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Masters of Photography

Lesson 16 of 54

Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock

Albert Watson

Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

16. Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock
Discover the idea and thought process behind Albert's iconic image of Alfred Hitchcock and what it was like to photograph one of the world’s greatest filmmakers.


  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

Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock

(soft music) Alright, so this is, for me, one of the most important shots that I've done because it really changed my career at that point. So this is a very old shot. This is from 1973, and I had just been a photographer really for a couple of years. One day I was in my little studio in Los Angeles, and the phone rang, and it was the head of Harper's Bazaar Magazine. At that time, I wasn't working for any magazines, so I was very, very excited that Harper's Bazaar Magazine was calling me. And they asked have you ever photographed anybody famous? And I said yeah, one or two. Of course, I hadn't photographed anybody famous. And they said well, we'd like you to photograph somebody a week from now, and we'll call you tomorrow and let you know who it is. So I said okay, that's great. So the next day they called, and they let me know it was Alfred Hitchcock. Now, I was just out of film school, so the fact that Alfred Hitchcock was going to be photographed by myself was, of course, overwhe...

lming, and I was very excited about it. They explained the concept that Alfred Hitchcock was a gourmet cook. He loved cooking. It was his favorite pastime. And he was gonna give them a recipe for goose for the Christmas issue, and they needed me to photograph him as, you know, as the illustration for the, basically for the article and recipe. So they said we would like him to hold a plate with a cooked goose on it, and I thought okay, that's not a problem. And I actually thought about it overnight. Now, this was a major change here for me because I think Alfred Hitchcock holding the plate with a cooked goose, I was a little bit nervous that he might look like a maître d' or just it might be a little bit, how could I make it more fun? You know, how can I conceptualize this a little bit? How can I prepare for the shooting? And I then called him back the next day, and I said I don't mind doing the cooked goose, but I think it might be better if he's holding the plucked goose by the neck like he strangled it, and I'll put some Christmas decorations around the goose's neck, and it seems to me a little bit more Hitchcock. So the creative director said let me get back to you. He called back in half an hour later and said the editor in chief loves it, and you don't need to do the plate, and they think it's more fun. And, of course, it is more fun. And I was lucky enough to have Hitchcock, you know, in front of me. He could tell that I was terrified and nervous and so on, and he made the shooting a pleasure. And he's actually a bit of a ham actor, and he just did lots of funny things with the goose. He pretended to cry. He was upset that he strangled the goose. And he was really fabulous to photograph. So the lighting in this is very, very simple. I used to shoot just through an umbrella with a strobe head, and I set it up with two lights in the background, so the background was pure white and a simple umbrella. So back then, I knew a little bit about lighting but not a lot, so the lighting in this is very, very simple. When I finished photographing him, he said to me he said you look like you could do with a nice cup of tea, so he ordered his secretary to get a pot of tea, and I sat there in his office having afternoon tea. It was almost like with shortbread biscuits with Alfred Hitchcock chatting with him about movies and so on. So the shooting really was magical in two ways. I got a half decent shot, and I was able to sit and talk with Alfred Hitchcock. (soft 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.