Basics of Flash Photography

Learn the basics of using your flash as a source of available light that will enhance the mood and quality of your images.
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Portable flash units, or speedlights, have become more capable, more powerful and a lot less expensive in recent years. The camera brand units had gotten so expensive, upwards of $600, that a lot of people just couldn’t afford them. But a couple of years ago some high-quality imported units started showing up that had all the same features, better battery systems, and sophisticated remote control for less than half the price of the high end gear. Having one or two of these in your kit will solve tough lighting challenges and will give you the flexibility to try styles and techniques usually reserved for bigger studio gear.

In this overview, we’ll discuss the creative aspects of lighting with speedlights, and we’ll look at several flash units and give you some usable tools to add a lot to your images without spending a lot on equipment.

  • The lights: a review of affordable external flashes, from features and functions to cost
  • The accessories: stands, boxes, umbrellas and clamps, the bits that glue it all together
  • On or off: the differences of lighting quality and control between on-camera and off-camera flash
  • Taking control: a comparison of fully automatic TTL vs manual flash power settings
  • Getting in sync: basics of proper flash and camera sync and problems to watch out for
  • Finding balance: learn the concepts of balancing natural light with flash and how to select the best shutter speed for different situations

This class is designed for students who want to learn how to incorporate an external flash/strobe unit in their photography toolkit at a basic level. Students should have a basic understanding of exposure controls (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) and working in manual exposure mode.

  • Cost per person is $55 early registration, $65 late registration.
  • Login in to the Zoom meeting at least 15 minutes before the class starts to become familiar with the program and work out any technical issues that may occur.
  • Class starts promptly at 6:00pm CDT and lasts until 8pm CDT.
  • Advance registration and payment is required.
  • Maximum number of students is 20.


Q: How will the online sessions be different from being in the classroom?

A: Like in the classroom, the online sessions are demonstration classes where you do not need to have a flash gear during the class.

Attendees will be on mute but can ask questions through various methods on Zoom, such as the chat feature. If there is a specific question, the instructor can answer those questions after the session has ended or by email.

We encourage you to use the video feature when you join the Zoom class! It will help us feel connected and engaged as a class, even though we aren’t all in one place. To use the video feature, you will need a webcam.

Q: Do I have to live in North Texas to take the online classes?
A: No! Have you always wanted to take a photography class with your friend or family member but you aren’t in the same location? This is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill with a buddy near or far.

Q: Where is the class held?

A: This class will be held online using Zoom.

Q: How will I know if the class makes or not?
A: If the class doesn’t make and has to be canceled, you will receive an email no later than the day before the scheduled class date.

Q: What if I have to cancel?
A: If you cancel 3-7 days ahead of the scheduled date of the class, you will receive no refund or 50% transfer credit toward another similar class within 3 months of the cancellation date. There is no refund or transfer credit for cancellations within 48 hours of start time of the class or workshop. Full details on cancellations are on our Policies page.

Mike McLean

A Dallas-based freelance photojournalist McLean’s foundation of storytelling skills comes from his strong news background at the Dallas Times Herald. As a staff photographer for the Dallas Times Herald he served on a reporting team that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the crash of Delta flight 191 at the DFW airport. McLean is a frequent speaker and workshop instructor for Journalism associations, Universities and Media organizations throughout the country. He is a co-author of “Get The Picture” and “Grow your know in Photography.” McLean developed and taught an online digital photojournalism curriculum for a University based in Colorado. He recently developed a Photojournalism course sequence for “A Backpack Journalist” which is an educational services and event support company, providing curriculum, workshops and training for the US Military and their families. Presently McLean is a photography content expert for Jostens Publishing and for the past three years he has worked as a visual content lead and instructor in photography at the West Point US Military Academy and the US Naval Academy.

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