36-WEEK "PROFESSIONAL INTENSIVE" PHOTOGRAPHY PROGRAM

Learn the Exact, Step-by-step Skills You Need to Launch a Thriving, Fulfilling, Financially Secure Photography Career in Just 36 Weeks 👇

Ask any established photographer, and they’ll agree:

Going to a traditional, 4-year college as a photography major can severely slow your path to becoming a successful, working photographer.

But now — with this little-known “Professional Intensive” program from expert photography educators in Missoula, Montana — you can learn every skill you need to launch a thriving, fulfilling, and financially secure career as a full-time photographer … all in just 36 weeks

Even if you don’t feel confident in your skills. Even if you’re worried you’ll fail. And even if you’re afraid you’ll risk it all and still come up empty-handed.

👉 If you want to learn the skills you need to launch a thriving photography career in as little as 36 weeks … so you can become a successful, well-paid, and potentially even “well-known” photographer … then you’ve just stumbled upon what may be the best-kept secret in the entire photography world.

Here's Why:

"Professional Intensive"
is the Best-Kept Secret for Aspiring Professional Photographers and Videographers 🤫

Accelerated 36-Week Program: A traditional photography major can take up to 4 years to complete. With Professional Intensive, you can learn every skill you need to launch in as little as 36 weeks — up to ¼ the amount of time it would take on your own. 

100% of Graduates Feel Prepared: Launching a photo business is not for the faint of heart, and much of our program is dedicated to giving you the business skills you need to succeed in this competitive industry. 100% of 2022 graduates said they feel prepared to launch a photography business upon graduation. 

~¼ Cost of a Traditional Photography Major: Professional Intensive costs $29,950 to attend. Compared to the average 4-year college, you could save up to $80,000+ in educational costs with RMSP and never have to take a useless general education class.   

Located in Missoula, Montana: Learn in-person from our home city of Missoula, Montana, situated in the northern Rocky Mountains. You’ll be minutes away from some of the best trails and rivers in the United States, enjoy access to coveted photoshoot locations, an abundance of public lands, delicious local eateries, and the friendly atmosphere of a Western college town.

Accelerated Learning Using the “F.A.S.T.” Method: RMSP has pioneered an accelerated learning style called the “F.A.S.T.” Method, helping you reach your goals of becoming an established photographer faster through laser-focused, high-impact, hands-on teaching.

Space Limited, Next Program Runs 9/3/24 - 5/9/25: Spaces for Professional Intensive 2023 have closed. You're now able to secure your spot for our 2024-25 program, but don't delay — spaces fill quickly. Register by December 31st, 2023 and you can take $1,000 off the total program price.

Our Educational Partners:


It's Never Been Harder to “Break Into” the Photography Industry … and It’s Only Going to Get Worse 😬

A frustrating truth: Due to advances in technology, AI, and social media, competition in the photography industry has reached a ferocious high. 

AI is rapidly improving the pace of editing ... and it's becoming dangerously good. In fact, some business owners we’ve spoken with believe they may no longer need photographers in the next 3-5 years

Plus, every year, Apple, Samsung, and other smartphone manufacturers upgrade their phone cameras ... soon, they’ll be able to do 90% of what a mirrorless and DSLR camera can do in most instances. 

When you realize Apple and Midjourney are coming for your future career.

Even worse, it seems like every day, a new online course pops up on Instagram, promising you the secrets of “making it big” in the industry. Sadly, these courses rarely deliver on their overhyped promises. 

For these reasons and more, most amateur photographers never pursue their dream of going pro. 

Their true, innate talent is never realized.

And they end up in a lame, gray cubicle for the rest of their lives, working a job they hate, and only ever taking photos on the weekends … instead of living the life they know they’re meant to. 

The Fastest Way to Break Into One of the Most Competitive Industries in the World? 🤔

The path to becoming a full-time photographer is uncertain at best, and the thought of not succeeding after laying it all on the line is terrifying. 

What if you invest all your time and money to pursue your dream … and you still fail?

The reality is that there is no truly helpful, step-by-step, comprehensive framework on exactly how to become a successful, thriving photographer. 

A quick Google search for “how to build a photography business” returns possibly some of the lamest advice you could find ⬇️

“Purchase the right equipment” … Well no duh, pal. It sure helps to have a camera! 🙄

But it gets worse.

Once you decide to pursue your dream of becoming a professional photographer, it doesn’t take long to start seeing ads on Instagram for courses promising to give you the “one secret” you need to get you there.

The thing is, you want to believe you’re just one good client or one online course away from success, because it’s better than the alternative ...

Knowing you could have done it — that you could have taken the leap to become an entrepreneur — but instead, you wimped out.

Most Online Photography Courses Are Too Narrow and Shallow to Give You What You Need to Be Successful 👎

You can learn some things from purchasing online courses. That can’t be argued. 

The problem is that buying these courses is a piecemeal approach at best — they go shallow, not deep. You’re getting just a *tiny* sliver of information about something that worked for one photographer, in one situation, at one time. 

No wonder you’ve had a hard time getting where you want to be!

Most online photography courses simply aren’t comprehensive or individualized enough to show you what it actually takes to succeed at a high level as a professional photographer. 

He gets it. It's a nightmare!

Plus, when you’re learning at home, on your own — without hands-on, expert guidance or collaboration with other photographers — it becomes far too easy to doubt yourself … 

Fall prey to imposter syndrome …

And give up on your dream of becoming a photographer, because you don’t have the accountability you need to get you to the next level.

That’s why you need a proven, time-tested, and comprehensive framework that can help get there instead.

Introducing
"Professional Intensive"
from Rocky Mountain School of Photography 🤩

Professional Intensive is a hands-on photography and videography program for aspiring professionals. 

It gives you everything — yes, everything! — you need to succeed in one of the most competitive industries in the entire world … all in just 36 short weeks of education.

That’s just ¼ of the time it would normally take at a traditional college.

Rumor has it that the human brain actually grows by 40% during Professional Intensive, due to the immense amount of knowledge you gain. 🧠

When you join Professional Intensive, you’ll learn everything from shooting to editing to running photoshoots to building a business to growing a following … and much, much more. 

You’ll cover countless in-depth topics and learn from over 20 instructors during Professional Intensive.

Here’s the full list:

Professional Intensive Curriculum 2024-25 📝


Expert Camera Skills 
Advanced Image Editing
Efficient Workflows
One-on-One Critiques
Mastering Ambient Light
File Management
Estimates & Contracts
Storytelling for Brands
Equipment Knowledge
Retail Photography
Pricing Considerations
Client Relations
Assisting / Digital Tech-ing
Modern Trends
Creativity & Practice
Advanced Photo Printing
Entrepreneurship
Copyright & Licensing
Color Management
Commercial Photography
Composition & Aesthetics

Studio & Location Lighting
Developing Your Vision
Marketing & Branding
Creating a Business Plan
Finances & Accounting
Image Compositing
Posing & Directing Models
Graphic Design
Online Advertising
Wedding Photography
Food & Product Photography
Editorial Photography
Practical Sales
Portfolio Development
Websites & Blogs
Social Media Marketing
Multimedia & Audio
Videography
Individualized Mentoring
Business Coaching
Professional Retouching

It’s literally everything you need to go pro in a fraction of the time.


However, it’s not just about what you learn — but how …

A Strange (but Powerful) Approach to Help You Become an Outstanding, Established Photographer 😎

Professional Intensive is unlike any other photography course you’ve seen or taken.

It’s built on an accelerated method of teaching known as the “F.A.S.T.” method: Fast, Accountable, Strategic, and Tactile. 

This method — pioneered by Rocky Mountain School of Photography over the last 35 years — is the leading approach for creative careers … and is proven to be one of the industry’s most effective methods for becoming an established photographer.

Even better, the “F.A.S.T.” Method offers up to 16x more education than traditional photography majors and even other photography-specific schools … in far less time. 

No need for gen-eds.

No need to pay for 4+ years of education. 

And no need to slog away for years learning things the hard way.

With PI, you're the person at the top of the triangle. Winning. Obviously.

Here’s How the “F.A.S.T” Method Works:

Fast: A photography major from a traditional, 4-year college takes 4 years to complete. But ... by only focusing on the skills you truly need as a photographer with Professional Intensive, you not only graduate faster … but you save money in the process — as much as $80,000 or more from a traditional photography education at a four-year college.

Accountable: Becoming an elite photographer and building a business around your skills takes far too long on your own. But with expert educators and motivated peers, you’ll have automatic accountability to help you reach your dream of becoming an established photographer faster. 100% — yes, 100%! — of PI graduates in 2022 said they felt confident in their abilities after graduating.

Strategic: Professional Intensive is built for serious photographers who want to build a business doing what they love most — creating beautiful photographs. By strategically focusing only on the skills that matter, there’s no need for useless gen-ed classes.

Tactile: Professional Intensive is tactile, all in-person, and all hands-on. You’ll be required to live in or move to Missoula, Montana (or nearby) in order to attend. By attending in person, you’ll be exposed to new ways of thinking, creating, and growing that aren’t possible with online courses.

By surrounding yourself with other photographers and professionals, you get further, faster and can launch a thriving photography career in as little as ¼ the time it would normally take. 

Professional Intensive Gives You the Skills to Go From 0 to Thriving Photographer in Just 36 Weeks 🏎️💨

Picture this: You and a friend are both interested in pursuing an education in photography. 

Your friend decides to move across the country and attend a “traditional” college as a photography major because it seems like the right thing to do. 

You decide to attend Professional Intensive in Missoula, Montana instead. 

After just 36 weeks of the most rich, engaging, and impactful hands-on photography education in the industry, you graduate and quickly launch your own successful photography business.

You also save as much as $80,000 in the process … and watch as your friend — who decided on the “traditional” path — continues to sit through useless gen-eds, wasting their money, and not getting any closer to succeeding as a photographer. 

In mere months, you’ve begun actively working as a photographer, building your business and your reputation, growing your following, and living your dream. 

Literally what your friend is doing.

If They Can Do It, So Can You — Here’s Where Our Graduates Are Now:

Lizzie Haener, 2020 Graduate
Now: Wedding Photographer in Denver, Colorado

"They do not hold back with the amount of information that you learn right off the bat, and although it was a challenge the staff and instructors were so supportive and helpful throughout the process.

RMSP not only teaches you technical skills but also entrepreneurial business skills and will help you get to know more about who you are as a person; which were all extremely helpful things after graduating. The amount of positivity and courage I have gained from this school has been something I feel everyday and I bring up as often as I can. I remember quotes from teachers, experiences we had in class, and I keep up with classmates and staff which all feeds into a passion for photography and really makes anything seem possible.

I could not imagine running my business, or being the person I am now, without the knowledge and experiences I have from RMSP and the continued support I have even after graduating. It was an absolute joy to be a part of this family of a school and I hope you choose to experience it too!"


Dave Gardner, 2019 Graduate
Now: Photographer with Clients Like Huckberry, Roka and National Forest Foundation

"For a long time, I believed I didn't need to go to photo school to become a professional photographer. And while it is entirely possible for many people, I came to the realization that there were certain things that I just wouldn't be able to learn on my own.

During the 36 weeks of Professional Intensive, I not only learned the technical ins and outs of a camera and the software, but also mastered the use of natural light, utilizing artificial light in the studio and on location and developed my own personal style."


Piper Crowe, 2018 Graduate
Now: Portrait and Wedding Photographer in Western Montana

I was certainly on the fence whether to go to RMSP or college to study photography. I honestly didn’t believe them when they said they’d fit four years of college into one year at RMSP, and, “Was I really going to be able to pay my bills with this later?”.

Looking back, I’d do again in a heartbeat. Turns out, they actually weren’t kidding about fitting four years of college into one year. They meant it when 40% of classes at RMSP covered business. I really did leave there knowing what to do to become a full time photographer, and most importantly having the confidence to do it.

I paid what felt like a lot of money to go to school at RMSP, but I would do it again and again without hesitation and with zero regret. I’m proud of that school and all it lives up to, and I’m quite sure I am only one of hundreds who feel the same way."


Justin Gambill, 2019 Graduate
Now: Portrait, Food, and Product Photographer in North Carolina

“Before attending 'PI,' I knew all the basics of photography. I just needed to learn how to make it a business and learn the more advanced stuff. By the end of the first week of PI, I knew that I knew nothing about the basics.”

'The basics' doesn’t even begin to cover it, the education I received from PI was foundation-building.

Professional Intensive gives you all the necessary tools and knowledge to start your photography career, YES! You’re taught by professional photographers & instructors in a room filled with fellow creatives, OF COURSE; but one of the biggest assets I received from PI was the community."


Aly Johnson, 2017 Graduate
Now: Portrait and Pet Photographer in Maryland

“While the internet has many offerings for the aspiring photog, quality and currency of those resources was always something I felt skeptical of.

When you're trying to build a business in an exciting but competitive industry, education is nothing to take lightly.

Cue RMSP - All the tools, all the techniques already gathered for you in one place, with ALL the professionalism and all the contacts you could possibly need to grow your photo business.

Hands down, I think RMSP has one of the most effective learning models for a non-traditional photography education that WILL equip you to succeed. Instructors are readily available to teach and critique work, including business plans and web design, and the level of expertise among staff is phenomenal!"


Mike Malament, 2019 Graduate
Now: Owner of Montana River Photography

“For the last 10 years, I've been working as a self-taught professional photographer based out of Missoula, Montana.

Since I started my company in 2009, RMSP has been on my radar. Over the years, I watched friends who attended the program and saw the quality of their work improve drastically. Having spent the last ten years within a niche market of whitewater action sports photography, I'm familiar with the demands and challenges involved in making a living as a photographer. However, I reached a point where I was feeling stuck and unsure how to grow and expand within my career.

After reading through the comprehensive PI curriculum I was convinced that attending PI would give me the skills and vision to move forward. I made the choice to attend PI because I didn't want to waste any more time trying to figure it out on my own. Having now completed PI I can say that it was hands-down one of the best experiences of my life. To be fully immersed in photography in a supportive, positive and engaging environment for nine months was invaluable."


Laura Werling 2019 Graduate
Now: Fashion and Lifestyle Photographer in New York City

“RMSP provided preparation for the business of photography, as well as the creative and the technical. RMSP gave me the fundamental tools to understand and start my own business.

I can also say with confidence, now that I am working as a professional photographer, that I have been prepared for the actual work.  Sometimes, even more prepared than my self-taught peers who have been working as professional photographers for years.  The level of detail we were given the opportunity to learn is extraordinary, and not common among other photography education programs.

One of my biggest takeaways from RMSP was something Neil said on one of our first days of school; 'The more you know, the more you know you don't know.' This could not be more true as my world has been opened to the possibilities in this career, thanks to RMSP. My education doesn't end because I graduated from RMSP, it is only just beginning, and I thank RMSP for opening the door to my future."

Here’s What You’ll Get With Professional Intensive ✅

The only program where you learn the exact, step-by-step skills you need to launch a thriving photography career in just 36 weeks. That’s less than ¼ of the time of a traditional photography major, without the need to take useless gen-ed classes.
 
Uncover the best-kept secrets of photography technique, lighting, editing, marketing, business and entrepreneurship. These are skills used by only the most established photographers, and you get to learn them every day during Professional Intensive. 

Technique: Learn the 3 main career paths for photographers and the best methods for producing the most beautiful, impactful images with each so your photos stand out against the competition.

Lighting: Lighting is one of the hardest skills to master as a photographer. We show you the secrets of working with indoor, studio, flash, and natural lighting, how to create impact with lighting, what to do when lighting is bad, and how to manipulate and bend light in almost any setting to produce beautiful images. 

Editing: Editing is the “secret sauce” of photography, and our expert educators show you how to do it better than anyone else. You’ll learn how to edit faster, cleaner, and even how to develop your own signature editing style. We focus on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic, Adobe Photoshop, Capture One Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Entrepreneurship: It’s hard to go it alone in this industry, but if you learn how to become a good entrepreneur, the rest will fall into place. We teach you what it actually takes to become an entrepreneur (it’s way less scary than you think) so you can build your “dream” life creating the photographs you love … without ever having to report to a boss or sit in a lame cubicle!

Marketing: Building a following and marketing yourself and your services effectively has unlimited upside as a photographer. Unfortunately, it’s one of the hardest things to do. We teach you foolproof ways to ensure you’re building your brand and getting in front of paying customers, even if you don’t know a thing about marketing.

Stop. Take a deep breath. There's more!

Business: The “art” side of things comes easier for many, but the skill of business doesn’t … and most photographers simply overlook it, hoping it’ll fall into place. Learn how to command the best fees for your chosen style of photography, how to find clients with ease, and how to build a business that serves you. 

“Leapfrog” your competition by building industry connections with other photographers, businesses who need photographers, and more. 

Learn what’s working in the photography industry NOW. We hire instructors based on how well they can translate the realities of the current photo industry to you, today — not how the industry was in 1998.

Build confidence and marketable skills by literally doing the work every day, in class, with other photographers. Professional Intensive is not a shortcut to success, but it’s about as close as you can get to one. 

Learn the basics of operating in both the retail/consumer and commercial/advertising worlds of photography, making you 100 times more versatile for potential clients! 

An intense and extreme education … but incredibly fun: We call it “Professional Intensive” for a reason: Our program gives you real results. Past graduates have gone on to build highly successful businesses and shoot for their dream clients. 

Build lifelong friendships with other photographers who are succeeding right alongside you.

Pay only $29,950 — roughly ¼ of what it would cost to attend a traditional 4-year college. That’s a savings of up to $80,000 or more. 

And a whole lot more … 

Instead of Wasting Your Time at a Four Year College, do This 

Professional Intensive costs $29,950 to attend

If that sounds like a lot to you, consider this: On average, the tuition costs for a traditional, 4-year college are $108,364 … nearly 4 times more. 

When you attend a traditional college, you also spend an immense amount of time sitting through general education classes that aren’t even relevant to your photography career! In these settings, it’s also rare to learn from working photographers with a history of success and experience in the industry. 

If you already know you want to become a full-time photographer, you’d just be throwing your money away.

Don’t. Freaking. Do. That.

Like, why would you do this to yourself? No thanks, college.

Instead, save as much as $80,000 or more by focusing your education around becoming a professional photographer as fast as possible.

With Professional Intensive, you get a hyper-focused education, no need for useless gen-eds, and you finish school in a ¼ of the time, fully prepared to launch your dream career. 

If you would like more information on the best methods for financing your education, please click here. 

2024-25 Spaces Will Fill Quickly — Act Soon! ⏳

Professional Intensive runs annually from September to May. With just a 36-person class size, remaining spaces for this year are filling rapidly.

Our 2023-24 program is now closed, but you can secure a spot for our 2024-25 program by applying below. Don't delay — spaces will fill quickly!

👉 Register by March 31st, 2024 and you can take $500 off the total program price.

Each day that goes by without joining Professional Intensive is another day that you’re settling for a “normal” life, instead of following your passion of becoming a professional photographer.

How to Apply:

1. Click the button below and enter your email address. Open the email we send you and click the link that says “My RMSP Login.” 

2. IMPORTANT: There are multiple pieces to the application, including a letter of recommendation, an essay, and a write-up about your dream photo shoot. Take it seriously — we do not accept everyone into the program, and this application will determine whether or not you are approved.

3. We will notify you within 1-2 business days if you are accepted into Professional Intensive

👉 By the way: Tuition does NOT need to be paid in full when registering. Only a deposit of $1,000 (non-refundable) is required. See FAQ "How does tuition work?" below for more information. 


FAQ

Why should I learn at RMSP?

Honestly, our program is not for everyone. It's a unique combination of intensive and supportive. It will push you to your limits, but you will not be left behind. If you're ready to work smart, experiment, grow, and hit the ground running, "PI" might be right for you.

The curriculum was built in 2016 as a re-imagined approach to training professional photographers: to give students all the knowledge and practice they need in order to enter the industry with skill, confidence, and a realistic plan for success. By combining our school's previous 27 years of experience educating photographers with the insight from years of successful graduates and industry leaders, this program became exactly what we planned: a foundation-building, collaborative jumpstart for aspiring creative pros. Hear it from our graduates.

What time are classes during the day?

Classes typically start at 9 a.m., conclude at 4 or 5 p.m., and run Monday through Friday. There are occasionally optional shoots on the weekends. However, this schedule does vary throughout the program.

Can I finance my education?

Every RMSP student pays for their education in a different way, whether that be via a private loan, a family loan, out of pocket, VA benefits, a generous family member, or a multitude of trade-school or art-school specific scholarships.

While RMSP cannot accept any Federal Financial Aid student loans, there are other options available to help you fund your education. Feel free to give us a call anytime for more guidance!

For more infromation on financing, please click here.

What if I have to miss class?

Attending classes is necessary to succeed in RMSP’s intense environment. Attendance is taken in all sessions and accumulating more than 15 absences will result in the student not earning a Certificate of Completion. Exceptions are often made for illness, family emergencies, or other unexpected circumstances. Enrolled students will be provided with a more detailed attendance policy at orientation.

Are classes graded?

Yes. The Professional Intensive curriculum consists of core courses, special lectures, labs, shoots, review sessions, project assignments, and Educational Partner presentations. Grading in "PI" is calculated with the student's ultimate success in mind, with ample opportunity for hands-on practice with instructors/assistants and valuable feedback given throughout each unit.

Assignments, quizzes, exams, and projects are graded on a 4-point scale:

0 = work not submitted/not submitted on time
1 = unsatisfactory
2 = satisfactory
3 = excellent

The final grade is the weighted average of all assignments, quizzes, tests and projects throughout the 36-week program. Enrolled students will be provided with a grading rubric for each phase of the program at Orientation. In order to receive a passing grade, the student must complete assignments and projects in a timely and satisfactory manner.

Do I receive a diploma?

No. RMSP is not a degree-granting institution. Graduates receive a Certificate of Completion. Professional Intensive is focused on giving you the skills you need to be a succesful photographer.

Who is Professional Intensive for?

Professional Intensive is a program specifically crafted for aspiring pros. It's for those who want to dedicate an entire year to learning all the right things the right way instead of fumbling through the process on their own.

If you've found yourself struggling to piece together your own education–through online classes, YouTube, books, etc.–and the idea of a carefully crafted curriculum sounds appealing, "PI" is for you.

If you've been "out there" working in the photo industry for a while, but you aren't seeing the results you want and you aren't sure what to do next, "PI" is for you.

If you love the idea of spending your days building and cultivating a photography business and you're willing to put in the work but you want help along the way, "PI" is for you.

You'll develop a technical foundation so strong it's ingrained. This is the reason RMSP requires that students take every foundational class, and why every student must become well versed in both commercial and retail photography. Being comfortably tech-savvy during a shoot means you can focus on what really matters: creativity and style.

Without the technical mastery and precision that deliver outstanding results, the effort you've put into your photography business won't matter. Plenty of photographers take good photos, but very few know how to create and produce exceptional work that will stand out in a saturated marketplace. Some professionals simply wing it, unsure what they're doing with their cameras and why. Not RMSP graduates.

Is it possible to work part-time during school?

Although it is challenging, many of our students have successfully worked part-time jobs while In Professional Intensive. Contact us to learn more about how this works and for contact information for past students who have held down a job — and you can ask them about their experiences.

How do I apply? Will I be accepted?

Scheduled dates for the upcoming Professional Intensive program:
September 5, 2023 - May 10, 2024

Application

To apply for Professional Intensive (PI), please click Apply Now and follow the online instructions. We accept applications for our Professional Intensive program up to the start of the program if space is available. However, due to limited enrollment, we suggest you apply early. In the event that the program is full, you will be notified and your name will be placed on a waiting list. There is no application fee.

During the application process you will be asked to:

  • Give us some information about yourself.
  • Upload one professional letter of recommendation. This letter of recommendation might be written by one of your high school or college instructors — or someone you interact with on a professional level, such as an attorney, a banker, or a minister. This type of letter might attest to your academic strengths, your skills and accomplishments and your work ethic. For more tips on getting a letter of recommendation from a current or former teacher, read "How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation" from College Board.
  • Think about a shoot or project that you’d like to do, something that fits with your professional photography goals. Think about who this project is for — is it a family, a couple, a company or brand, a publication, etc.? Imagine RMSP is that client and pitch your idea to us! Help us understand the look and details of the shoot. You have complete creative freedom on how you pull this together and what you tell us or show us; the only rule is your submission should be between 1 and 3 pages long.
  • Take a short quiz on computer skills.

Enrollment

Once your application is reviewed, RMSP will send an email to you indicating acceptance or denial. If you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to return to this website to enroll. To complete the enrollment process, you must read the Professional Intensive Program Catalog and sign our Enrollment Agreement. If you are younger than 18 years old at the time of enrollment, a parent or guardian must perform this task. You complete the enrollment process by paying your tuition deposit (see Tuition tab).

‍Important: Being accepted into the program does not reserve your spot. You must complete the enrollment process to officially register for Professional Intensive and reserve one of the 36 seats in the program.

Entrance Requirements

No prior photographic experience is necessary for enrollment in Professional Intensive, however our selection process is designed to accept students who can meet the demands of this comprehensive and challenging education. In order to enroll in Professional Intensive, we require that you are a U.S. citizen, and that you:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a full- or part-time career as a professional photographer.
  • Are fully comfortable with intermediate-level computer operating tasks.
  • Are able to demonstrate personal and professional qualities that include a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, an ability to adapt to new technologies, an ability to get along with others in group situations and the determination to succeed.
  • Are a high school graduate or have a General Educational Development (GED) certificate by the time of our program orientation.
How does tuition work?

Tuition for the 2023/2024 Professional Intensive program is $29,950.

A $1000 non-refundable*, non-transferable deposit is due upon enrollment in Professional Intensive. This deposit amount of $1,000 is applied to the tuition for the program. Ninety days before the start of the program, a minimum payment of $7,950 is due to RMSP. The remaining balance is due to RMSP 30 days before the start of the program.

**If a tuition payment is not made within 14 days of the due date (please see above), the student's spot in the program may be forfeited to a prospective student on the waiting list.**

In the event that a student's spot is forfeited due to non-payment, they can be re-registered as soon as the payment is made, provided that the program has not reached maximum enrollment.

*Tuition deposit is refundable to Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students who cancel their enrollment.**Please see the Professional Intensive Program Catalog for special considerations and exceptions regarding tuition payment policies for Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students.

‍Don't miss the Early Registration discounts! If you register by January 31st of the year the program begins, you'll receive $1,000 off your total tuition. If you register before March 31st of the year the program begins, you'll receive $500 off your total tuition.

‍Save money by paying with a check! Due to the large tuition amount of Professional Intensive, credit card processing fees can really add up. We always prefer students to pay by check when possible, but we understand that can make things difficult. That’s why we’re offering $250 off of your tuition if you make your first and second payment with a check.

Here's how it works when paying by check: Apply and register online by paying your $1000 deposit with a credit card (or call). When the first payment is due (90 days prior to the start date), make a check out to RMSP for $7950. When second payment is due (30 days prior to the start date), make a check out to RMSP for your remaining balance. That’s all there is to it. You save $250! Note: the check discount is not available to students using VA benefits to pay for their education. And yes, the check discount can be combined with the other PI discounts that we offer.

Is this truly the most comprehensive photography program?

In our opinion, it really, truly is ... and we've been doing this for 35 years!

Throughout 36 weeks at RMSP, there is a lot of time for lectures, assignments, shoots, homework, fun, learning and community. But the most important part about the whole adventure is that you will leave with a massive foundation of applicable skills. Click here to see what Professional Intensive students will have learned upon graduation. It must also be noted that this lists only the advanced topics. The basic skills a student needs to understand some of these advanced concepts will also be covered thoroughly.

Professional Intensive Units:

Unit 1: Photography Foundations: This unit covers camera functions, exposure, natural lighting, composition, editing, output, and photo gear. You’ll also start to explore your own style, goals, and vision.

Unit 2: Professional Foundations: This unit covers an intro to artificial lighting (flash), Photoshop, basic business and entrepreneurship topics, and the main photo industry paths.

Unit 3: Studio Lighting: This unit covers studio lighting equipment, proper use and safety, and the basics of studio portraiture and product photography.

Unit 4: Business Idea: You’ll develop an initial business idea and pitch it to a panel of RMSP staff and instructors. You’ll also complete a self-directed shoot.

Unit 5: Focus Foundations: This unit provides a solid foundation for Unit 6 with advanced professional topics and an introduction to relevant software programs.

Unit 6: Focus Weeks: You’ll choose either a Retail or Commercial focus and cover relevant topics in marketing, pricing, client relations, shoot planning, image creation, and workflow.

Unit 7: Video & Content Creation: This unit covers an introduction to video and best practices for creating a variety of photo and video content for you or for a client / employer.

Unit 8: Website & Portfolio Development: This unit covers website design, content development, and additional marketing / sales topics. You’ll also pitch another portfolio-building shoot.

Unit 9: Breakout Weeks: This unit covers in-depth instruction on a variety of genres and paths from working photographers. You’ll choose 3 different topics that align with your path.

Unit 10: Business Development & Program Final: This unit covers legal and financial topics to help you start your business. You’ll also finalize your business plan, pitch, website, materials, and portfolio.  

What does the program calendar look like?

Professional Intensive runs for 36 weeks from September 5, 2023 – May 10, 2024. The program is divided into two phases (or semesters): Phase I in the fall and Phase II in the spring.

Students can expect the following breakdown of their time in the program:

PHASE I:
Total expected "school time:" 400+ hours
~60% of time in classes & labs & image critiques
~15% of time at coordinated shoots in studio and on location
~25% of time working on your own photo projects/assignments

PHASE II:
Total expected "in-school time:" 400+ hours
~50% of time in classes & labs & image critiques
~20% of time at coordinated shoots in studio and on location
~30% of time working on your own business/projects/assignments

Also, students may choose to add about 200 hours to their "PI" experience:
- attending additional classes on special topics
- utilizing open studio time for their assignments and personal projects
- going on weekend group field trips

Professional Intensive is further organized into units (see the tab above). Students receive a detailed daily schedule before the start of each unit. Required classes are scheduled Monday through Friday within the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., although classes do not always fill that entire time period each day. The daily schedule of classes varies by unit and by individual class durations. Students can expect to be in class a minimum of 24 hours per week, excluding unit finals weeks and holiday and other breaks.

The academic calendar includes the following holidays/breaks:

September 5, 2023: Program Start / First Day of Phase I
November 10, 2023: No Classes (Veterans’ Day observed)
November 22-26, 2023: No Classes (Thanksgiving Break)
December 15, 2023: Last Day of Phase I

December 16, 2023 – January 7, 2024: No Classes (Holiday Break)

January 8, 2024: First Day of Phase II
January 15, 2024: No Classes (MLK, Jr. Day)
February 19, 2024: No Classes (Presidents’ Day)
March 9-17, 2024: No Classes (Spring Break)
May 10, 2024: Last Day of Phase II/- Program End

Who teaches the classes?

You'll work with 27 different educators  and subject matter experts on a variety of projects. Unlike traditional four year colleges, Professional Intensive is designed and taught in part by real, working photographers. You can find the full list of teachers you'll learn from here

Why Missoula?

Learn in-person from our home city of Missoula, Montana, situated in the northern Rocky Mountains. You’ll be minutes away from some of the best trails and rivers in the United States, enjoy access to coveted photoshoot locations, an abundance of public lands, delicious local eateries, and the friendly atmosphere of a western college town. Learn more about Missoula here

Interested in our facilities? Learn more about our state-of-the-art, 16,000 square foot campus here

Where do I live during Professional Intensive?

While we do not have on-campus dorms, we always do our best to offer recommendations to our students by posting potential rentals on our private class forums and answering student housing questions as best we can.

Each student is responsible for locating their own housing in or around the Missoula area, but housing in Missoula is generally easy to find. In our 30+ years offering long-term programs, we have never had a student not find housing!

You can find detailed information on housing in Missoula here.

Do I need fancy or high-end equipment?

Whether you're a photo gear enthusiast or you aren't even sure how many megabytes your memory card is, we will help you navigate your equipment with confidence when you're in school at RMSP. You'll want to arrive with some equipment on day one in order to be prepared.

However, photographic and computer equipment is ever-changing, evolving, and being updated. For this reason, we strongly recommend waiting until only a couple of months before Professional Intensive to purchase any gear on this list that you don’t already own.

Click here for a full list of equipment requirements.

What's your cancellation policy?

Countdown to "PI" 2024-25

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