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Masters of Photography

Lesson 41 of 54

Making a portrait of Mike Tyson

Albert Watson

Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

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.


  Class Trailer
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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

Making a portrait of Mike Tyson

(upbeat music) So this another shot that I did in the Catskills of a young Mike Tyson. And he was up and coming, but they were pretty sure that he was gonna be an important fighter. And I photographed a lot of good fighters, I mean, Evander Holyfield, a lot of them. (upbeat music) I had this idea to do a boxer from the back. My father was a professional boxer and he always said, "The strength of a really good boxer's in his neck." And he said that, "If you have a weak neck "then you're a weak boxer. "If you have a strong neck, there's a chance that you can survive a punch." And I had always wanted to do a shot of a boxer from the back, and also to try and do a shot from the back where you could almost recognize who it was. And there's a lotta people who looked at that and said, "Is that Mike Tyson?" So this was a success from that. So of course I did it from the front as well, a portrait of him from the front, but this was a shot that, you know, it was unusual, it was interesting, an...

d it was a good piece of thinking. So once again, preparation, preparation, preparation, just thinking about what you might do. At least have a plan before you go into a shooting, especially with a celebrity, especially. If you're photographing your next door neighbor you maybe have more flexibility, but with a celebrity you wanna be pretty organized. So this shot was done with a Hasselblad. It's a simple on-access strobe. The strobe's right above the lens. And there's, I had a canvas with me, and there's one light on a canvas behind just to give it some vibrancy. So it's two lights, very, very simply done. And I had him work out for about 15 minutes before I photographed him so of course he was sweating. And if you see the details on this, you can see the sweat beads on him. But it's a Hasselblad shot on Tri-X film. This is a film shot. (upbeat 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.