Summer Intensive


Summer Intensive

Dates: 06/02/2014 - 08/15/2014
Deposit of $500 due upon application approval.
This career training course is past its starting date.

SI-iconsCareer Training Session 1: The cornerstone of RMSP’s offerings, Summer Intensive is the only program that lets beginners dive headlong into an 11-week comprehensive education in the fundamentals of photography. Beginning with the basic functions of your camera, SI builds your skills from the ground up in an intense yet encouraging environment with a singular goal: helping you become the best photographer you can be.

We do this by immersing you in a vibrant, supportive community of students and professional photographers committed to developing your unique vision. Our fundamental belief, inspired by the teachings of Ansel Adams, is that mastering photography’s technical side is the first step. After the basics of shutter speeds and f-stops, you’ll learn the foundational skills of portrait, commercial, studio, and landscape photography. You’ll learn to process, calibrate, and print your images in our high-tech labs. You will eat, sleep, and in all likelihood dream photography for one entire summer.

While learning this diversity of shooting styles you should be prepared for unexpected discoveries. You may come for wedding photography but realize you love shooting landscapes. You may seek the thrill of adventure photography but come to prefer the precision of the studio. One thing is certain—mastering this medley of disciplines will give you the tools you need to become a complete, well-rounded photographer.

Our instructors work together as a dynamic team in their mission to develop your skill, technique, and vision. Each week of SI builds on the last, as over 20 separate instructors and assistants teach you to refine your eye and understand the dance of light that can make your photographs special. We nurture you, challenge you, push you to think creatively, and help you make discoveries you didn’t know were possible before RMSP. Summer Intensive students frequently tell us the course blew away their expectations. Beyond capturing the best images of their lives, the rigorous communal journey of SI forms lifelong friendships. The SI experience becomes a part of who you are. Every year graduates tell us that it was the best summer of their lives.

Whether it’s time for your first career, a new career, or you simply want a foundation of photographic skill and a trained creative eye for wherever life takes you, Summer Intensive is for you.

To register please visit the ‘Details’ tab on this page and review the section on Enrollment.


We accept enrollment into our Career Training program up to the start of the session (if space is available).  However, due to limited space, we suggest you register early.  In the event that a session is full, you will be notified and your name will be placed on a waiting list.

We do all of our application procedures online including first registering, awaiting email confirmation, then officially enrolling. To start the registration process simply click the ‘Add to Cart’ button to the right of this page. Upon checkout, you will be asked to submit a short statement (200-500 words), telling us reasons for wanting to attend as well as your goals in photography.  You will be charged a $50 registration fee at that time.  Upon receipt of a registration form, RMSP will follow-up with an email to you within a few days, confirming the registration and providing additional instructions on enrolling.  Make sure that we have your current email address as this is the primary method of communication to our students.

The first step in the enrollment process will require that the registrant read RMSP’s Student Handbook, and complete the online  ‘Enrollment Agreement Form’, that confirms agreement with the terms and conditions of the handbook.   A $500 tuition deposit will be due at this time. There will be two additional payments required, each for ½ of the remainder of tuition ($3747.50 each) – one due on April 2, the next one due on May 2.

For those students approved for a Career Training loan through SLM Financial, SLM Financial will make tuition payments to RMSP according to the disbursement schedule as detailed on student loan documents.


There are a number of apartments to rent or sublet during the summer months in Missoula. RMSP will support prospective students in finding housing. We generate a roommate matching list for student that may want to share housing, as well as provide information from landlords who have rented to our students in the past letting us know about availability. Information will be provided in Spring and will be updated as we receive it.  Arranging details with landlords for renting and or a roommate for sharing, is the full responsibility of the student.

These housing cost estimates are based on past feedback from students. Individual costs will depend upon the equipment you already own as well as your lifestyle needs:

Estimated Rent: $400–$900 per month dependent on room/apartment, furnished/unfurnished, utilities included/not included, etc.

Estimated Living Expenses: $600/month

Equipment and Supplies

The amount you spend is an individual decision and is, of course, dependent on what you already own. Most students in SI and AI spend in the range of $1000 to $5000 on equipment and supplies. We estimate that the cost of equipment and supplies needed for the entire 22 week program could be in the range of $7,000 if a student needed to purchase every item on the Equipment and List. Keep in mind that in addition to your camera gear, you will need a laptop computer installed with required software. Please check the Equipment and Supplies List for minimum specifications for your laptop and software requirements.

A complete Equipment and Supplies List is available to you upon enrollment in the program. In the meantime, please see the Career Training Equipment and Supplies Checklist below. Keep in mind that many students are able to make strong, successful photographs with simple cameras and a limited selection of lenses. We recommend starting out with a minimum of equipment and adding as you go. Generally, your equipment needs will change and grow as your photographic work evolves; depending upon the project or field you’re working in.

Please bear in mind that if you are attending SI, Professional Studies and/or AI there is a massive amount of information on equipment available in your coursework. With technology continuously changing, it is wise to wait until you get the information in class to make some of your purchasing decisions. Some of the items on this list can be bought during the summer and fall. You do not need to start the session(s) with all of these items. We do ask that you come with a digital SLR camera, a laptop computer and some basic supplies – but beyond that, feel free to buy during the program. This checklist provides a quick reference guide to the basic equipment supplies necessary for SI, Professional Studies and AI. Please expect additions to the Equipment and Supplies List in early spring before the session(s) begin.

Career Training Equipment and Supplies Checklist

  • Digital SLR (DSLR) camera body or a mirrorless, interchangeable lens digital camera with a hot shoe
  • Comfortable camera bag or backpack*
  • Lens(es) covering wide, normal and telephoto focal lengths (please come to the course with one lens that covers the normal range. For other lenses, wait until the course begins to make purchases).
  • Tripod legs and head*
  • Laptop computer (For use in class and outside class)**
  • Dedicated flash unit*
  • Equipment manual(s) and cables (it’s a good idea to get familiar with your camera manual before arriving).
  • Circular polarizer*
  • Lens hoods/shades for all lenses
  • Cable release/remote*
  • Three (3) empty portable external hard drives (you will receive recommendations on these and will need them on the first day of class)
  • Sensor Cleaner*
  • Memory cards (compact flash or SD)
  • Appropriate software loaded on your computer**
  • Flash drive
  • Extra batteries for everything
  • Monitor Calibration Tool*
  • Color Checker Card*
  • Textbooks (we’ll update you in the spring. Not applicable for Professional Studies courses)
  • Note-taking materials – paper, pens/pencils, voice recorder (optional)
  • Wacom Pen Tablet (not required, but recommended for SI and AI)
  • For storing digital prints, a package of 8.5”x11” photo pages in a 3-ring binder or binder box

* Unless you already own this equipment, wait until after the SI/AI course begins to purchase.
** We’ll update students in Spring 2014 about this item.


International Students

RMSP welcomes students from all over the world. We are authorized to issue SEVIS I-20 forms to international non-immigrant students in order to obtain M-1 student visas. Once you have completed the enrollment requirements, we will issue you an I-20 form, which you can then take to your nearest U.S. consulate to obtain a student visa. You must also prove to the consulate that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the U.S. Refer to the State Department Web site at for more information about student visas and travel in the U.S. You can also check the following Web site for foreign student information: We cannot predict how long your visa approval process will take, so we recommend making a decision as early as possible

Financial Aid

Students interested in our Career Training courses have the option of applying for student loans through SLM Financial, a Sallie Mae company. An easy online application process make this an option for students. Please contact our office if you have questions.

Veteran’s Benefits

Summer Intensive is approved for Veterans Benefits by the state approving agency.

Doug Johnson is a Colorado native now living in Missoula, Montana. Before a life-changing pursuit of photographic art, he was an outdoor educator for more than 20 years, passionately teaching people backcountry skills in navigation, mountaineering, avalanche awareness and wilderness first aid. Since graduating from RMSP’s Summer Intensive program in 1996, Doug’s work has covered many diverse projects in the documentary, commercial, fine art and educational fields. Assignments have taken him from coyote shooting in Wyoming to the last stages of a woman’s life to the graffiti-covered alleys and abandoned buildings of Denver. He is currently involved in an ongoing project called Art Music, which fuses the art of photography with live musical performance. His educational philosophy is fun, intuitive and full of creative persistence. No matter where you are in your photographic journey, Doug’s balance of the aesthetic with the technical can help you further express your unique vision.

View other courses taught by Doug Johnson.

Kathy Eyster, a former English teacher, is an outdoor photographer specializing in landscape and macro subjects. As an instructor, Kathy translates the jargon of digital photography into everyday language and offers students positive, practical suggestions for making photos they are proud to share. Kathy’s enthusiasm and experience have made learning photography fun for hundreds of students across the country. In addition to teaching, Kathy shares digital photography tips through her blog, Essential Digital Camera.

View other courses taught by Kathy Eyster.

Forest Chaput de Saintonge directs Rocky Mountain School of Photography with his wife, Sarah. He has been immersed in photography since he was born. He grew up in Missoula and began taking photos with an SLR when he was seven years old. He started working for Rocky Mountain School of Photography at age 13. During his free time, he likes to become a master at new things, build stuff, run, hike, bike, photograph, and be an amateur astronomer. Forest has a BA in Astrophysics, just because. He really enjoys teaching and loves to help students understand concepts thoroughly. Forest has vast experience working with and teaching Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and has worked many hours in the black and white darkroom.

View other courses taught by Forest Chaput de Saintonge.

Tony Rizzuto has been a photographer for 14 years. Although his interests and photographic subjects are diverse, teaching is his primary passion. Tony is a 2001 Summer Intensive graduate and has spent the last nine years as the owner and head photographer at Sandbox Studios in Missoula, Montana, where he caters to both corporate and private clients. Prior to focusing exclusively on his portrait studio and teaching, Tony served as the Curriculum Director at Rocky Mountain School of Photography. His work has been featured on the cover of Rocky Mountain Child and in the pages of Three Rivers Lifestyle magazine and the Missoulian. He brings the same relaxed and humorous approach to both the classroom and the studio.

View other courses taught by Tony Rizzuto.

Tim Cooper began his career as a commercial and assignment photographer working with clients such as The North Face, Vasque, 3M and The International Heart Institute of Montana. His editorial and commercial photographs have appeared in Travel and Leisure, The New York Times Magazine, Outdoor Photographer, Fly Rod and Reel, Northern Lights and Private Clubs as covers, advertising, art and editorial illustration. Tim now spends most of his time as an educator and writer, lecturing on photographic and digital imaging technologies. Tim has been the consultant and technical editor for many digital imaging books as well as the co-author of the book, Complete Photoshop® CS4 for Digital Photographers, as well as Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots with Gabriel Biderman. In his spare time, he continues his pursuit of fine art photography of the natural world.

View other courses taught by Tim Cooper.

Neil Chaput de Saintonge, a former junior high science teacher, has been teaching photography for more than 40 years. In that time, he has taught thousands of students in classes and workshops in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. He is well known for his enthusiasm, technical knowledge and love of teaching. In 1973, Neil studied under Ansel Adams. Neil’s photography interests include ballet, documentary, people, landscape and fine art. In 1979, Neil founded the Southeastern Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, a two-year school that trained students for careers in graphic arts and photography. After vacationing in Montana in 1988, Neil and his wife Jeanne moved to Missoula and started Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Neil has also been a massage therapist for 30 years, is a Reiki Master and teaches healing work.

View other courses taught by Neil Chaput de Saintonge.

Andrea Harrell New Mexico

I continued to take photos in my free time and began to become more and more interested in knowing how to transform scenes I saw with my eyes into great photos. Then, I found an RMSP catalog. I hung onto it for a year. A photography school located in one of my favorite places, where I also happen to have ties, intrigued me. Then another catalog came and I started a collection. I continued to take photos thinking about wanting to know more. Two years later I took a Photo Weekend with RMSP. That was in the fall of 2012, and that is all it took. A brief two months later I was signed up for Summer Intensive.

Bonnie Caton Oregon

They call it intense, and it is. They don’t waste any time. You get there, and you get down to business learning, creating, finding inspiration, and forming bonds with people you never imagined you’d know. And by the end, the person you’re especially glad to know better is yourself.

Charlie Bulla North Carolina

I learned something new everyday. I became a better photographer. I became more creative. I can highly recommend Rocky Mountain School Of Photography to anyone that wants to work hard at their photography whether that means you want to become a professional or whether you want to improve a hobby.
Attending RMSP was the best decision of our lives. When we met, Jamie had been shooting for a while and had an associates degree in photography. She was trying to figure out what direction to take with her photography, knowing that she wanted to work as many fashion elements into it as possible. I was applying for med schools and absolutely despised the notion of a future devoid of a creative outlet. On our wedding...

Megan Jae Riggs Montana

To say that RMSP changed my life would be an understatement. I see light in a completely different way and I feel like an artist for the first time in my life – all thanks to SI. RMSP is at the forefront of contemporary photography technique and thought, and it shows with their instructors. Not only are they practicing photographers themselves, they somehow manage to have the ability to be great teachers as well.
I realized that after having raised a family of three kids with my wife, worked in construction for 33 years (the last 20 as a self-employed general contractor), that maybe it was time to do something that I was passionate about without waiting for my golden years. This is where my RMSP story begins.

Michael Walters Montana

Living, eating, and breathing photography during every waking hour set off a lightning bolt in me that I had needed for years. Yes, I certainly still have a lifetime of learning photography to look forward to, but thanks to the amazing staff and instructors at RMSP I now have a voice and a direction.


When does the 2014 SI course run?
A mandatory student orientation is Monday, June 2, 2014, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Classes start Tuesday, June 4 at 9 a.m. Graduation is Friday, August 15, 2014.
What is the cutoff date for enrollment?
We accept registration on a first come, first served basis until the program is full. We recommend that students enroll early due to our enrollment limit. We will accept enrollment up to the startof classes if space is available.
Who should attend?
Summer Intensive is Session 1 of the Career Training program at RMSP. It is designed for photographers who are looking to improve their technical skills while immersing themselves in the creative process, and anyone who wants to jumpstart a career in photography in a single season. You do not need prior photographic experience to enroll. We start with the basics (f-stops, shutter speeds, equipment) and proceed quickly to more advanced topics (studio lighting, creative processes, digital image-editing). Student ages generally range from 18 to over 70. Students come from all over the country and world. Interests include nature, commercial, portraiture, fine art, and everything in between.
Are there any entrance requirements for the Summer Intensive program?
No prior photographic experience is necessary for enrollment. You must be a high school graduate (or have GED equivalency) to attend SI.
Do I need strong computer skills to enroll in the Summer Intensive program?
Yes. Strong computer skills are essential to your success in the program. Digital image management and editing is an important component of the Summer Intensive curriculum and intermediate computer navigation skills are required. We highly recommend that you enroll in a computer basics course in your local community if you have limited experience with using computers on a daily basis. To find out more about specific requirements please contact our office.
How does Summer Intensive prepare me for Professional Studies and Advanced Intensive?
The Summer Intensive program is the first step in the Career Training Program at RMSP. It will give you a strong foundation in the fundamentals of photography as well as a broad overview of the various careers in photography. Just as the techniques you learn and the skills you develop are essential for a working professional in any field of photography, they also prepare you for further learning.
What if I can only take Summer Intensive?
In the past 25 years more than a thousand students have graduated from the Summer Intensive program. Many of these students began the program with little or no knowledge of photography and have since joined the ranks of professional photographers with no further formal education. Summer Intensive is just the first session in our Career Training Program and can stand alone as a terrific jumpstart to a career for the student who has had previous business experience as well as a solid direction and a defined market. With those things in place and depending on how motivated you are, the sky’s limit as to how successful you can be. If you can’t do more than SI this year, consider coming back to Missoula next year to finish up the program.
What is a typical day like?
There is no truly typical day in SI. Generally, classes and lectures meet Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 – 6 p.m. Evening lectures are common, and labs and studio sessions can be assigned for mornings, afternoons, or evenings any day of the week. Some Saturday lab, studio and field sessions will be scheduled. Assignments start immediately. This program requires your full attention, as your days are very busy. Complete course schedules are available at orientation day.
Will I have time off during SI?
Yes. However, we call it “intensive” for a reason! There will be no required classes scheduled on Sundays, however we often schedule review sessions on Sunday evenings. There will be two long weekends off during the 11 weeks. In general, you will either be in class, in the digital labs, in the print lab, or in the studio most weekdays. The days and times of day that are unscheduled will likely be spent on shooting assignments or taking care of your personal business (or sleeping!). Keep in mind that if you plan to leave school at a time other than the long weekends, you will most likely miss classes and get behind on your work. If this is inevitable, please let us know ahead of time if you’re able, and arrange with instructors to make up missed work. There is a week break scheduled between SI graduation and the first Professional Studies course.
Where do I live during SI?
RMSP assists prospective students in identifying places to live. Please see the "Lodging" section under the "Details" tab.
Do I need a car for the summer?
Missoula is a bike-friendly city with good public bus lines if you live near the school’s classroom locations. However, one of the great pleasures of the summer is being able to get around the beautiful state of Montana and shoot, which will require a car. Major rental car providers are located in Missoula. Dollar Rent A Car franchise offers a special discounted rate to Rocky Mountain School of Photography students.
What kind of photography can I explore during SI?
Photographers of any interest find subject matter in the Missoula area. Nature and landscape photographyis an obvious draw with the dramatic surroundings, but so are photojournalism, portraiture, wildlife, fine art and macro work. You will have assignments that can serve these and any other subjects.
What kind of equipment and supplies do I need?
See the Equipment and Supplies Checklist. A complete Equipment and Supplies List will be available to students who have completed the enrollment process. Additional equipment updates will be provided prior to the start of the program.
Do I need to shoot with a digital camera during SI?
Yes, you will need a digital SLR camera that takes interchangeable lenses. Most students will elect to use a digital SLR, but the new mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera that have a hot shoe are also acceptable.
Can I shoot with a film camera during SI?
We welcome you to shoot with a film camera during SI for your own enjoyment. However, all assignments are to be completed with a digital camera.
Can I shoot with a medium or large format camera during SI?
Yes. If you have a digital medium format camera, you are welcome to use it for assignments. If you’dlike to shoot with a medium format film camera and/or a large format film camera, please feel free to do so for your own enjoyment. However, all assignments are to be completed with a digital SLR camera.
Will I work in the black and white darkroom during SI?
No, SI does not include any work in the black and white darkroom. Although historically we have taught the fundamentals of photography using the black and white darkroom, digital technology provides a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the learning process. We see digital photography as a complete process - from the decisions we make at the moment of capture all the way through printing our image, it can enhance our original vision and provide unparalleled opportunities for creativity.
Will I learn digital image editing during SI?
Yes, you’ll begin learning image editing right away. This class covers digital editing and image management using Adobe Lightroom® and Photoshop®.
Do I need to bring my computer?
Yes. When you shoot digitally you need to have a laptop computer. We require students to bring laptops and use them when working in our digital labs. Working on your own computer enables you to set up and use your professional workspace and workflow in class with assistance from our staff. In general we recommend bringing all digital photography/imaging equipment you already own—you never know what you'll want to do with 11 weeks of nothing but photography!
How much will I be able to focus on my area of interest?
We design SI so that you have as broad an experience and overview of photography as possible. While some students enter the program knowing what area of photography they ultimately want to work in, there are many that make that decision during the summer. And many students change their minds about what type of photography they like best after they are exposed to the many exciting options! We recommend that students approach the summer with an open mind. You may find that you will work in more than one area of photography in your professional life. To be sure, most assignments in SI can be completed using any subject matter you find compelling. In the next step of the program, Professional Studies, you’ll be able to focus completely on one or more particular fields. Advanced Intensive, the third step in your education, teaches you to work professionally in the digital environment and allows you the time and support to begin building a portfolio in your area(s) of interest, in addition to helping you define your marketing plan.

Cancellation Policy

All Career Training sessions have limited numbers of seats available.  Enrollment, along with payment of appropriate deposit(s), reserves a seat in a session. Withdrawal from a Career Training session is a serious matter. When a student accepts a position in a session, other students are denied that position. If a student withdraws after a session begins, another person cannot take his or her place.

Tuition Refund Policy for Summer Intensive and Advanced Intensive Cancellations

    1. A full refund of all money paid will be made to any applicant that cancels the Enrollment Agreement within 72 hours (until midnight of the third day, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) after the Enrollment Agreement is accepted by the applicant.
    2. A full refund of all money paid will be made to any applicant who is not accepted by the school.
    3. A full refund of all money paid less the tuition deposit will be made to any applicant who cancels enrollment prior to the start of the program (and after the 72-hour cancellation privilege).
    4. A full refund of all money paid will be made to any applicant in the event that educational services are discontinued by RMSP.

Summer Intensive and Advanced Intensive Withdrawal Policies:

Refund computations will be based on scheduled weeks (Monday through Saturday) of class attendance and calculated as of the official date of withdrawal. The official date of withdrawal will be considered to be the date of receipt of withdrawal notice from the student. In the case of a student’s prolonged illness or injury, a death in the student’s immediate family, or other circumstances that make it impractical for the student to complete the program, RMSP, at its sole discretion, will make a settlement that it considers reasonable and fair to the student. The school will propose a settlement within 30 days of the official date of withdrawal. Refunds for students who withdraw from a course will be totally consummated within 30 days of official date of withdrawal.

Summer Intensive Withdrawals:

Once the Summer Intensive program begins (and after the expiration of the 72-hour cancellation privilege) the following policy will be in effect:

    1. Withdrawal within the first week of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 20% of the tuition of the session, plus the $500 deposit.
    2. Withdrawal within the second week of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 35% of the tuition of the session, plus the $500 deposit.
    3. Withdrawal within the third week of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 50% of the tuition of the session, plus the $500 deposit.
    4. Withdrawal after the third week of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 100% of the tuition of the session, including the $500 deposit.

Advanced Intensive Withdrawals:

Once the Advanced Intensive program begins (and after the expiration of the 72-hour cancellation privilege) the following policy will be in effect:

    1. Withdrawal within the first week of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 35% of the tuition of the session, plus the $500 deposit.
    2. Withdrawal within the second week of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 50% of the tuition of the session, plus the $500 deposit.
    3. Withdrawal after two weeks of the session: The amount owed to RMSP is 100% of the tuition of the session, plus the $500 deposit.

Special Circumstances

Note: RMSP reserves the right to cancel any session or course that does not meet minimum participant requirements, in which case participants will be informed as soon as possible and all money will be refunded. RMSP is not responsible for any losses incurred as a result of a session or course cancellation. We encourage participants to purchase refundable airline tickets and consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance.