Skip to main content

Masters of Photography

Lesson 2 of 54

Learn from the journey


Masters of Photography

Lesson 2 of 54

Learn from the journey


Lesson Info

Learn from the journey

(bright music) I'm just gonna give you a brief history of me, where I came from. I was born in Scotland. I went to a school just outside Edinburgh and I pretty much had a straightforward, ordinary upbringing. My father was a professional boxer and my mother was a professional hairdresser. And I went to Lasswade High School, just as I said, just outside Endinburgh. And one of the major turning points for me was that I went to a dance once in Edinburgh and I met this wonderful girl. And we began dating. And the strange thing was we actually found out that we'd gone to school together, primary school together, and we found one of the original photographs, which I have, and there's 36 kids in the class and we're actually sitting together in the front row. Well, she was already going down to a job in London, we were 17 and she already had a job down in London at the Foreign Office. And of course, I decided to follow her down there and I got a job in the Air Ministry working on Blue Streak...

missiles of all things. And she was across the street from me, we had lunch every day, and bit by bit, we got engaged, and then got married. Came back up to Edinburgh, got married, and went back down to London. A year later, our first son was born. And I decided to go back up to Edinburgh and I got a job in a chocolate factory testing chocolates. And Elizabeth, my wife, she decided to go back to college and to become a teacher. And I started to go to night school and I went to art classes for two nights and mathematics two nights, which are kind of an odd combination. And life was quite tough, but after one year in Edinburgh, I got a position or I got an entry into Dundee College of Art. and Elizabeth transferred up to Dundee College of Education. And that was the beginning really of our post education as it were. I spent four years in Dundee, really loving every minute of it. And I decided really to specialize after two years in graphic design, Elizabeth qualified as a teacher, and we had our second son was born. And I really discovered graphic design at that point. Through graphic design was really my first real connection with photography, super connection with photography. And I have to say that when I got my hands on a camera, things changed for me. I loved graphic design, I loved art, I spent a lot of time with paintings, museums, and my courses entailed a lot of drawing, a lot of painting, even pottery and silversmithing. And I had a very good photography lecturer that was brand new in the school and he was a fanatic in the darkroom, he loved darkroom. And he really instilled that in me, the importance of the photographic print. So at this point I really became obsessed. And for my 21st birthday, my wife got me a small camera, a simple camera called a Fuji. And I really, as I said, became obsessed at this point. And I can't emphasize enough the importance of my art training and the graphic training that I received. And to this day, I still rely on that, really. Because a lot of the teachers were forcing you to think about what you were doing, not just how the graphics played. And I completed my course there, Elizabeth by this time was qualified as a teacher, and I applied to get into the Royal College of Art in London to the Graphic Design School. And I passed the exam, which was not easy back then, it was a two-year course. And we moved down to London, Elizabeth got a teaching job, and I began studying, not graphic design, but they thought I was better suited to the film school. So I went in to film school to come out as a director. So once you put together all of this art training and things like sculpture, painting, drawing, and of course graphic design, album design, a book jacket design, posters, then three years in London at film school, it was the time of The Beatles and The Who and the Rolling Stones, it was kind of a wonderful time. It was very hard for us, we had two children, but I kept up during my film school days, I kept up my love of photography. I was over in the Royal College of Art Photography School in the evenings printing, and still I was always doing photography work, as somewhat on the side, but I was always passionate about it. And then I actually managed to get one or two jobs photographing some catalogs and store windows for an American company. So I even began to make a little bit of money doing that. And in the summer between Dundee College of Art, which was then St. Andrews University, and going down to the Royal College of Art. I actually won a scholarship with IBM to America for a month. And I was flown over to America and I went from New York to Aspen in Colorado to LA to San Francisco, Chicago, and then Washington DC. And that was very formative, because I went to the Aspen Design Conference. I met a lot of interesting people. I had dinner with John Cage, the composer, and all of this is affecting your future way of reasoning and thinking and putting your life together, really. But it was an odd environment. So by the time I finished three years later at the Royal College, I was really interested in going back to America. And Elizabeth got a teaching job in Los Angeles and I actually went in as her dependent. So the four of us arrived in the states with not a lot of money. But one of the kind of slightly stupid things I did, I had done an advertising job before I left London photographing a rental catalog. And with the money from that, I bought a Mustang in Washington DC and we drove across America in the summertime, which was a little bit foolhardy. And we arrived in America on August the 28th, 1970. (cars honking) I really began in LA, I had a little portfolio, I had my Hasselblad with me and with one lens. And Elizabeth began teaching and we were in Los Angeles, just outside of Los Angeles. Things were tough, we didn't really have much money at all, and we had this brand-new car, but not a lot of money. And I had one connection in Los Angeles with this art buyer at a advertising agency. And this art buyer, I met him 'cause he was the only connection I had and he said well, I can introduce you to somebody at Max Factor. And he introduced me to the head of Max Factor, which is a cosmetic company, obviously. And he introduced me to the head of international Max Factor. And the guy looked at my portfolio and said you don't really have any shots of women, it's a women's company. And I said well, they're kind of on the boat coming over, which was of course was a fat lie. And he said well, I'll tell you what I'll do for you. He said, I'll give you an hour's booking with a model and we've got some dresses leftover from shootings in the closet. So you can take the clothing and do an hour's shoot. So I went to the advertising agency, picked a girl that I thought was good. Excuse me, the modeling agency. Picked a girl that I thought was good and spoke to her and said would you like to do a long shooting day and I'll give you some of the shots for your portfolio? And I went out with my one camera and my one lens and picked her up at 7:30 in the morning and I shot until 7:30 at night. And all of the money I had, I put into the film. So here I was going around shooting her in long grass and shooting her in the beach, shooting her in adobe houses and et cetera, et cetera. And she brought along this male model friend of hers and I did pictures of them together. So three or four days later, I went back into Max Factor with my meeting with all of this film. And of course I produced the film and the guy was astonished and he said, oh my god, how did you manage to do this in an hour? And I said well, I actually talked the girl into doing it, but she's just charging you for an hour. And he looked at it and then I wasn't even sure that he liked all of what he saw, but he said give me a minute and he went away with three of the rolls of film. And he came back and he said I've good news for you, he said I've just sold three of these images for you and he said we'll buy them from you. And he said let me know the cost of the film and the processing and he said I'll give you a PO. And of course in those days I didn't know what was a PO was, a purchase order. And I got into the elevator and ripped open the envelope and I was kind of looking at them thinking $150 a shot. So that was $450 plus expenses and I thought that's fantastic. And when I got home and we had to type out a bill, Elizabeth who was typing out the bill on a school typewriter, she looked at it and said you know it's not $150, it looks like it's $1,500. So I said $1,500, that's impossible, because we did three of them and that's $4,500. At this point Elizabeth's salary was about $1,500 a year, so how could it possibly be $4,500? And we thought shall we just bill it anyway and hope for the best? And I said we're gonna get deported or something for some sort of crime. And so I had a meeting with this guy two days later and I spoke to him about this. And I said I just wanted to clarify the money that was on the purchase order and I said it was actually $4,500. And he looked at me and he said well $4, is all we can afford at the moment, he said, but I'll get you more money the next time. So of course at this point $4, was like just a ridiculous amount of money for us. You have to remember this was 1970, 71, and $4,500 was really a lot of money, it was more like probably 40,000 today. So, of course, that was really my first large, decent paying job that I had done. And within a year, I had a very good studio. Within three years we had the biggest studio in Los Angeles. So that helped me, really, was a major turning point for me that, that job. And I was really putting into play all of the things that I had learned over these previous years, even silly things like missile research or chocolate, analyzing chocolate, and then seven years at art college. That all of these things really came into play really at that point. Plus, the dominant thing, my absolute passion and dedication to photography. It never seemed like a job to me, it just seemed like something you wanted to do. So after three years I was in this beautiful studio in LA, and then the next thing was we got lots of calls from New York. I was in LA between 1970 and '76, but in 1974 I opened a small studio in New York. I actually did 40 roundtrips in my first year and bit by bit I established myself as a New York photographer. And that's actually where I am today. And we shut down the LA operation and I moved into New York and began working at that time for New York magazines, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, GQ, then later on Rolling Stone. I always kept an interest in still life, portraiture, and fashion, and I was running all of these things together. In fact, a lot of people I did still life with didn't know I did fashion, and the people that I did portraiture of celebrities really didn't know that I did that and they thought I was a fashion photographer. So I've been now in New York now for 40 years working, always doing my own projects, really holding on to all of these things from the past, but always look for the future. (bright 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"


  1. Meet your Master

    Albert welcomes you to his course.

  2. Learn from the journey

    You will learn how to use your passion and dedication to get to where you want in photography. Albert explains to us how his own journey developed from early days in Scotland to creating the biggest photography studio in LA, and then establishing his studio in New York.

  3. Using inspirations

    Albert teaches you how to use inspiration from your past and present to form you work. Learn his tips on the relationship between technique and creativity, and how to create work that shows your own personality.

  4. Photography is stopping time

    Learn from Albert how he discovered his passion for photography and how to apply his "stopping time" ethos to your own work.

  5. Albert's library of ideas

    Join Albert in his own library where he shows you which books and artists he suggests you look at and study for inspiration and motivation. He also reveals his tip for buying inexpensive photography references.

  6. Tips on preparing for a portrait shoot

    Albert teaches you how to work with your subjects to get a great portrait shot. Learn his tips for putting people at ease when they are in front of your camera.

  7. Setting up the studio

    Learn to control the shooting environment. Learn how Albert begins to set up a studio session. Albert shows you how he begins to approach a portrait session in the studio.

  8. Understanding studio collaboration

    Albert teaches you about his different types of work ranging from test shoots to editorial shoots and advertising shoots. He explains his thoughts and techniques to help you understand how to make each a success.

  9. The importance of casting and hair & make-up

    Albert teaches you the importance of communication between yourself and a team. Albert also explains his tips on working with hair and make up to create a look.

  10. Foreground studio set up

    You will learn how Albert moves out from behind the camera while setting up for a shoot. He shows you how to look at your light from a variety of perspectives.

  11. Studio session with a model - set up 1

    Learn how to work with your subject. A unique insight, Watch and learn Albert working in the studio, explaining his thoughts and showing us exactly how he shoots.

  12. Studio session with a model - set up 2

    Learn how Albert creates his iconic beauty shots. See and listen to Albert as he explains his thought processes when creating this type of shot.

  13. Studio session with a model - set up 3

    Albert teaches you another of his lighting techniques. Watch and learn as Albert explains exactly how he creates a beautiful portrait.

  14. Picking the best shot

    Albert discusses and shows you his techniques for selecting the best shot from a shoot.

  15. Working with photoshop

    In this lesson you will learn how Albert uses post production to further refine his images.

  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.

  17. The gigantic question... Colour or black and white?

    Which should you use? Albert explains his own ideas to you on how and why you might use one or the other.

  18. One day with Kate Moss

    Albert explains his ideas and how he created his iconic images during a day photographing Kate Moss.

  19. Learn to have your ideas ready

    Albert encourages you to have faith in your own creative instincts and how to always think creativity to persuade a client toward agreeing to your photographic ideas.

  20. Using Polariods

    Discover ways to go back and create projects and new images from your older work. Albert shows us the technique he used to create his iconic Running Man image.

  21. Creating beautiful photographs of hands

    Learn to appreciate the expressive nature of photographing hands. Albert explains some his most defining hand shots.

  22. Controlling natural light

    Discover Albert's tips on how to make the most of natural light and how Albert controls it in his images.

  23. Shooting a monkey with a gun

    Albert teaches you to always be on the look-out for new projects, and to recognise the power of conceptual thinking. Learn how monkey and a gun came to be created.

  24. Choosing your format

    In this lesson you will learn about formats. Albert describes different examples from various formats he has used as guidance, discover tips on how to use each type of format and his camera of choice.

  25. Composition and lens

    Get tips and suggestions on which lens to use and when. Albert gives you his thoughts on using the compositional elements available to you in order to produce a better photograph.

  26. Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye

    Albert teaches us how for him, its essential to raise landscape photography above the "picture postcard" shot and give the images more meaning. Albert explains the approach to his Scottish landscape series of images, one of his most unique, personal projects.

  27. Planning and ideas for a landscape shoot

    Albert details for you how he carefully prepared for his Isle of Skye project: taking care to be as organised as possible, whilst also remaining open to taking advantage of the unexpected.

  28. Creating still life images

    From shooting bed pans in L.A., to photographing Tutankhamen’s possessions, Elvis Presley’s iconic gold ensemble, and Neil Armstrong's space suit. Albert teaches you to persevere in the face of difficulty, and to always inject your still lifes with meaning.

  29. Photographing the Lost Diary

    Albert shows you how one simple idea can blossom into the creation of true art. An entire advertising campaign was based on his magical concept: that of an intergalactic anthropologist’s photographic diary, depicting tribes on earth 30,000 years ago. Discover how he brought this unique vision to life.

  30. Shooting album covers

    This lesson we go behind the scenes of a shoot with musician Sade. Albert reveals how he produced her beautiful Love Deluxe album cover, and how important it is to make your subject feel comfortable on set.

  31. The Strip Search Project

    Albert tells you how he prepared and created this immense project. He suggests ways for you to create projects and images that document your own corner of the world in images.

  32. Shooting Las Vegas landscapes

    Albert tells you how he prepared for the Las Vegas project, how he approached and shot his landscapes there. He passes on to you how the difficulties he faced helped him, and will help you, to develop as a photographer.

  33. Photographing Breaunna

    Albert tells you how to always be alert to chance encounters. He tells you how he met and was inspired by Breaunna. He explains how some of his most recognisable Strip Search photographs of her were created .

  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”.

  35. Creating the Maroc Project

    Learn how Albert put together his exquisite Maroc book. You will be inspired to create your own projects and to look for potential in every aspect of a project, giving added meaning to your photographs.

  36. Creating the Maroc shoot

    Albert describes his own, personal methods and ethos in creating the Maroc project. Find out what equipment he used, how he documented his journey, and what he shot to create this iconic book.

  37. Photographing sand dunes

    How did Albert capture the breathtaking, rippling sand dunes of Laayoune, Morocco? Find out as Albert encourages you to be innovative; to always strive to add something new and different to scenes photographed by others before you.

  38. Photographing Moroccan children

    Preparation is not the death of spontaneity. Albert explains some his most breathtaking, impromptu shots of children in Morocco, Albert shows you how he suggests you intertwine careful planning and impulsivity to ensure you never miss your shot.

  39. Advice on making portraits

    Learn from Albert that the way you communicate with those you’re photographing is always visible in a shot. In this lesson Albert suggests tips to capture your perception of a subject into a single picture.

  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.

  41. Making a portrait of Mike Tyson

    Albert delves into the inspiration behind his famous Mike Tyson photograph, reaffirming that preparation before a shoot is often key to transforming your vision into a reality.

  42. Creating intense colour in a photograph

    Albert creates intense colour in an image. Listen to Albert as he takes you through his preparation process, and the techniques he used to construct one of his most well known images, Red Devil.

  43. Portraits of rap stars and a Golden Boy

    Discover the relationship between a subject and the camera itself. Legendary Rap stars and Albert’s Golden Boy photograph feature in this lesson. Albert discusses facial geography.

  44. Photographing Jack Nicholson

    A Jack Nicholson photoshoot for Rolling Stone. Albert explains how the legendary snowy shot came to be, and gives you an insight into how he photographed the iconic actor and filmmaker.

  45. Creating a portrait of David Cronenberg

    Be inspired to get creative. Ingenuity and inventiveness take centerstage in this lesson as Albert describes how he produced his unique photograph of David Cronenberg for Rolling Stone — the old-fashioned way.

  46. How to light only using two $10 bulbs

    This is a incredible lesson where Albert demonstrates to you that expensive lighting equipment is by no means a necessity! Discover how to use two $10 bulbs to create a dramatic, high contrast shot. Simply genius.

  47. Studio fashion set up 4

    See the fashion photography master in action as we watch each step of this shoot. Watch and hear how Albert manages the body language of the model and the simple set up and lighting to create a fashion shot.

  48. Studio session with a model. The geography of a face

    See how Albert creates art with the profile of a face. Learn how to work the geography of a face with Albert's simple lighting techniques.

  49. Look inside the picture

    Albert gives suggestions on how to progress and review your photography. Find out his tips on how to look "inside" the picture.

  50. Creating memorability in an image

    Learn Alberts tips on the skill of quick thinking and analysing your surroundings. Albert uses an example where he used his surroundings to create a unique and surreal shot for Italian Vogue.

  51. Combining nudes and landscapes

    In this lesson we reveal one of Albert's very latest projects. Learn as Albert teaches you how he created a stunning series of images by combining nudes with different landscape textures.

  52. A perfect print

    Albert explains where the passion began for printing his own work and how it has developed. Listen to his overview on how critical it is to print an image on the right type of paper in order to create the perfect print.

  53. The business side of things

    Learn how Albert runs each aspect of his business. We travel with Albert to one of his exhibitions in Italy where he explains the why and how of the prints on show.

  54. Conclusion and farewell

    Albert summarises some fundamental learning points he has acquired over his 40 year career. He leaves you with some poignant tips and bids his farewell, "onwards and upwards".


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.