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Masters of Photography

Lesson 34 of 54

Balancing daylight, God bless America

Albert Watson

Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

34. Balancing daylight, God bless America
Find out why Albert stopped to shoot a bill board. His serendipitous discovery reaffirms his main piece of advice: always remain “switched on”.


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Meet your Master Duration:01:26
2 Learn from the journey Duration:15:24
3 Using inspirations Duration:08:43
4 Photography is stopping time Duration:09:27
5 Albert's library of ideas Duration:08:30
7 Setting up the studio Duration:04:56
10 Foreground studio set up Duration:08:46
14 Picking the best shot Duration:03:36
15 Working with photoshop Duration:13:14
18 One day with Kate Moss Duration:05:06
19 Learn to have your ideas ready Duration:06:14
20 Using Polariods Duration:06:29
22 Controlling natural light Duration:05:38
23 Shooting a monkey with a gun Duration:06:27
24 Choosing your format Duration:07:13
25 Composition and lens Duration:04:47
28 Creating still life images Duration:13:48
29 Photographing the Lost Diary Duration:10:53
30 Shooting album covers Duration:03:09
31 The Strip Search Project Duration:10:28
32 Shooting Las Vegas landscapes Duration:08:24
33 Photographing Breaunna Duration:07:21
35 Creating the Maroc Project Duration:10:21
36 Creating the Maroc shoot Duration:08:11
37 Photographing sand dunes Duration:04:09
39 Advice on making portraits Duration:10:12
44 Photographing Jack Nicholson Duration:04:21
47 Studio fashion set up 4 Duration:10:48
49 Look inside the picture Duration:02:57
51 Combining nudes and landscapes Duration:04:52
52 A perfect print Duration:07:51
53 The business side of things Duration:06:51
54 Conclusion and farewell Duration:03:55

Lesson Info

Balancing daylight, God bless America

(funky music) During the strip search project, I was outside of Las Vegas and I had finished doing a couple of landscapes out there and I was on the way in. And it was about 3:30 in the afternoon and I passed a large neon sign. And you couldn't really see it very well because it was still sunlight and you couldn't see the sign very well but I did see that it said "God bless America". And the letters God and Bless and America were against a blowing American flag And this was at the time of and of course there was a lot of patriotism across America, so here was a neon sign that probably was advertising a casino that was switched on to something much more patriotic, which was of course fine. But in noticing that sign, I thought "that is interesting". I double checked the sun position, I had them stop the vehicle and double check the sun position. And I said let's drive out here again round about 5:30 in two hours time. So I went into Vegas, did some other shots there and then we drove ...

out at 5: with a sunset that was going to be round about seven. So, I knew that that sign, some point had to hit a magic point. Where you had a sky with something in it. And Vegas a lot of the time you get of course sunsets. So the sky had something in it that was interesting and at the same time the neon began to read as neon. So I set up an 8 by 10 camera that was my weapon of choice there. And I set that up, and just simply waited another half an hour or so and then began to shoot at the three words God and then bless and then America on three separate plates. And then continued to do the three separate plates so the background always matched in case I wanted in the end to do a triptych. In the end I opted for a single shot of the God sign not a triptych. There was just something nice with the American flag and the word God written across it. And then of course in the Vegas desert and the fact that it was a neon sign. So, my point about this for students is driving down the road in the middle of the day make sure you're not chatting with your assistant or chatting with your partner or listening to the radio or if you are driving of course you do have to pay attention to the road, but stay keep looking at all times. I'm afraid there is no easy way of doing that. You just have to keep switched on. It's again and again the same advice. Because I just caught a glimpse of this sign and in fact and the word that I saw right away was America not God and then I had them pull over and then I can walk back to have a look at the sign. So you have to, I'm surprised sometimes with photographers, that I would have thought almost any photographer in the world if he's a real, real photographer would've wanted to get a picture of that. I mean you know but all photographers, what makes photography tremendous all photographers are different. (funky music)

Class Description


  • Albert’s tips and tricks on landscape, fashion, portraiture and still life photography.
  • Simple lighting techniques using natural light and studio light
  • Simple tips on preparing for portrait shoots
  • How to create incredible portraits using just two $10 bulbs
  • Albert’s tips and tricks on landscape, fashion, portraiture and still life photography.
  • Simple lighting techniques using natural light and studio light
  • Simple tips on preparing for portrait shoots
  • How to create incredible portraits using just two $10 bulbs


Learn how Albert creates his amazing photographs on location and in the studio using simple explanations.

Albert reveals his shoot secrets on how he photographs Presidents, Hollywood stars, music’s greatest artists, landscapes, nudes, chimpanzees and still life. We follow him on location in Morocco, Paris and in his studio in New York. You will find out where he suggests you look to get inspiration, how to approach a portrait session, see how to light like Albert.

We show you exactly how Albert works on these images after the shoot, it’s all about Albert giving you his ideas and advice and helping you see and create better images for yourself.

It’s not about what camera to use, it’s about how to see and develop ideas, concepts and narrative to make stunning photographs.

As Albert says..."You have to stay switched on"


Richard A. Heckler

"Unless you're Mozart"...this course is an invaluable asset. I'm a pro, humanitarian/documentary photographer, & wilderness...and I've learned much from the 40+ sessions here. This is truly a Master best thing to being with Albert. And although I could watch studio sessions forever, this course offered a very balanced curriculum of technical information, artistic encouragement and guidance, and a open, generous window into the thinking of a gifted artist and photographer, sifted from decades of first class experience. Kudos to all involved. Excellent!

a Creativelive Student

I purchased my first CreativeLive class in 2011 and have continued to purchase many classes over the years. I have learned so much from the many great instructors. This one is not a technical class that will tell you to set your camera at f4, 1/60, ISO 400 and you can get this shot. If you are looking for that, there are many other options. If you have a solid working knowledge of photography, this class is so much more. The way it was filmed is like you are there with him in conversation or in the room with him watching him shoot. To see and understand the how and why he does what he does. Not to take anything away from other classes that have helped to give me a strong understanding of photography, this is my favorite CreativeLive class so far.