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Masters of Photography

Lesson 4 of 54

Photography is stopping time

Albert Watson

Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

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.


  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

Photography is stopping time

(piano music) (piano music) (piano music) When I was fourteen, I discovered this box brownie camera, and I asked my father if would it be possible to get a couple rolls of film, which he did. And he showed me how to load the camera, which he did once a year when he took family pictures. And, I actually went into Edinburgh, with my youngest sister, and I went around Edinburgh with her, she was six years old. And I took pictures of her around Edinburgh, and it was only one day in my life, and I brought the pictures back and processed them. And I actually liked them and I got another roll of film from my father, the third roll, and I took my other sister in and did a few pictures with her. And, it's strange, it was only really two days in total in my life that I did that, but I can remember it crystal clear of, you know, trying to find the shot in the camera. You can imagine how primitive a box brownie was, and the middle was slightly out of alignment in the camera, the view finder that...

you look through. But, I remember that moment really, really, really well. When I took my sister in on the bus and walked around Edinburgh and took pictures of her, and so on. And I, of course, I only had on the first day twenty four frames and on the second day twelve frames. I just, I remember there's something about holding the device, you know, and looking through it, and hitting a shutter. That moment you hit the shutter, and realizing how you could stop time, you know. (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) Years later, it was, let me see another seven years later when I got into art college and suddenly got involved with graphic design, and then they started for the first time a photography course. I had the same feeling when I got a camera there, and began to look through it, and I just fell in love with the idea of a rectangle. And when you think about photography, people who are passionate about it. Everything just really, more or less, comes down to a rectangle. Every movie you've ever seen, more or less, is a rectangle. You might be shooting a square, or you might be shooting panoramic, but everything's a rectangle. And I think I analyzed that pretty early on, especially when I was involved with graphic design. And, I will be forever indebted to my graphic design teachers, for instilling in me that idea of graphics in pictures. And, also, the importance of thinking about things before you shoot. And in terms of graphic design, thinking of things before you put pencil to paper. In other words, what is the concept for what you're doing? What's your idea? Not let me just walk around and take pictures, which of course, I did. But, what was the concept? Where were you going? And, I always remember the first time that I got my hands on the school camera, which was a Pentax Spotmatic. I remember that I had spent really two weeks, because there was only one camera and I had to wait until it was my turn. And, I remember, thinking for those two weeks, what was I going to do with the camera? And a lot of the students, they just went out and took pictures. And I was thinking, thinking what I would do and I remember that I had seen in Dundee, on a Sunday morning, the Salvation Army, going into these old tenements in Dundee that are no longer there, and singing and playing music. And, I decided to do the two rolls of film that I had, basically just photographing the Salvation Army, and their instruments. And of course, I was very lucky, cause it was a cloudy day and the black uniforms with the shiny instruments, the heads, the singing. I was able to do some, which I consider even to this day, some very nice pictures. But the important thing was, I analyze things beforehand. What was I going to do? What was, on my time with this camera, which you only got for a weekend, what was I going to do with the camera? And, so therefore, as I said, I'm really indebted to how the graphic design lectures instilled in you conceptualization. And a lot of that I use to this day. (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) As I became later, much more embedded with photography, I realized that I had definitely a great love of photography, but I really had a problem with a lot of the technical things. I really was not that kind of person. I really had difficulty with a lot of the technical aspects of photography. And I had friends who were photographers over the years, who loved the technical side. So, I think in the beginning, it was a slog for me. Once I really became a working photographer, it was a real slog for me to learn. But, there's actually a great analogy with learning photography and learning to drive a car. Where, the first time you get in a car, you think "I'll never manage this, I'm going to kill somebody. I'm going to hit a wall, or even worse, kill myself." And, after a week of lessons, you feel a little bit better about things. Then, let's go as far as two years later. You actually begin to drive almost automatically. You get into a car and you automatically turn it on, you automatically change gears, you automatically look in the, and there's a little bit of something about that. That once you get over that hurdle of technical things in a car, you learn to drive the car, and I kind of use that as an analogy for photography. In other words, learn to drive the camera, and learn to really know the camera inside out. To begin to really study lighting, and to understand what lighting can give you in a picture. And what natural light can give you, or a mixture of that. And, there really is a fantastic thing when you learn all of that, and I did. And I felt it open doors creatively for me. However, when you learn to drive a car, it's not the driving of the car, it's where you take it. So the same thing should be applied to a camera. Get all the technical things in your back pocket so you can use them. But don't let that be the driving force. Do not spend hours and hours and hours, days and days looking at magazines for the latest lenses, the latest cameras, the latest software programs, the latest computer connections. Try and keep that on the back burner. Learn to drive the car, it's where you're going to take it. Learn to drive the camera, it's where you're going to go with the camera. So, cause people do think of me as a technical photographer, and I can reveal that that is not the case, and it was a real slog in the beginning. So for those of you that have trouble, I know that some photographers have a very hard time with the technical, and I often commensurate with them, when I've known a lot of very, very fine, good photographers, wonderful, who, you know, I often say to them, that they have the advantage of not enjoying the technical part of photography. I said, it could be an advantage, you know, cause all of your concentration goes into the imagery. (piano music) (piano music) (piano 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.