Skip to main content

Masters of Photography

Lesson 40 of 54

How to be alert to finding photographs

Albert Watson

Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

40. How to be alert to finding photographs
Learn to take advantage of chance situations and moments. Listen to Albert reveal how some of his most famous photographs were created by remaining flexible and alert to what you are seeing around you.


  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

How to be alert to finding photographs

(mysterious music) This picture was done in a village between Fez and Marrakech and I was traveling through a village. It was interesting village and I stopped and went into the village and there was a child looking at me. And I was very shy of the child. Sometimes, you stop, the child is very happy to be photographed, other times, a child can be nervous and worried, you know? Anyway, this child just had a beautiful face with amazing eyes. And I asked, can I photograph the child, yes you can, and the grandmother was there looking after the child. And every so often, you get a little bit lucky. So I quickly set up a strobe and there were some sunlight coming across the face which are mixed with the strobe and the child was there, but the child was nervous and was just looking down and that can be okay too. Not everybody has to look confident in a picture. But I said to the interpreter, and then to the grandmother, can you possibly have the child just look at the camera? I'm being very...

nice to everybody. And the grandmother just stepped into the picture and grabbed ahold of the child's head, and kind of twisted it 'round to the camera. And every so often, you get a little bit lucky, you know, in photography. And this was just a little bit of luck that the grandmother's hands, who are, the hands are covered in tattoos, henna tattoos and here she is, holding the child's head steady. And even then, the child was still nervous that the child wouldn't look at the camera, and the child's looking nervously to the side. Now, here's a case where you're just a little bit lucky. That the child absolutely is just doing the right thing for the photo, and I'm not really totally in control of that. So, of course, I kept shooting. So, the good thing I did was I kept shooting. The bad thing would've been saying, oh, I don't really want the grandmother's hands in the picture, but of course, the grandmother's hands made the picture and made this a stronger image. So it's a, once again, a strobe, but it's a mix of sunlight and a little bit of spontaneity with the grandmother moving in and holding the child steady. (mysterious music) We flew Brianna into Vegas. She was at home with her family in Denver of all places. So we flew her back into Las Vegas and I ended up with her in a motel room, the Algiers Motel in Las Vegas. And I was just beyond fascinated with her because it was just that you could just not absolutely get a bad shot! It just seemed no matter where you put the lights, it looked good. So, I was in this hotel room doing shot after shot after shot, you know. I was almost, I had to concentrate, 'cause I, you know, to make sure that it was as, the shots were as good as I was thinking they were. And anyway, after working solidly with her for pretty much six hours, until two o'clock, we started at eight, one of the assistants said to me, just after two, is there any chance we could get a sandwich? Of course, this is typical of me, that I don't stop for lunch. And for some reason, when I'm working, I'm never hungry. I just, I never need to eat while I'm working. Of course, assistants are a different breed, they need some food. And I said, sure. So, at that point, Brianna said is there any chance I can just grab a quick cigarette? So she went out on the balcony and meanwhile, one of the assistants had come back with a sandwich, she went out on the balcony to have this cigarette, and of course, immediately, through the window, to the balcony, I saw her leaning against this banister with this cigarette with a black bra, and I thought, wow, she just looks unbelievable, I thought. And of course, the assistants are trying to eat their sandwiches, and so and I said, right, put the sandwiches down and get the camera. And I went out, and I said can I shoot you smoking? She said sure! So, basically, as long as I'm smoking, I don't care. So I proceeded to do that shot that you see here of her smoking. So it's another, really, it's an example of when you're working as a photographer, stay switched on at all times. Try and be aware of what's going on all the time. Very often, I can be working with somebody and pose them in a certain way so that I get the graphics that I'm after. And then sometimes, I do something that's a little bit naughty. I'll say to them, just stay there, I have to go to the restroom. And they said, oh, that's fine. Of course, I don't need to go to the restroom. And I wait five minutes and I come back in and of course, I've asked them to hold the position. But what you find, that when you do that, that you leave them for a while, and you can go and have a coffee, almost, and leave somebody on the set. But the nice thing that can happen is that you can put somebody in a graphic position, but then when you come back, they've melted into the position. They've melted into something that takes on a real natural quality and, at the same time, because they're kind of holding what you put them in, you get your shot, and strangely enough, they get something that's natural to them. So often, you really have to look out for that. You have to be observing things all the time. I remember waiting for Uma Thurman in the studio when I was doing some pictures of her at the time in Kill Bill. 'Cause I knew her very well and I also did the poster for the movie, Kill Bill. She was upstairs in the makeup room and I went up to see her, she was ready, and turned out, she just wanted to have a coffee before she came down to the set. And she was sitting on the makeup counter cross legged in front of the mirror, leaning against the mirror, just with a small cup of coffee. And of course, I came up with the camera. And it was actually a tremendous shot, I thought. There's something about I think you have to do a good job to create images, but I also think you have to be pretty alert of other images that are out there for the grabs. So you have to, you have to be switched on all the time. (mysterious 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.