Search Menu


This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.

Flash photography


In this lesson, students will explore the use of external flashes to augment available light and control image lighting.


  • Students will be able to take photographs using an external flash in various configurations.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.


50 minutes (with an additional 15 minutes to gather portfolio images)


Lesson step-by-step

Introduction — 5 minutes

Explain to students that today, they will be practicing flash photography in different lighting situations. An external flash is more useful than an on-camera popup flash because it has a higher guide number. Most external flashes also allow for exposure compensation to adjust the amount of light reaching the subject. The camera’s metering system, when used with a compatible flash, allows for through-the-lens, or TTL, exposure.

Presentation — 15 minutes

Using the slideshow presentation, address the essential question: How can we use an external flash to improve available light? Pause for discussion and follow-up questions as needed.

Exploration — 30 minutes

Follow the procedure outlined on the handout. Use a flash that is compatible with your camera for TTL photography. Experiment with taking images using direct and indirect flash. Use exposure compensation on the camera or the flash to adjust the power on the flash to achieve the best possible images. Adjust the head of the flash to modify the lighting.

Assessment/extension: Compile a portfolio of images taken with a flash which demonstrate each of the lighting methods described in the slideshow presentation.


  • Advanced students with available equipment can produce studio or environmental portraits using multiple flashes.
  • Students who are struggling or at a lower level may produce fewer required photos in the exploration by shooting the first, second and third shots only. The expectation remains that these students can still explain when these three type of shots are necessary. Alternatively, a portfolio of various scenes where hand-held, hot shoe flash forward and bounce off the ceiling were used can be substituted, as long as they are identified properly.