Skip to main content

Masters of Photography

Lesson 44 of 54

Photographing Jack Nicholson

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

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.


  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

Photographing Jack Nicholson

(uptempo music) So, this is another shot of mine from quite a few years ago of Jack Nicholson, and it's quite a funny story because I arrived at his house in Aspen. I was told to be there at 8:30 and we arrived right on time. This shooting was for Rolling Stone. And I arrived at 8:30 and nobody replied and I checked the address and so eventually he came to the door. And his hair was all over the place, he was still sleeping. And he said, "Who the hell are you?" So I said, "Well, we're here to photograph you for Rolling Stone." And he said, "Oh my God, I forgot all about it." He said, "Come in, come in." So, we went into the kitchen and he's halfway up a mountain there. And his kitchen had a big window looking outside to the mountains. And he looked outside and he said, "Oh my God," he said, "it's snowing." Now, this was wintertime in Aspen and they had not had any snow, so, of course, it was a disaster. Then the snow started really coming down, so, this was a little bit of luck that ...

I had this. So I did a couple of shots with him, and I said, "Let's do a shot in the garden in a chair." We went out there and he said, I was looking a little bit worried, and he said, "What's wrong?" I said, "Well, it's going to take a while for you there to just get covered in snow and I like the idea that you've been sitting in the snow for a long time." It was close to the time of the movie The Shining, so, I said, "It will take a little bit of time." He said, "Oh, that's fine, don't worry about it." He took me back into his kitchen and his maid arrived and he had the maid cook me and my assistant pancakes, bacon and eggs. So I actually sat in his kitchen having pancakes, bacon and eggs when he went out and sat in the garden for half an hour, just sitting still, not really moving at all, sitting in the snow, waiting for the snow to pile up on him. So of course, I wolfed down the breakfast and then went out with the camera, it was a Hasselblad shot. I remember it as being a 60mm lens and we got - we got the shot. And of course, he's a wonderful guy to shoot because he's a little bit magical, he's charismatic, and he just had that little smile and he was, of course, totally happy about the snow. So in this case here, of course, the lighting's natural, it's just what was there and of course by the time the snow fell, I had a beautiful fill, it just was white everywhere, so that made it very easy. There's no artificial lighting, there's no strobe in this or anything, it's just basically natural light. Sometimes you get a little bit of luck and here the luck that I had was that it was snowing, so not only did I get a nice breakfast, but I also got a good shot of Jack Nicholson. (uptempo music) Very often, you're faced with, "Are you going to do it in color or black and white?" Now, of course, it's really, for a young photographer now, that is a digital camera is not really a consideration because when I'm shooting now, I'm shooting all color files and keeping in mind I might want to go to black and white, but it's very easy to make that transition in digital between color and black and white. Now back then, when I did the Jack Nicholson shot, I simply shot two rolls of color and two rolls of black and white. And in the end, the magazine used the shot in color because it was for the cover of Rolling Stone and I covered the shot, more or less, for myself. I was pretty sure that they would use the color so I wanted to make sure that I had at least two rolls of film in black and white. And you say, "Well why not just convert the color?" Back then, converting color film to black and white shots was a little bit painful and there was definitely a loss, you would lose resolution if you did that. So back then, a lot of times, you shot color film and some black and white coverage or black and white and some color coverage. (uptempo 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.