Skip to main content

Masters of Photography

Lesson 37 of 54

Photographing sand dunes

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

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.


  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 sand dunes

(drumming music) There's a wonderful place in the South of Morocco, the deep South of Morocco, heading towards Mauritania, and it's called Laayoune. And it's.. really a strangely.. mysterious place, and it's right in the Sahara, but on the coast, and it's full of women who were wearing saris. So when you first get there you think you've moved to India. And it's kind of an empty place, it has a strange eerie quality about it. And just outside the town of Laayoune, you immediately hit just the Sahara, and the classic sand dunes of the Sahara. Now, with the graphics training that I have, photographing sand dunes is maybe one of the easiest things that, you know, you could possibly do, because sand dunes look pretty good first thing in the morning, the middle of the day, and at the end of the day. They do look particularly good when the sun is going down, and the sand dunes are cross lit, and you see all the ripples of the sand. And sand dunes are one of these rather easy things to photo...

graph, where you don't have to do a lot. You don't have to sweat too much, and what really comes into play is a graphic sensibility. And a weirdness of composition. So, I knew that they would be pretty easy to photograph, there's a lot of photographers that photograph sand dunes. And, you know, when you approach something like that as you look at the history of photographing sand dunes, and you kind of say "Can I make mine look a little "bit different?", so you have to try and find something a little bit more unusual, a little bit more mysterious. Can you make the picture feel.. Can you feel the wind that's in the pictures? That's blowing the sand. And how can you make this, these picture more powerful and more memorable as always, and more mysterious. So, that was my plan when I was doing just the sand dunes. Of course I was photographing the people of Laayoune, and also the Sahara Weese who are nomads that live in the desert as well. So all of these kinds of things you keep in mind when you approach it. You think about the people when you're photographing sand dunes, and you think about the sand dudes when you're photographing the people. When you're photographing sand dunes and there's a selection of lenses, a lot of things work. You can actually photograph sand dunes with wide-angle lenses, or you can actually do with a, I think a long telephoto lens doesn't work as well, but I'm sure with some work you find a shot. I like standard lens sometimes to photograph sand dunes. There's something beautiful in that. The most, maybe a 180 millimeter lens. A little bit of, and I'm talking Hasselblad lenses here. When I did that project with the sand dunes, I was kind of sad that on that trip I didn't have my four-by-five camera, because I did see some possibilities by using a slightly larger format there, you know. But it was windy, and when you get deplete cameras, wind can sometimes be really.. A problem, you know, with cameras. And of course, there, sand was also a problem. Because the sand is everywhere. And, sand is.. You see it, but you also don't see the dust of the sand, which is another layer, and of course the equipment just was, had to be continually cleaned, every night. My assistant spent at least an hour cleaning equipment at the end of every day when it was down there, because the dust was just really, really difficult. (drumming 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.