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Masters of Photography

Lesson 11 of 54

Studio session with a model - set up 1


Masters of Photography

Lesson 11 of 54

Studio session with a model - set up 1


Lesson Info

Studio session with a model - set up 1

(upbeat dance music) Sometimes photographers are pre lighting and they pre light the set and say, look I'm all ready. And then they come in and their concentration shifts onto the model. What you should be doing here is yes, you should have your lights all in position where you think they should be. But the final decision of where that light should be is determined by when Clara the model gets in here. You've got to then do your pre lighting and you can. Let' say you get it there 85%, 80% whatever. Sometimes you gotta. What you think is 100% turns out to be 20% and you gotta redo it when the model comes in. So, let's bring in Clara. And now my attention shifts from what's going on here and my attention shifts 100% to Clara. And I'm not really anymore, I'm looking at my lighting but my attention as I said goes towards the model. You have to know, release some of that of your concerns and your angst about what the lighting is, the technical, the lenses, and all of that. You've got to t...

hen being to then shift your attention to the person that's on the set. And you gotta see what your light's doing with where you've put it. And what adjustments you need. Okay? So, I'm coming in and the first thing that is important here when you're doing this and all of this you have to do it speech. She's on the set now. And you don't want this to become laborious. You don't want to be lighting her now for 25 minutes and she falls asleep here. So the important thing is that you now have to move at some kind of speed here. So one of the first things I'll do if she's in the positing that she's in right now, I'll say okay, let's make this a little bit more relaxed. Like maybe she's being for example, she's been watching TV for an hour and a half therefore she's much more relaxed. And you wanna create some kind of graphics with her body language and the shoulders and so on. So, what I often will do, I'll come in and I'll very politely ask the model can I move her around. Because at that point, it's a little bit easier. So, you kind of have to politely ask her if that's okay. That you're gonna move her around and touch her and so on. So here, I've kind of been leaning on her a little bit. And then I look and say maybe the hand comes under here. Maybe you bring it underneath the elbow here. And then you come up to the light here. So there's some movement here. Now what you're gonna what you're gonna do here with this is to create some kind of graphics in the shot. In explaining this to you I gotta go back to camera make sure it's working. But what you want her to do, usually say to your subject, okay now make this graphic yours. In other words, melt into it. Just become. If you're not comfortable try and hold on to it, but make yourself comfortable. Become relaxed there. And so is that you're really easy here. Cause that's an important thing. We're doing almost a relaxed slightly romantic portrait of Clara. So, the next I'll do is I'm gonna check the light on her to see what additional light I need to put in or what additional light I need to cut. In other words, is there too much light hitting her. Is it not intimate enough the lighting? Do you want it to feel more like candlelight or you want it to feel more like a window light. So all of these things you have to kind of quickly go through your mind. Now you gotta start thinking very, very quickly. But the first thing I'll do now I want to see the light on her and balance the background. How dark do you want the background? Do you want it dark and mysterious? Or do you want it brighter or more open. So, the choices of that are endless. Of course you can blowout your background so that it's just a 5% gray. Or you can underexpose it so it becomes a dark force back there. These things you, as I said, you have to do these things pretty quickly when you put this together. So, just hold that position and pretty soon you'll bring in, I'll brin in Louis, who'll come in and begin to check the hair, but at the moment he needs to be here. But just kind of until he knows what I want. He's going to best be right next to me. So, I'm now going check and see how the ratio is between front and back. Okay so, now the first image to hit the screen here. For sure there is five or six things wrong here that have to be fixed. And there is a few things that are fine. Clara just stay there, but stay there, even when I'm talking to you don't turn, right? Just slightly turn your head towards the camera. Just a little bit. That's fine. A little bit straight in the head this way. That's it. Still going towards the light there. Okay. Now, I think at this point we're terribly overexposed a little bit. Yes sir. And the background is also. So we're about half a stop overexposed in the front and the back. So just to give it a little bit more ambiance. And then, I feel the distance from her is very good, but let's bring in the cropping marks here. And I'm working with a 110 lens here, which is slightly telephoto. Just come in on the sides there. And then come in in the bottom quite dramatically. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. There. And then come in on the sides a little bit. And then on this side here. On the right side a little bit. And just come in to the hair a touch. Okay. Now, let's simply keep everything the same. But take your right hand and slide it underneath. You're gonna take it away and slide it underneath your hand Underneath here. That's it. And the shot's the same. And just a really small bit of cock the head, that's it. And the eyes to the light, inch them down just a little bit. The eyes are a little bit high. Just maybe the eyes a little bit lower. Slight turn to the light. That's it. So what I'm doing right now is I'll balance the back. I'm not concentrating too much on the girl yet and her attitude and so on, I just want to get the lighting, but there are certain aspects of the lighting that are good. The definition here. The way the neck looks. The cheekbones here. So essentially it's kind of like a beauty light. I would consider this kind of 75%, 80% of beauty light. At the moment, it's about 75% beauty and about 25% portrait. So there's a touch of portraiture in it. But, what's good about the shot right now is that the lighting is beginning to be something. Not there yet, but it's beginning to be something. Can be better. What's weak right now is the shot's not powerful enough. So it's a nice shot, it's average. It would be fine for a card or something like that, you know. But it's still not there yet. So we make, I'm gonna make look at the adjustment of the background. So just come down. You're doing fine Clara. Sorry. Taking time here. Yeah we got. So now the background's gone down. She's at the same. You kept. Can you just let me see the shot before. And then after. We lost some stop on the front Darryl. I think you bring that up, up you know a third. Okay. So the front light should come up at the. Now sometimes you can, when you're doing something like this if you see her just waiting for you, the model is waiting and she looks off to the side and you see something, by all means you can hit it. And at his point, you can even say, I wonder if there's anything else here. So turn far, keep going around there. And you can even you can even hit something. Keep turning. There. And you can even begin to look at this and see what the lighting is doing from different angles. So you set the light that she's not looking in that direction. But then, does this shot become slightly better. So stay off in that direction there. Louis, a tiny little bit Louise clear the hair there. Stay over here. That's how you make a slight adjustment on this and we open her up a little bit. So therefore the shot actually looks more interesting this way. So, what you begin now is a journey toward looking for a better shot. And how do you make the shot more powerful? How do you make the graphics better? How do you, and the simplicity of this, which is almost like a passport set up. How do you make, turn this into something that has some power? You know? Okay. So there, it's fine. Looking down a little bit. There. So here I think the shot's more interesting but the lighting is not good so. What I would do is, I say okay, this is the, you preset your lighting and you take it in, but the ultimate thing is not to do it too boring a shot, that you're trying to find some shot that has some charisma and some measure of power you know. Just looking down a little bit. And sometimes at this point what you can do even though you're not sure if it's right just turn your head a little bit to the right more. Just a little, very small movement Clara. Chin down a little bit. So, the light is not in a particularly good position but the shot in a way becomes a little bit more interesting. So, that's what I have to look at next. What I have to do is to begin an exploratory now with Clara to find a shot that is more powerful. I'm probably drawn in the shot a little bit more to being a portrait shot, rather than a beauty shot. (upbeat dance 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.