Advanced Intensive

Advanced Intensive

Advanced Intensive

Dates: 09/21/2015 - 10/30/2015
Deposit of $500 due upon application approval.
This career training course is past its starting date.

AI-IconsCareer Training Session 3: The final step of Career Training, Advanced Intensive is where you learn how to be a real pro. Think of it as the launching pad for the rocket of your career.

Designed to help you hit the ground running, Advanced Intensive is a six-week course that takes your photography and business skills to the professional level. Build a portfolio, create a business and marketing plan, and learn how to promote yourself and run a profitable photography business. A former president of the American Society of Media Photographers teaches you copyright and licensing. A nationally acclaimed graphic designer teaches you the importance of a polished, consistent graphic identity. In other words, you learn how to be a pro from the pros.

Advanced Intensive is structured around three key areas:

Business and Marketing teaches you how to develop a business plan, understand your cost of doing business, and learn the advantages of becoming a sole proprietorship, corporation, or LLC. By course’s end you’ll be fluent in the business of photography. You’ll know how to negotiate rates and terms, and speak confidently about copyright, contracts, and licensing.

You also learn how to most effectively promote your work. Thanks to the Internet and social media, it’s never been easier to market yourself–or more confusing. We’ll teach you how to avoid time-wasting digital thickets and utilize the most powerful and efficient outreach tools available. From social media to blogs to your own website, there’s a world of potential out there. We’ll show you how to do it right.

Emerging Technologies introduces you to the latest technology. Photography constantly evolves—so should you. New equipment, software, and techniques appear constantly. Video is increasingly in demand. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about the latest in multi-media, including how to create compelling videos and time-lapse imagery from scratch.

Portfolio Development teaches you the design skills to make your images and promotional materials look their best. Mentoring sessions with top professionals in the documentary, fine art, editorial, portrait, and commercial photography fields help you understand exactly what creative directors and photo buyers and curators are looking for. Along with critiqued portfolio-building and one-on-one mentoring, you leave RMSP with your best possible image collection—and the confidence and skills to make it better with every shoot.

Great photographers have mastered their craft. Successful photographers have mastered their business. At RMSP we teach you how to do both.


Advanced Intensive (AI) enrollment is limited to 75 students, divided into 4 groups. For some lectures, groups combine to include all students.

For applicants who have not completed Summer Intensive, a portfolio must be submitted as well as a brief description of photographic experience (including any experience working with studio lighting), photographic goals and education. This process will be initiated through the online registration and approval process. For applicants who have completed Summer Intensive, RMSP reserves the right in specific instances, to evaluate a student’s proficiency in the foundation skills taught before advancing a student to continue on to the Professional Studies and Advanced Intensive sessions. If any student is not approved for advancement into Professional Studies or Advanced Intensive, any tuition paid for those sessions will be refunded.

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

After the application has been confirmed via email, the student will be able to officially register in the course(s) desired. Before being permitted to add a course, each student is required to complete the online ‘Enrollment Agreement Form’, confirming agreement with the terms and conditions of our Student Handbook.  Instructions on accessing the Student Handbook and submitting the Enrollment Agreement Form will be provided after registration is submitted. 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 ($1997.50 each) – one payment is due July 21 and the other is due August 21.

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.

Advanced Intensive requires that a student have a solid understanding of the building blocks of photography, including digital capture, image processing, management and output, and artificial lighting. We require that students have a working knowledge of the most current versions of Adobe® Lightroom® and Adobe® Photoshop® software.


Career Training sessions take place in Missoula. Students pay vendors or landlords directly for housing.

Information regarding housing is sent upon enrollment. If you are also taking Summer Intensive, we recommend looking for an apartment to rent for the entire five-month period.

Equipment and Supplies

A detailed Equipment and Supplies List will be available to registered Summer Intensive, Professional Studies and Advanced Intensive students upon enrollment. Please bear in mind that if you are attending Summer Intensive and/or Advanced Intensive, there is a massive amount of information on equipment available in your coursework, and with technology continuously changing, it is wise to buy at the last minute. The detailed 2015 Equipment and Supplies List, which is available upon enrollment, will assist you with your purchasing decisions. In addition, we provide assistance through our Career Training Bulletin Board (CTBB), accessible to enrolled students via the Internet. A digital camera, laptop computer and imaging software are required in our Career Training sessions. A list of specifications and recommendations for these are included in our Equipment and Supplies list.

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 website at for more information about student visas and travel in the U.S. You can also check 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

Student Loan Program – Students interested in our Career Training sessions have the option of applying for student loans through SLM Financial, a Sallie Mae company. An easy online application process makes this a convenient option for students. Refer to the Student Loans page outlining the details of the loan. Please contact our office if you have questions.

Veterans Benefits – The Summer Intensive, Professional Studies and Advanced Intensive programs are approved for Veterans Benefits by the state approving agency. Benefits differ/vary for each veteran and are dependent on many factors. Please contact Student Services Associate, Rochelle Benton, at with questions regarding the Career Training program and VA benefits.

Ben Ferencz is an art director/graphic designer originally from New York. His work can be seen incorporated into the graphic communications of such brands as MoMA, Yves Saint Laurent, Phaidon, Gucci, MTV, Reebok, Pepsi, Adventure Cycling, Montana Art Museum and The University of Montana. With his wife, Julie, and daughter, Evelyn, Ben resides in St. Ignatius, Montana, where he continues to design and farm. He is the founder and creative director of The Design Cooperative.

View other courses taught by Ben Ferencz.

Colin Ruggiero is a filmmaker and photographer in Missoula, Montana. He has produced a variety of award-winning independent films and shorts and has worked as a cameraman for clients such as National Geographic, Discovery, ESPN, and PBS among others. He loves the ocean and has spent many hours working as an underwater cinematographer. He received an M.F.A. in Documentary Filmmaking from the Discovery Networks Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program and has taught a variety of filmmaking and photography classes for The International Wildlife Media Center and Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Although much of his work focuses on the natural world, he enjoys turning his lens on anything that inspires him. In addition to being a filmmaker, Colin is a musician who has traveled throughout Latin America studying music.

View other courses taught by Colin Ruggiero.

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.

Jeff McLain is a photographer, videographer, and digital artist. His expertise in digital capture and post production has been a valuable asset in the creation of myriad images. His clients include Williams Sonoma, Keen Shoes, Mountain Hardwear and Robert Mondavi Wines. His work has taken him across the U.S. as well as overseas. When not shooting in-studio or on-location, Jeff spends time with his young son in Missoula, Montana.

View other courses taught by Jeff McLain.

Judy Herrmann of Herrmann + Starke, creates imagery for advertising, editorial, and corporate clients. A past president of ASMP, an Olympus Visionary, and recipient of the United Nations IPC Leadership Award, Judy was named one of eleven “photographers you should know” by Rangefinder Magazine. Her inspiring seminars on photography and business have helped thousands of photographers. Through one-on-one consultations and her blog,, she helps people grow creative and financially rewarding businesses.

View other courses taught by Judy Herrmann.

Michael Albans is a professional photographer and photojournalist. He has spent most of his professional career in the New York City area, where he won numerous national awards for his photography, including the Harry Chapin Media Award for his work with homeless children. While in New York City, Mr. Albans spent 13 years as a Staff Photographer for the New York Daily News, covering news, sports, and the aftermath of 9/11. He now resides in Missoula, Montana with his wife and his two children. His work has been published in numerous books and magazines, including Time, Life, US News and World Report, New York, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated,  as well as various newspapers including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Missoulian, and the Associated Press wire service. He spends his days photographing people, writing fiction, loving his family, teaching, playing cello, and sitting by beautiful rivers.

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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.

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Eileen Rafferty is an artist who combines her lifelong study of photography with digital technology to create mixed media and video installations. Based on ideas of memory, photographic history and visual culture, her work fuses archival imagery with modern technology to reposition the past into the present. Eileen worked as a freelance photographer, educator and digital technician in the Washington, D.C. area. She was also a custom darkroom printer for clients including National Geographic, The Kennedy Center and a previous White House administration. She received her MFA in photography and film from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

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Marcy James is a fine art documentary photographer who began teaching for RMSP during the old wet processing days when her passion was building pinhole cameras and working with antiquarian photo processes. Today, she has merged antiquarian methods with digital technology and has a special love for exploring the importance and potential with how our images live in the world regardless of whether we are presenting our work through the web or with exhibitions.

Marcy received her MFA from the University of Montana in 2005 and has taught for both the University of Montana’s School of Art as well as Rocky Mountain School of Photography where her focus has involved working with wet processes, visual studies, working in long projects and portfolio development. Marcy developed her photography through a myriad of jobs including working for CBS News and Television in London and Los Angeles, freelancing as an architectural photographer and photojournalist and owning a successful portrait studio.

In addition to teaching for RMSP, Marcy served the school as their Director of Education for seven years where she designed curriculum and coordinated classes for both our Career Training Program as well as our Workshops. As an artist, Marcy has exhibited nationally and her work has been featured in several publications over the years. Today, if she’s not out walking the hills of Missoula with her family, you will find her photographing in her favorite fictional landscape, No Mans Land.

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Doug Ness spent 15 years working as a bond salesman in New York City and Chicago before being laid off in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. He decided to take a break from working in the financial markets and pursue his interest in photography.  He told himself that he would follow that path as long as it felt right. Now, nearly six years later, he’s still on that path.

Doug has studied photography in Chicago, Europe, and Montana, and now teaches it, part-time. He has dedicated himself to the art of photography and the making of fine art prints. His work has won numerous awards, both in the US and abroad, has been exhibited throughout the US, and is part of numerous private collections. He is represented in Chicago by Schneider Gallery. 

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What are the dates of the 2015 program?
A mandatory orientation is Monday, September 21, from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and classes start that afternoon. Graduation is on Friday, October 30.
What is the cutoff date for enrollment?
We accept registrations on a first come, first served basis until the program is full. We recommend that students enroll as early as possible because our enrollment is limited. We will accept enrollment up to the start of session if space is available.
Who should attend?
Advanced Intensive is the third session in the RMSP Career Training program. A student who has mastered the fundamentals of photography and focused on a career path, is ready to take this next step. AI is for the student who wants to build a portfolio, define a marketing plan and learn to work professionally with video and emerging technologies. Our commitment to students is that we provide them with an up-to-date look at how digital technologies are used today and teach them the skills they need to enter the marketplace and operate effectively within it. In addition, this session gives Summer Intensive graduates and photographers with a strong foundation in technical and aesthetic skills, the time and support for image-making and portfolio development. AI is the last stop on your path to becoming a professional photographer, business owner and creative thinker capable of backing up ideas with skill and training.
Do I need to be a graduate of Summer Intensive and/or Professional Studies to attend?
No, you do not need to have graduated from either Summer Intensive or a Professional Studies course to attend. Please see the information on entrance requirements below.
What are the entrance requirements?
AI requires that a student have a solid understanding of the building blocks of photography, including digital capture, image processing, management and output, and artificial lighting. We require that students have a working knowledge of the most current versions of Adobe® Lightroom® and Adobe® Photoshop® software. For more information about specific requirements, please contact our office. Past and 2015 SI graduates are accepted into Advanced Intensive upon submission of a registration form. RMSP reserves the right in specific instances to evaluate a student’s proficiency in the foundation skills taught in Summer Intensive before advancing a student to continue on to the Professional Studies and Advanced Intensive sessions. If a Summer Intensive student is not approved for advancement into Professional Studies or Advanced Intensive, any tuition paid for those sessions will be refunded. For all other Advanced Intensive registrants a portfolio must be submitted as well as a description of photographic experience (including any experience working with studio lighting), goals and previous photographic education. Finally, you must be a high school graduate (or have GED equivalency).
What is a typical day like?
A typical day in AI involves classroom lectures and demos along with some lab/shooting time for individual work. Generally, classes and lectures meet Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – noon and 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Evening lab sessions are common, but lab sessions are sometimes assigned during the day as well. Full course schedules are available at orientation.
What about housing during the course?
Finding housing is the responsibility of each student. However, RMSP collects and provides housing information for the greater Missoula area, including lists of apartment complexes, property management companies as well as private property room/home rentals.
Is there a lot of shooting involved or is it mainly lectures and class work?
Even though the schedule is packed full of lectures and lab time, an important feature of this session is time for portfolio development, including both image capture and image editing. Students will primarily photograph on their own time, outside of class, although studio sessions with assistants are a part of the schedule. RMSP has a limited supply of lighting equipment which we loan to students for outside shoots.
How much time do I get to work on my own stuff?
As with all our Career Training sessions, AI students who work the hardest typically get the most out of it. Because AI includes the component of shooting portfolio-quality images, some of the intensity of the course is self-generated. Time is built into the schedule outside of class for the student to work on their own shooting and image editing, whether inside our lighting studios, in our digital labs, in our multimedia lab or in the great outdoors. That time is your own. What you do with it depends on how motivated you are to succeed.
How much support will I get from the instructors and assistants?
Part of our mission statement is that we support the photographic goals a student sets for him/herself. We’re actually known for it. Students will have access to assistants who will provide the support and feedback students need to continue to improve their photography.
Do I need to bring my computer?
Yes. As with any RMSP class, you need to have a laptop computer. We require students to bring laptops and use them when working in our digital labs and out in the field. Please see the Equipment and Supplies List for laptop minimum specifications requirements. You will find that as you work more and more in a digital environment, your laptop computer becomes an essential part of your camera gear. In addition, 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 use.
Do I need to have software loaded on my computer?
Yes, you will need to have the latest versions of the software we are using in our curriculum installed on your computer. Details will be provided as the start date of the session approaches.
How much access will we have to the digital labs for processing and printing during AI?
Each group will be scheduled for “directed” lab times that provide time for students to process and print their work.
Will I receive college credit or a degree when I complete AI? Do you provide resources for job placement?
Graduates of the program will receive a Certificate of Completion. RMSP does not offer college credit or degrees. Since working in the field of professional photography does not require a degree, many of our graduates are qualified to work on their own, or be hired to work with other professional photographers in studios, digital labs, publishing companies and various other related fields. At this time, there are no job placement resources available at the school. However, through networking and individual effort, hundreds of our graduates have found work as professional photographers. RMSP will assist students as much as possible in their endeavors to succeed.

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.