ATTENTION: Arlington Camera has updated the order form from my previous email. Please use this link to pre-order any gear you would like to have delivered in time for classs. Thanks!
The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro!

You may already know that Texas School offers you a great buying opportunity for equipment and supplies. There are great prices by the vendors who will give you the best prices of the year at the school. 

I also want you to know that I am a "minimalist" - I don't buy a lot of gadgets and toys. I am cheap! I buy only what I need to do the job. Please don't go crazy at school buying everything in sight and certainly don't buy anything until you have attended class. 
I will help you make great buying decisions based on what you really need to do the job you want done. So many people buy blindly - I want to keep you from under-buying and over-buying.

As I mentioned, I am a "minimalist" - I will also tell you that I have learned there are no shortcuts on the road to success. It is important to me that you understand that I am not going to put you through a week of trying to get you to buy the "latest and greatest". As a matter of fact, I will spend more time trying to talk y'all out of buying stuff rather than telling you to go buy this or that. 

Some of you are salivating over buying a new camera right now - and to you I say, "Wait! Please do first things first." 
This is going to be a complicated discussion, so please read through this note carefully and e-mail at me if you have any questions.
Anyway, I am going to suggest that if you are serious about becoming a professional photographer, you will want to have two things in your hands when you come to Texas School: a light meter and a suitable system to use off-camera flash. 
The Light Meter
It is my opinion that every photographer needs a rock-solid and reliable hand-held light meter - one that measures both flash and ambient light. The meter in your camera is not a substitute. In my opinion, the light meter is not an optional piece of professional photographic equipment.

I am going to be teaching how to use a light meter on Monday morning, so it only makes since that you would have one in your hands while I am teaching it.  
The Sekonic L308X-U. This meter measures ambient as well as flash and is simply a basic light meter and it does not offer ANY options for using it in conjunction with a remote firing system. The cost on it is $189 from Arlington Camera. 
If you don’t feel like you can buy a meter, then try to borrow one for class. Brand and model probably won't matter. Otherwise, you can look on with someone else.
If you already own a hand-held, dual meter (ambient light and flash), I would not buy another one. The one you have is just fine. You can probably learn everything I am going to teach on your meter. 
Portable Flash Units
It is my opinion that every photographer needs a rock-solid and reliable flash system – the type that sits on your camera’s hot shoe or that can be moved to a light stand. Because I am going to be teaching how to use a flash in class, it only makes sense that you would want to have one in your hands while I am teaching you how to use it. 

If you don't have one, I am going to ask you to consider ordering one (or borrow one) as well. This is so important. I am willing to bet that 70% you do not have an acceptable flash for professional work. 
Both Canon and Nikon flash units come with a hefty price tag. I am going to offer you an alternative, so please read carefully before you decide what is best for you.
Let me begin with my recommendation:
One of the key things we will learn is off-camera flash. 

This flash system is perfect for off-camera flash use. Frankly, it is super-easy to use and you should have no problems getting up and running with it in a matter of moments.

The kit comes with the flash, a flash trigger, a softbox, charger and more...and it all fits in this handy backpack.

It will cost $639 from Arlington Camera. All you will need is a stand to mount it on. If you already have a stand, great! If not, I suggest the Kupo 12.5' Air Cushioned stand. It is heavy enough to support the gear and the air-cushioned feature will keep it from crashing down when you go to adjust the height. It is $89.

If you already have a portable flash, or some other off-camera system, great! You do not have to buy anything else. Again, it would be helpful if you could at least borrow the gear if you don't have it, or you can look on with someone else.

If I can be perfectly honest, you are going to want this system. It is so easy, compact and perfect for our purposes. I understand, you have already spent a good amount to get to Texas School, but this gear is your ticket to being able to implement everything you learn as soon as you get home.
Westcott FJ80
Another option is the Westcott FJ80. It is a great flash for use at events, weddings and other situations where the flash needs to be mounted on the camera's hot shoe.

It can be outfitted as an off-camera flash with some additional purchases. It also works with the Westcott FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Trigger.

This is a great option if you do not have an on-camera flash.

Steve’s Thoughts
Why am I pushing these so hard? The meter and flash are essential tools - so it would be helpful to have them in your hands while you are learning how to navigate around them. You will be able to put these tools to work for you right away, and they will be with you as your career grows. 
Pre-order From Arlington Camera
Some of you already know that Texas School presents a great buying opportunity with Arlington Camera which is the major sponsor of the school. Their discounts combined with manufacturer incentives make this week one of the best weeks to buy professional equipment. Arlington Camera is the official equipment supplier to the school and they have agreed to let me pre-order these meters and flashes for people in my class. They will deliver them to class first thing Monday morning. 
Pre-ordering saves you and me a ton of time and you will not have to miss class time to stand in line!!! You do not have to buy from them - you can support your own local camera store if you prefer...but please bring them to class on the first day. That is when I am going to be teaching you how to use them. 
There is no sales tax on professional photography equipment if you have your sales tax permit. Those of you from Texas will have the Texas application in your class workbook - just tell them you have applied for it.  Those of you outside Texas can order from Arlington Camera tax free (across state lines).
Please note, I do not receive any commissions or compensation from the sale of any of the equipment you purchase at Arlington Camera or at Texas School. I am simply trying to make things easy for you!
If you have any questions about a flash or a meter that you already own, e-mail me at
To pre-order, simply CLICK HERE and print out the page and fax it to Arlington Camera. They will have your order and receipt ready for you in class at Texas School on Monday morning.

Our point of contact at Arlington Camera is Melanie. She can be reached during business hours at 817-261-8131.
Deep breaths! Relax, and know that I am working hard to get you off on the right foot!
E-mail me if I have scared you!
Assignment #5: Don't Fall Behind

If you have not started your homework studies, please get on it because you will get behind and get overwhelmed.

In case you missed it, here are the links to previous lessons:

Remember, take your time and really learn the material.

Also remember:

  • Next time you are out and about, pick up a pack of 3x5 notecards.
  • Gather about 4 – 5 of your all-time, favorite images that YOU have taken. These do not have to be your best work, nor do they have to be all that recent – I just want you to find the images the mean the most to you. Select your two most very favorite among them and have a 8x10's printed that you can bring to class. They can be of a client, a friend or a family member – but it is going to be most helpful if these are images of a person or people and not a landscape or scenic image.

I will be sending you a complete list of things to bring a little bit closer to class.
That’s it for now!