to 10 out of 100 students (including, humbly, yours truly) for their work. And I aint talkin’ about your grandma’s door prizes. I’m talking about magazine assignments, internships (PAID!) at major newspapers, Nikon gear (I calculated close to $10,000 worth), and prize money.

Oh, the whole sleep thing. I exaggerate not, I believe I got 30 minutes the first night, and maybe upwards of about 2 1/2 hours thereafter. I’d love to say it was just the adrenaline, but it was also because of the final piece of this workshop; The 11:30 Club. These late night portfolio review sessions offered a chance to talk face-to-face with the aforementioned giants of our industry, and for them to rip apart your work. And rip apart they did! Going into this workshop, I wanted to feel like the dumbest person in the room. Why? Because my work wouldn’t thrive on the constant stream of compliments. I needed people to make me feel like I just got hit upside the head with a skillet seeing stars. These people have been doing it longer, have seen it all, and have VERY high standards for what constitutes not only a great photograph, but a great body of work. I was at this workshop to learn, period. I had access to the best of the best to tell me what to do better, something most people spend many years and lots of money on, or never get. These reviews would go long into the night, usually until 3 a.m.

I left this workshop feeling both absolutely wrecked physically and totally renewed spiritually. I received incredible guidance and advice, contacts, experiences, and that knot in my stomach that says, “baby, you just won the lottery, so spend that money wisely.” Ask me in a month or maybe a year from now what I thought of this workshop, and I’m sure I’ll still be unpacking something new. It was that much of a transformative experience.

My advice (since you didn’t ask) for anyone interested in attending is that you take advantage of all the chances you have to submit (I believe 3 as a student, and 3 as a professional). So submit all 6 times. And don’t submit just any old thing. I was rejected the first time and it was the right choice. I didn’t really think about what I was submitting and it was a random portfolio of unrelated images. More importantly, I didn’t really ask anyone for their take. Second time around, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice, and just like the old saying goes, “it takes a village.” I found a project that I really invested my heart into for a year, found editors who I respected and had it reviewed multiple times, took lots of advice, reshot, carefully edited, and then submitted. This time when I was accepted, I felt I had given them work that had truly changed me. And if you want to do this workshop, that’s what you want to show; that you give a damn. That you believe in good visual storytelling and that you have something to say. I hope more and more people continue to apply to this workshop so as to raise the level of talent, and then show the world what they’ve got!

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So You Want To Be A Photographer? Then Be An Assistant First. Fri, 16 May 2014 17:23:37 +0000 albertaspruce-6I think the best way to learn what you need to know to be an editorial or commercial photographer is by assisting for one. Or better yet, 50. There are so many moving parts and details to a photo shoot it is hard to imagine running one until you have worked on one. Or 50. Or better yet, 500.

Here’s what you might do on a shoot:

-consult on gear

-rig lights

-shoot tests

-be a second set of eyes for the photographer

-fly to great locations

-meet interesting people

Here’s what you will do on a shoot:

-steam clothes

-order lunch

-make a coffee run

-sweep the floor

-take out the trash

The point is that these are all things that go into a successful photo shoot, and if you think that any of these tasks are below you, then you will not be a good assistant. If you do the little things no one notices without asking or complaining, the photographer will notice.

So how do you start? It’s really quite simple.ItalianShore-3

Make a list of photographers whose work you like. Look in local magazines, check out the website for your local ASMP chapter, use Photoserv, Google local photographers. It doesn’t really matter if they are in the niche you want to work in, what matters is that you like their work. If you think they make great pictures, you can learn something from them.

Once you have your list , send them a concise email introducing yourself, a bit about your background, and why you want to work with them. Let the photographer know that you know their work. Compliment a specific shot or project. Flaterry can definitely get you in the door. Lastly, mention you would like to give them a call, or meet up for a cup of coffee to introduce yourself.

One of the most difficult things to do if you have never assisted is to get that first job. It can be intimidating to call photographers asking them to hire you even though you have no experience, but you have to do it. Think of it as practice for working as a photographer and trying to get new clients. You will never get work if you don’t make the first move. Photographers are surprisingly nice folks in general and they know what you are going through, they have probably done it themselves.

Once you have talked to them, ask them if it is okay to call again in about a month. Almost everyone will say yes. Then, and this is the most important thing, call them again in a month. And then every month after that. I kept a spreadsheet with photographers name, phone number, email address, website, and the last time I spoke to them.

So you got a job? Now the learning really begins.

Good for you. All that calling and emailing paid off. Now here comes the most important part.

Be attentive. Be efficient. Pay attention.

Your job is to make sure this all works out. Listen closely. Watch what everyone else is doing. If you don’t know how something works, ask. Better to look green than to break something. If you have finished your task, ask what else needs to be done (remember the thing about taking out the trash?). If you have questions about why something was done, wait until there is down time. Be indespensible, but not intrusive. Don’t give your opinion until it is asked for.

You will make mistakes. Take responsibility for them, apologize for them, and learn from it.

WallaWallaFair-4So now what? Keep learning.

The more you know the more you will work. Learn to use as many types of lighting as possible (strobe and continuous). Learn to use as many types of cameras as possible (still and video). Learn as much about video as possible (almost everyone is doing it these days). Learn as many software programs as possible (digital techs make more money than assistants). Keep making phone calls. Every one of these things will be important skills for you as a photographer as well as an assistant.

And here is the most important thing: Keep taking pictures. Once you start making a living as an assistant it is very easy to forget that your goal is to make a living as a photographer. A lot of photographers assist for a lot longer than they planned (myself included).

Do personal projects. Do fine art projects. Meet up with stylist assistants and models and do test shoots. A lot of time photographers will let you use their studio and lighting for tests after you have worked for them a few times. Carry a camera around with you and take pictures of things that interest you. Keep reading PDN (that’s where I found my first job). Keep learning new skills. Go to ASMP meetings. Go to ASMP assistant meet-ups. Keep trying.

Assisting is really like an apprenticeship. You get a chance to learn on the job. You get to see what works for a photographer, or just as important, what doesn’t work. And best of all you get paid to learn.


William Rugen is a graduate of 2005 Summer Intensive. He currently works as a photographer, producer and assistant for Motofish Images ( in Seattle, WA. He also works as a fine art photographer and has sold and exhibited his work nationally and internationally (

Additional work by William Rugen:

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Copyright: To Register or Not To Register? Wed, 26 Feb 2014 00:40:44 +0000 Photographers create intellectual property on a daily basis. For some it is done purely for enjoyment and for others it is the means by which we feed our families. Wherever you fall on the creative spectrum, you are the owner of the images you create and you have the exclusive right to decide how those images are used and where they can be displayed and who can display them. That is the basis of copyright law in the United States. This is the same whether we create our images with an iPhone, point-and-shoot, or digital SLR camera.

Although our images are protected by copyright the moment they are created, that may not be enough to protect us if we come across unauthorized uses of our images. If we find one of our images being used without our permission and we did not register the image with the Copyright Office then we would be only entitled to actual damages which may equate to the normal fee we would charge to license that image under the same circumstances. If our image was registered in a timely manner, then we would be entitled to a maximum of $150,000 per use if the use was willful and a court could award court fees and legal costs as well.


The act of registering our images puts a lot of weight on our side when an image is infringed. Without registration a lawyer would most likely not take the case and a court would not allow an infringement case to he heard. Very often the first question an attorney for the infringer asks is whether or not the image is registered and based on the answer, they will decide how they should proceed.

As the creator of an infringed image we need to assess the unauthorized use as well as our feelings about how to proceed. Some photographers would be flattered to see that someone liked their image enough to put it in a magazine or use it on a website, and rather than be bothered by the use, they would buy multiple copies of the magazine to hand out to friends and families or point people to the website. Others may be satisfied with payment of their normal licensing fees while still others may push harder and seek damages for the unauthorized use.

I take a hard stand when it comes to copyright violation. I don’t feel a normal licensing fee is adequate enough to make a point and move towards decreasing future infringing. Imagine if the punishment for shoplifting was only to pay the store owner for what was stolen. The incentive for thieves to give it a try would be too high since there would be no downside for them if they got caught. Shoplifting would run rampant.

Normal theft is more easily understood by people when compared to intellectual property theft. If someone steals my car, I no longer have a car. If someone infringes one of my images I still have the image and it is easily but wrongly misunderstood to be a victimless act. What is not understood is the effect the unauthorized use has on licensing of that image.

Although most people are probably aware that stealing music or movies is wrong, it seems that many people feel that images on the internet are free for the taking. It is so easy to right-click and copy an image. How can something so easy be so wrong? Very often I read or hear people reasoning that if you don’t want your images stolen then don’t post them on the internet. That argument makes as much sense as telling someone that if they don’t want their car stolen don’t park it on a public street. The internet is how most photographers showcase their work and get exposure, and without the ability to post our images we would have a difficult time making a living.

Registering your images can be a painless but somewhat quirky process. Setting up a workflow and a schedule is the best way to assure your are protected. You can register many unpublished images at one time for a $35 fee. Published images are treated differently where groups of published images can only be registered together if they were created in the same year by the same photographer. There is a three month window after publication of an image where you can register the image and have it considered registered as of the date of publication. Because of this I set up my schedule so I register all of my unpublished and published images taken in the prior three months assuring that all my images are properly protected.

Considering the time, cost and effort we put into making our images it is our right to be adequately compensated for those images. An unauthorized use of our images cuts into our ability to be properly compensated. Some of the most lucrative licensing situations are exclusive and first-use licenses and our ability to license our images as such may be compromised after they are infringed.

Images that are timely registered before an infringement occurs allow the photographer the opportunity to file for statutory damages and attorney fees. Without a valid registration the photographer would have to prove actual damages which can not only be difficult, but it is usually not enough money to make the cost of retaining an attorney and filing a case in federal court worthwhile. Many infringers realize this and they won’t give you the time of day without a registration certificate in your hand.

If an infringed image is properly registered it is up to the copyright owner to decide if they want to pursue actual or statutory damages. For a willful infringement the maximum the court can award is $150,000 per use as well as court costs and attorney fees. If the use was not found to be willful, the high end of statutory damages is $30,000 per use. Willful does not necessarily mean intentional. As an example: if your image has your identifying copyright information on the image, any unauthorized use would be considered willful. An image taken from a website with copyright notices placed on each page would also be considered a willful act.


Not long ago I found one of my images on a Facebook page. The image was posted about a year prior to when I found it but in that time the image had gained almost 700,000 likes and 37,000 shares. I could not in good conscience license that image, or any image in a similar situation, as an exclusive or first time license. The people who had used that image without my permission had stripped me of my ability to license my image in a way that I chose. I have no idea where that image might show up and if someone paid for an exclusive license I am pretty sure they would not be happy if they found it before I did.

Most of my infringement experiences come from people who find one of my images online and either right-click and save or do a screenshot of the image and use it on their website or Facebook/Pinterest page. At any given time I can find thousands of uses of my images. While it is annoying, there is a little I can do unless I want to devote most of my waking hours to send letters to the offenders and take-down notices to internet service providers. Where I draw the line is when my image is used on a commercial site or used in some way that I find objectionable.

I have been told by portrait photographers that they don’t feel the need to register their images since they feel their images would be unlikely targets. If you have heard about the photographer who populated his wedding photography website with images from other much better wedding photographers to make him look much better than he actually was, then you can see how just about any image could be infringed. And don’t be fooled into thinking that your website protects your image from being copied. I haven’t seen a site yet that can prevent all forms of copying.

What about that client that you enter into a licensing agreement with who ends up using the image in a manner outside the confines of your agreements with them? Usually it is a misunderstanding and is easily cleared up. But what if they care less about your objections and continue using it despite your continued demands to stop? If the image wasn’t registered you wouldn’t have a lot of power on your side. Luckily, that is something that doesn’t happen often, but it is a situation where a little bit of time and effort to protect yourself for the “what if’s” becomes valuable.

In one instance I was at the end of keywording 700 of my Hawaii images when I came across an image of the Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki. I realized that I forgot how to spell his name so I did a quick Google search and the very first listing that came up … on another person’s website … was the actual image I was trying to keyword!


Something as simple as Googling your own name can bring up instance of images that are used without your permission. At a moment where I had a few spare minutes, I Googled my name to find only one of my images that had some text added to it. I thought the image looked pretty good with the additions, but it was still my image and it was used to promote a museum in Hawaii. You can see in this example that they credited me as the photographer, but that does not change the fact that this is copyright infringement. As I looked further I found that they had used a total of eight images from my Flickr page over a period of several months. Since these images were properly registered, the maximum amount a court could award was $1.2 million plus court costs and my attorney fees. If that isn’t enough incentive for them to come to the table and talk about settling I don’t know what is.

SharickScott_daughtersI am sure most people have seen those emails that show the best bridges, animal images, vacation spots, etc. One of my images showed up on the best infinity pools list and I found it used in hundreds of places around the internet. Islands Magazine, with a circulation of about a half million customers, put the best infinity pool images on their website. An email outlining the infringement was sent to them and soon I received a call from the editor telling me how much he liked my work and that he would like to use me as a freelancer for their magazine. While that may be a nice sentiment and it may or may not lead to good things in the future, I don’t feel it was the way to settle the infringement of my intellectual property. With no further negotiation a check was sent to me a couple days later.


Many years ago I made an image of a dog on a beach in Hawaii. A couple years later I ran across the same dog and his owner on another beach. I had a copy of the image on my phone so I offered to email it to the guy. At the time I figured there was no harm. Fast forward two more years and I am getting frantic messages and emails from the guy. He had entered my image into a contest and it made it to the finals. He needed a high res image by that night to send to the magazine. This was one of those rights-grabs contests from a major dog magazine where by entering you AGREE that the image is yours and you actually give up the copyright of the image to the magazine. Needless to say I was less than happy, but it was a good thing I able to stop the mess before the image got printed in the magazine.


In the end it is the photographer that has to choose how to treat their images once they are infringed. In the age of fast moving information on the internet it is better to assume that our images will be infringed at some point rather than hope they won’t be. There is no way to tell which of our images may interest someone and how they may come to find our images. It is better to protect them today so that we can decide later how to react once they are infringed whether that is next month or in ten years rather than wish we had.




SharickScott_HeadShotScott currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii where he likes to make the most of his time hiking and searching for interesting locations to photograph. There is no greater pleasure than when he finds a road that he has never been on only to wonder what adventures are to be found around the next corner or over the next hill. When he is not in Hawaii one of his favorite areas to photograph is the southwestern United States where the expansive desert scenery stands in stark contrast to the tropical green of the Hawaiian Islands. He is a graduate of the 2010 class of Summer Intensive and Advanced Intensive.
You can see Scott’s images at and you can email him at 


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Guest Post – My Journey From RMSP Student to Professional Wedding Photographer Fri, 14 Feb 2014 16:30:44 +0000 Jennifer_Mooney_Photo_weddings_00010After investing years of time, money, patience and dedication, you begin to see the reward of hard work – and reward is an understatement. I’ve dreamed of becoming a wedding photographer. It’s what I love. Funny thing is, I didn’t know it was wedding photography until I attended Summer Intensive. RMSP has this strong creative community, between the teachers, assistants, and owners who not only taught me the most quality proficiency in photography, but took me in like family.  They wanted to learn about me – to make me into the artist I am. It helped me discover myself in ways I hadn’t been able to before. Luckily I had a family wedding during the immersed summer of 2010 and decided to take my camera along just for fun since I was already learning so much in school at the time. What I felt was PASSION. MY passion. I love weddings. I love love. I love photography. BINGO.  Remembering that feeling over and over transformed my passion into my business. And receiving continual inspiration from my classmates who experienced the same explosion of creativity.

Jennifer_Mooney_Photo_weddings_00009I went on to take the Wedding Photography course, and the Advanced Intensive course in the same summer. All three courses were hands-down worth the investment. I was able to have this foundation and structure of understanding the most professional aspect of photography – first technical, then wedding specific training, and then the business side. 

Jennifer_Mooney_Photo_weddings_00005So, what did I do? I graduated, and immediately ordered my first business cards featuring my portfolio I built in school, launched my website, then started advertising like you wouldn’t believe. And then, nothing. Literally, seven months went by and not one wedding. So I realized okay, I want to do weddings this summer, period.  I then did one of the most disgraceful things to the wedding industry, I booked three weddings for $500 a piece, digital files included. It felt shameful, but, I was going to do weddings, no matter what. This gave me the experience of three weddings, and they paid for the experience of a first time wedding photographer. I then went on to book my first full paid wedding that same summer. I was also working two other jobs and doing any other portrait work that came my way, continually studying, learning and educating myself, following photography conventions and finding out every tip imaginable. I finally moved where I wanted to live, raise my children, and base my business – and one year later, I went full fledged. That choice in itself was risky. I am so grateful I took the final risk, because it has enabled doors to open from the world around me to do what I love. The Flathead Valley has taken in my children and I as their own, where I am able to pursue photography full time with my 2014 summer almost booked up with weddings!

Jennifer_Mooney_Photo_weddings_00001This is the first step to my goal of future accomplishments – and I truly, truly owe my gratitude for receiving such a superior education as my foundation. Thank you Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Thank you C-D class “Charlie-Delta” (as we like to call our group of classmates!) 


And don’t forget – follow your passion!



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Shilo_Bradley_Photo_02152Jennifer lives in Whitefish, Montana raising her two children in her home-based studio. She was featured in My Montana Wedding Magazine this year (see gallery images above). If you would like to talk to Jennifer about her experience at RMSP, she welcomes your questions. Contact her via email at

You can see her work at


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ASMP Best of 2013 Choices – Something to Brag About, Jeremy Lurgio and Inti St. Clair! Thu, 29 Aug 2013 23:00:49 +0000 When it comes to recognition, there is no better trade organization in the realm of professionals than the American Society of Media Photographers  to receive it from. ASMP is the gold standard of professional organizations that help support members of an ever-evolving, highly competitive industry. Needless to say, when ASMP leadership honors their own members, it’s a pretty big deal.

01JeremyLurgio_LostFoundWell, guess what? A couple of this years’ honorees are associated with our very own school. And you’re darn wrong if you thought we aren’t gonna brag about it for their sake. Firstly, freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer, associate professor of photojournalism and multi-media at the University of Montana, and long-time RMSP instructor Jeremy Lurgio was honored for his ambitious and historic project aptly named Lost & Found Montana. An initial showing of this fascinating work made an appearance in the Rocky Mountain School of Photography Gallery last year and received rave reviews and much interest. Not only did his printed images grace our gallery space, the experience of viewing them involved an interactive component with visitors invited to don headphones connected to mp3 players and listen to recorded interviews of current and former residents of the small Montana towns represented in the work. It’s really no surprise to us that Jeremy was acknowledged as a Best of 2013 by ASMP.

is201207273175-inti-stclairSecondly, another honoree is an RMSP Career Training alum. A highly accomplished professional photographer in her own right, Seattle-based Inti St. Clair launched herself into her career like few have. Her unrelenting passion, drive, energy and curiosity have propelled her and her camera all over the globe to photograph lifestyle, portraiture, editorial and travel. After graduating in 2000, there has been no stopping her and she keeps getting better. Her photos documenting a day-in-the-life of sisters Naiya and Anandi in their home and at play received the rightful honor of ASMP’s Best of 2013.

To say we’re proud of these two and their accomplishments would be an understatement. And we aim to tell anyone who will listen. Congratulations, Inti & Jeremy! Now get out there and brag.



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Alumni Spotlight – Evan Prince Tue, 23 Oct 2012 21:41:26 +0000

Evan Prince

Evan Prince attended our Summer Intensive program in 2007 with the dream of making his way in the world of photography both professionally and creatively speaking. Since graduation, he has been doggedly and determinedly doing just that.

Afterward, he headed back home to Austin, TX and spent roughly three years working as a photo assistant/digital tech for several different photographers in the area as well as photographers from all over the country who were shooting in Texas. Working on shoots for magazines like ESPN, Texas Monthly, Fast Company as well as on ad campaigns for clients like Dell and Southwest Airlines gave him a great opportunity to learn about the business and inner workings of the photo industry. He then spent a year and a half working as an assistant in the Dell photo studio in Austin which gave him the opportunity to spend 5 days a week on set where he gained experience working with view cameras and digital workflow which piqued his interest in retouching.  At every step of the way he’s been very eager to learn everything he could about the photography world as he was constantly shooting, assisting and experimenting in Photoshop. Evan took the opportunity to soak up any and all photo knowledge he could get his hands on during this time period.

After the Dell studio work, he decided it was time to get out there and begin cultivating his own clients and photo projects. The realization came to him that one of the best ways to market his work and skill was through personal projects. Since then, he’s been very active shooting and pitching story ideas which ultimately has helped him to develop a unique style and workflow.

At some point he acquired an interest in photographing smaller pockets of American culture some may not consider mainstream, and to that end, he’s had opportunity to work with ballerinas, burlesque dancers, female bodybuilders, Star Wars costume clubs, and live-action role players to name a few. The latest of those projects was shot at a Star Wars convention in Orlando and ran as a story on NPR’s photo blog, The Picture Show.

He’s also been developing his own approach to photographing landscapes and has landed jobs this year working in both Chile, Denmark and covering many parts of the US.  At this point, he considers himself in the beginning stages of his career having just completed an initial trip to New York to formally present his portfolio to national magazines. However, as his background can attest to, he is enjoying the ride and has already seen and experienced amazing things through his love of photography. Due to his single-minded dedication to his creative endeavors and craft, the future can only lead to more fulfilling work and experiences. With his particular passion and vision, Evan is a great example of someone who is creating the future for himself.

To see more of Evan Prince’s work, visit his website at Also, visit his blog and Facebook page.

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Landscapes & Lightroom in Big Sky, MT and Yellowstone in Autumn Workshops Student Slideshows Wed, 10 Oct 2012 22:13:19 +0000 In September, two of RMSP’s outstanding and intrepid instructors, David Marx and Doug Johnson, led two separate workshops experiences back-to-back in southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming. Some of the participants in these joined us for both, and all had a spectacular time in this beautiful part of the country. See the results of their photographic journeys in these excellent slideshows of their work. A big thanks to David Marx for putting these together and sharing with us all. Enjoy!

Landscapes & Lightroom in Big Sky, MT September 15-21, 2012


Yellowstone in Autumn September 22-28, 2012

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Alumni Friday – Kinsey Roy Chamberlin Fri, 29 Jun 2012 21:58:09 +0000 A message often heard by students in our Career Training program is that if they are determined to make a career in photography, they can absolutely do so. An extremely focused student of ours from the last go around in 2011 is proving just that. Kinsey Roy Chamberlin, of Butte, MT came to us with an abundance of enthusiasm, willingness to learn, family support and passion for photography. In our minds, a perfect combination.

With determination as her key, after graduating last October she’s been extremely busy opening the doors to her future by building her portraiture business, developing her style and truly loving what she’s doing for a living in her hometown of Butte. During the last few weeks of school, she describes going into “melt down mode” thinking that no one would ever hire her as photographer, but reality has proven to be the total opposite! First and foremost, she was able to obtain a studio space that encompasses her photo business, an art gallery and her mother’s retail space that specializes in locally made and U.S. made products.  Her focus was in the portrait and wedding business, and the growth in these areas have become her bread and butter financially. The initial success of this side of her business has allowed Kinsey to focus on personal projects involving fashion and boudoir, both of which she loves very much.

These particular outlets have brought her to realize that helping women of all types with their self-image has become one of the most rewarding and unexpected outcomes. She works with “real” women, some of whom may have not felt at all good about their bodies, and has discovered a personal love for creating a safe and inviting space for them to reconnect with themselves during the sessions. Afterward, they often express how much better they feel about themselves when they see the images they have created there. As she puts it, “It’s a genuine realization of how truly amazing and beautiful they really are!” It’s not surprising to us that Kinsey has the ability to capture the beauty in people with her camera. Evident to anyone who has met her, the very light that she sees shining within her subjects burns brightly within her as well.

In addition, she was commissioned by a local hotel to do a display of local images that were hung in the lobby, dining area, and the main hallway. The purpose was to encourage guests to explore Butte and its history instead of just passing through.

The trials and tribulations of opening a new business has forced her to reevaluate it every couple of months and decide what is working and what isn’t. Through this process, she’s determined her goal is to operate a business that’s mutually beneficial for both her an her clients. By trying to give individual attention to everyone she works with and to get to know them, she’s tailoring her services to meet their needs. In this, she’s realizing it’s all about the experience she provides that impresses them, from the time they contact her for services to the time they receive their services, images, and products. This personal attention and focus on the experience has created a strong word-of-mouth market for her business. She doesn’t want just “customers,” she wants fans of her work.

With her business still growing, she feels she still has a long way to go to remain viable.  In her words; “RMSP gave me an amazing foundation for what I need to make a successful business, but my education continues. I still do workshops, read articles and shoot all the time, even when I am not being paid. It is very important to me to continually grow my skill set and stay current in an ever-changing market. I cannot wait to see where I am in a year. The last eight months since leaving RMSP have been amazing and rewarding, and I feel like I have grown so much as a person and as a photographer!” See what what we mean by determination?!

To view more of Kinsey’s work, visit her website at

RoyChamberlinKinsey_portrait-5 RoyChamberlinKinsey_portrait-4 RoyChamberlinKinsey_portrait-3 RoyChamberlinKinsey_portrait-2 RoyChamberlinKinsey_portrait-1 RoyChamberlinKinsey_headshot-1


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Alumni Highlight: Ethan Rohloff Tue, 19 Jun 2012 21:28:15 +0000 As far as where our students land after completing our Career Training program, sometimes they just stay up in the air…literally. Such is the case with 2006 alum, Ethan Rohloff. For the past couple of years, he has taken to the air for his photography business in Australia. With an eye for architecture, his work has taken off lately. He recently won a commission from the Sydney Tourism Board to photograph above and around Sydney Harbor. As he puts it, “I have photographed the (Sydney) opera house from the helicopter for over two years now. I love that I can still find shots that I find unique and compelling. This was from today’s flight (below).”

See more of his stunning work on his website or


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Alumni Friday – Pam Voth Fri, 01 Jun 2012 21:22:36 +0000 Pam Voth graduated from RMSP’s Summer Intensive in 2004 and hasn’t had a real job since. Sure, she’s been working hard, but not at a job, rather, at what she loves – capturing still and moving images with her camera.

A Missoula resident and world-traveler, she came to RMSP after leaving a 20 year career as an advertising and marketing executive. Pam likes to say she “jumped off the corporate ladder” in a moment of lucid clarity. She had looked at the world through a viewfinder for as long as she could remember and wanted to finally turn a passion for photography into a career. From the very start, she focused her photography business on working with commercial and editorial clients. Her experience in the world of major advertising agencies in Chicago and San Francisco proved to be invaluable when negotiating with clients and being able to understand and deliver what they need in terms of images that entice, delight and communicate ideas.

Pam specializes in making images of animals, food and travel and our relationship to them.

Her client list includes: New York Times, Whole Foods, Le Monde (Paris), Black Star Beer, USA Today, Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary), West Paw Design, National Geographic Channel, Montana Magazine, College Board Review, AAA Living Magazine and Missoula’s own Good Food Store.


In her own words:”The light makes my heart race. It’s is the reason I photograph. I have a favorite quote that I learned in SI and it always plays in my mind when I’m photographing. Sadly, I can’t remember who it is attributed to, but the gist of it is that the strongest images take the fewest words to describe. I strive to make images that are about one thing. Not one thousand things.

In 2006, Pam and her husband, Rob Whitehair, founded Tree & Sky Media Arts, a documentary filmmaking and commercial photography company. Pam handles all the photography projects and she produces and shoots for film projects. Pam finds that the principals of lighting and composition she learned in SI translate to her work with HD cinematography.

In 2008, their company produced and distributed the award-winning feature documentary film, “The Little Red Truck” to theaters in 50 major cities across the US.

“True Wolf,” the latest documentary feature film from Tree & Sky Media Arts, has been picked up by a national distributor and will world premiere on May 31 and June 1 at the Seattle International Film Festival, then open at the Seattle Landmark Varsity Theater on June 22, 2012 and roll out across the country from there. View the trailer and read more about this film directed by Rob and produced by Pam on the official website:

Recent Career Highlights and Favorite Moments:

  • She spent 6 weeks photographing in India last year (2011). Half her time was spent teaching a private photography workshop and shooting for a non-profit organization in the Himalayas. The other half was spent on a solo personal journey to photograph the wildlife of India including tigers, monkeys, jackals and birds.
  • Popular Photography invited her to join their team of portfolio review experts (2012)
  • Her photos of Working Dogs for Conservation were published in a children’s book about dog heroes. (2011)
  • She’s also taught several week-long horse-back photography workshops on a beautiful property at the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Western Montana through her association with a local ranch and women’s equestrian club.

In September of 2011, she re-connected with her all-time favorite teacher from 7th grade whom she had not been in contact with him in over 30 years and finally was able to send him a long over-due thank you for being the first person to introduce her to black and white darkroom photography. She wanted him to know that photography had become one of her favorite things in life.  At age 70, he had just purchased his first digital camera after shooting medium format film his entire life. In a case of student turned teacher, they spent 2 days in Yellowstone National Park where she was able to teach him step by step how to use his new Nikon D7000 by relating each menu item and dial to the world of film which they both knew well. By the end of their time together, he was beginning to see the camera as an increasingly familiar tool for visual expression and less as a digital monster set on this planet to baffle and frustrate. That she was able to translate the fundamentals of photography she learned in SI into such a meaningful exchange with her long-ago teacher turned student is perhaps the best gift she ever received from RMSP.

With such a distinguished and diverse career and life experience, Pam has succeeded in learning to utilize her past education and professional skills toward her passion for photography. We call that a winning combo!

To see more of Pam’s work, take a look at some of her recent images in the gallery below and visit her website at

PamVoth_bio_photo Pam_Voth_recent_work_LeMondeMag Pam_Voth_recent_work_CoreStudio Pam_Voth_recent_work_CoreStudio_website _MG_9644_master _MG_9215_master_CROP _MG_9174_master _MG_9030_master _MG_9020_master_CROP _MG_7854_master _MG_5537_master_CROP _MG_5015_master_CROP _MG_4825_master _MG_4263_master _MG_4244_master _MG_3839_master _MG_3372_master _MG_3282_master _MG_2403_master _MG_2108_master _MG_1120_master
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Intermediate Photography in April Student Slideshow Fri, 11 May 2012 22:52:38 +0000 Springtime in Missoula is a great time to get outside with a camera. Just ask the creative and fired-up folks who just completed our Intermediate Photography workshop with instructor Tony Rizzuto last week. In fact, we’ll let examples of their work do some of the talking for them in this awesome concluding slideshow. Enjoy and maybe you’ll convince yourself to potentially up your photography game by attending this fantastic week-long experience in Missoula!

Intermediate Photography will be held again in Missoula, Montana on July 22-27 and September 16-21 with Tony Rizzuto at the helm.


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