One Graduate’s Experience with Visual Studies Assignments

The first session in our Our Career Training program is the cornerstone of RMSP – Summer Intensive. This is the course that attracts students from every corner of the globe and from every walk of life and who all see the world in a unique way. The curriculum in Summer Intensive is broken into several areas of study: Photo Studies, Visual Studies, Light, Color Management and Output and Image Editing. Each one focuses on a different aspect of photography and challenges students in different ways. The Visual Studies area of study is always a popular part of the summer due to the creativity of instructor, Eileen Rafferty and in the way it stretches the students’ way of thinking.

One student that enjoyed her Visual Studies courses was Genevieve Fix. Below are some of her thoughts from her assignments given by Eileen in 2012 that she wanted to share. If you are joining us in June 2014 for Summer Intensive, take note! You might be seeing some of these same assignments.


“The more you know, the more you realize there is to know. Being creative is not just a destination, it’s the journey we take on the road to discovering who we really are.”

-Tedric A. Garrison

By stepping through the doors of the Rocky Mountain School of Photography for Summer Intensive in 2012, I was embarking on a journey of knowledge and creativity. An in-depth learning of the technique was complemented by Eileen Rafferty’s Visual Studies classes. Her teachings on the creative aspect of making an image and challenging assignments helped me see differently, opening doors to new ideas.

FixGenevieve_IMG_5395Learning to see: observe more acutely, knowing the tools, arrange the elements, directs the viewers eye. Develop imagination: feel, intention, story, mood, memory, style. Express ideas more effectively: language, concept, content, metaphor, symbolism, presentation.

Photograph a sense other than sight was our first assignment and I chose taste, submitting “Afternoon treat at Burns Bistro.”

FixGenevieve_IMG_6585The next one was to make one image depicting a color and its characteristic. What characteristic do you see in a color? How can you depict it? After thinking about different colors for a few days, all of a sudden lavender came to my mind, not just because I like the plant but for the fact that it portrays the south of France. So I composed “Provence”.

FixGenevieve_IMG_8678Multiple images in an image was the subject for another assignment using photo-montage, collage, photo in a photo, diptych with text and a title. Not being an expert at Photoshop, how could I do it? “Family Tree” was my take on it and yes all the pictures are from my family.

FixGenevieve_IMG_9040Finally the most challenging assignment for me was to pick a genre and a subject matter (out of a pile) and shoot that combination. Movements (genre): Surrealism, Pictorialism, Abstraction, Modernism, Minimalism. For the subject matter: interior/room, person, still life/object, landscape. I picked abstract and landscape. I took many photos I did not like before getting the concept in “Electric Landscape”.

Fostering creativity is research, motivation, uncertainty, curiosity, perseverance and ritual. Practice, clearly defined goals, time alone, thought + action are elements fostering creativity. Having a journal where I write down ideas and thoughts is very helpful for me.

Feel, mood, and story was what I wanted to convey to the viewers when I put together my first show “Past Elements.” I hope I succeeded but to quote Yo Yo Ma, “If you are only worried about not making a mistake, then you will communicate nothing. You will have missed the point of making music, which is to communicate something.”


Genevieve lives near Huson, Montana with her husband James and their four cats.  Besides being a photographer she is also a Reiki Master and a rockhound! She welcomes questions about her experience at RMSP. Please can contact her via email at