Summer Intensive

Summer Intensive

Dates: 06/01/2015 - 08/14/2015
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 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 as well as your goals in photography.  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.

The first step in the registration 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 1, the next one due on May 1.

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.

No prior photographic experience is necessary for enrollment.  You must be a high school graduate (or have GED equivalency) to attend Summer Intensive. Digital image management and editing is an important component of the Summer Intensive curriculum, therefore, intermediate computer navigation skills are required. If you have limited experience using computers, we highly recommend that you enroll in a computer basics course in your local community as preparation for the program.


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 $1,000 to $5,000 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)
  • 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 2015 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

Tuition and Deposits

Summer Intensive Tuition: $7,995
Deposit: $500

Tuition includes instruction only. Housing, transportation and meals are not included. A deposit is required to hold a spot in a course. In the case of Summer Intensive and Advanced Intensive, the deposit is nonrefundable and nontransferable.

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.

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.

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.

Gabriel Biderman has been exploring the night topography for over 20 years. Using film and digital, he blends the surreal look of the night to enhance historic and urban landscapes. Biderman’s work has been exhibited in NY, London, San Francisco, and Hawaii and he is the author of the recently released book Night Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots. To learn more about Gabriel visit

View other courses taught by Gabe Biderman.

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.

Jeremy Lurgio is a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Missoula, Montana, and an assistant professor of photojournalism and multimedia at The University of Montana School of Journalism. His photography is driven by a passion for documenting people and places. He has become a regular contributor to both Big Sky Journal and Montana Magazine and his work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal and High Country News. Jeremy’s work is also in both the America 24/7 and Montana 24/7 books published by DK Publishing. A native of New Hampshire, Jeremy received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and holds a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Montana. He began his study of documentary photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. He ran an internship program while serving as a photo editor at the Ravalli Republic. When not on assignment or in a classroom, Jeremy is hiking, biking, fishing or backcountry skiing out in the wilds of Montana.

View other courses taught by Jeremy Lurgio.

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.

View other courses taught by Michael Albans.

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.

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.

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.

View other courses taught by Marcy James.

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.

Sarah Chaput de Saintonge has seriously loved photography for about six years and has experimented with many genres in her own work. She attended Career Training in 2011 and has worked as an assistant and instructor since. Sarah graduated with a degree in photojournalism from the University of Montana. She enjoys portraiture, self-portraiture and anything else that involves gorgeous natural light. She loves all Adobe software and loves helping students learn it too. She also loves film photography. She grew up in a small town in Alaska, but now lives in Missoula with Forest and their crazy cats, Apollo and Pepe.


View other courses taught by Sarah Chaput de Saintonge.


When does the 2015 SI course run?
A mandatory student orientation is Monday, June 1, 2015, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Classes start Tuesday, June 2 at 9 a.m. Graduation is Friday, August 14, 2015.
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 26 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 photography is 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.
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'd like 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.
Do I need to bring my computer?
Yes, as with all RMSP classes you need 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.