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Masters of Photography

Lesson 3 of 54

Using inspirations

Albert Watson

Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

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.


  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

Using inspirations

(upbeat instrumental music) I think I was very lucky that my life started off as a graphic designer and I was in art schools for seven years. Graphic design, painting, drawing, and then film school, and then film played a big part. So therefore, in going to approach any of my projects, these things all come into play. So a lot of times, the sky project, I'm immediately referencing, you know, Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Or it could be, if I'm in the desert in Las Vegas, then I'm referencing, I'm thinking about Lawrence of Arabia. So, these things I'm always referencing back in my mind and it's not like I, none of this should be that you look at a painting by Degas or Lawrence of Arabia or Game of Thrones and you're trying to copy something in there. It's really inspiration that you're looking for with all of these things, where inspiration is really a crucial driving force so very often, I can go and do landscapes that I might have spent the day before looking at nudes. So, ...

you know, and vice versa. I can look at a landscape book and you can quite easily translate into the female or male body, you know? So, I think it's, the preparation sometimes is not what you always think. You should broaden horizon lines wherever possible and very often, you know, I was working on a project recently in New York of nudes at the Metropolitan Museum, there was a very large exhibition of drawings by Michelangelo, and for sure, I looked at that, and you know, you're not gonna become Michelangelo, but you can look at these things and gain inspiration from these things. You can look at them and you say, my God, look what he did here, you know? I can but try. But, unless you, unless you embrace all of this, you know, sometimes you have to question if you wanna be a photographer or not, and a lot of times people ask me how did I manage to pull that off or this off and so on. It was a lot of work, you know. A lot of graft to learn all of these things and to put them together. But you know, no pain, no gain. (light electronic music) It's just to speak a little bit more about this strange relationship between technique and the creative and it's a strange relationship. They're really bad fellows. They need to stay together, but really, as I said earlier, you really want to conquer the technical aspect early on. Really, my advice is to, is to slog away at learning to drive the car, that is learning to drive the camera, and somehow, hold onto your creative dreams. And as I said earlier, the technical side will open creative doors for you, but never let that be the dominant. Always, and I think it's as high as 80% the creative and 20% the technical, and of course, I think the 80% creative without the 20% technical sometimes does not work. You might get away with it for a while, but in the longterm career, fortunately or unfortunately, you need that 20% technical behind you. And I have to say, sometimes on shoots when I got really exhausted sometimes, you do 12 hours, everyone's done a 12-hour day, but sometimes when you do a 12-hour day and it turns out to do 15 days of shooting and that you're doing that, but sometimes you do get exhausted, and in fact, there was once an editor said to me, I've noticed that sometimes when you get a little bit tired after five days shooting, you'd rely on your graphics to save you, you know? So there was a certain amount of truth in that. But my advice is, for sure, learn the technical things, but absolutely have a creative driving force behind the whole thing. Make your love of photography be the creative side, not just what the camera is. (light electronic music) I realized fairly early on, as I went through my career that the advertising side of things, the editorial side of things with fashion photography, were in some ways, honed your skills, it made you work very precisely. And it forced you, I think, to be a better photographer. So that side of the business, I was lucky, because that side of the business, advertising and editorial, working with editors, working with creative directors, art directors, I actually found that quite enjoyable. However, as I went through that, I realized in the mid-70s, and I was very, very busy all the time, I was a little bit nervous that some of the purity that I was searching for was not evident in the work, and I have always, over the years, had projects. I had always tested, worked on projects. Sometimes it's as simple as doing just a fashion shoot where you're in control of it 100%. That it's not for anybody, but just for you, but I'd realized that I should be outside of what I would normally do in advertising work 'cause by the mid-70s, I was doing major cosmetic campaigns for Revlon, Estee Lauder, Clinique, for just, endless, Max Factor as I said before. So, there was a lot of demand on me to follow layouts and so on, so personal projects were important and one of the first major projects that I did is I went up, 'cause I was fascinated by cowboys and rodeos as a child, and I went up to Canada and I photographed the largest rodeo event in North America, which happened to be in Canada in Calgary, called The Calgary Stampede, and I did a whole series of personal pictures up there when I went up there a week with one assistant and my family and we had a wonderful time up in Calgary and I had a press pass. And there I was with all the rodeo photographers, not having a clue, having you know, never photographed a rodeo before, doing a lot of pictures and ended up being a very successful traveling show that kind of toured America. (funky electronic 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.