Skip to main content

Masters of Photography

Lesson 20 of 54

Using Polariods

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

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.


  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

Using Polariods

(piano music) Another project that I got involved with couple of years ago, we were looking at a lot of old Polaroids. And, of course, I have tens of thousands of Polaroids that I've taken over the years. And, I came across this Polaroid at the bottom of a drawer, actually. A lot of times we, which is not very archival, we just take the Polaroids, dry them, put them in a rubber band and throw them in a box. So eventually you end up with basically hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of Polaroids in a box and then you eventually end up with dozens and dozens and dozens of boxes. And, I decided to look at them, you know, go through them and I actually laid aside a period of three weeks which is a lot of time for me and I went through these boxes. And, sometimes at the bottom of a box, you find just interesting Polaroids. (piano music) I found a shot that I had done, it was a fashion shot I had done in San Francisco of a guy in a black coat. Two and a quarter Polaroid running, and I loo...

ked at it I thought it's kind of interesting. And, I put a magnifying glass on it, and I thought, hmmm. It's very interesting. So of course, what I liked was the granular quality of it that it has a certain roughness to it, which I liked, but at the same time, the lumps of grain in it looked pretty sharp to me. So, it's a strange combinations of appearing low resolution, but at the same time high resolution. So, you have this beautiful quality of this raw Polaroid and I then decided we scanned it as high a resolution that we could at 10,000 DPI in 16 bit. We scanned it, and of course, I was amazed at what suddenly appeared. So, then it was like putting it in front of an electrode magnifying glass. Sort of, it was just hyper real-looking. And, I then suggested to the people, the gallery people, that worked with me, I suggested that let's go ahead and let me do a large format print here, which turned out to be eight feet by six feet of this what was really a two and a quarter high Polaroid. And, of course the result was rather remarkable. Of course the Polaroid was not perfect, to say the least. And, on top of that it was scratched to hell. It'd been at the bottom of a pile and the scratches were all over it. But of course it became it's own beautiful object and I realized that by going through some of these Polaroids I could source Polaroids that not only were I hope quite strong images; you couldn't away from it the strength of the original image. If it was not a very good image, then it didn't really work. But if the image was strong and powerful, graphic and interesting. So the images ranged from a fashion shot of somebody running to a group of artificial flowers in a artificial vase in a Mexican restaurant that I'd taken a Polaroid of. So these things, suddenly, when they became enlarged, took on a beauty of their own. And we began doing prints of them and our gallery owner in Switzerland came by and saw them and absolutely loved them and immediately took one on his iPhone of me standing next to it, sent it to a collector in Switzerland, and he already, he sold it immediately. So, it was quite, people like these things. We had a very nice show in Zurich of these images. So, I tell this story about how really to keep aware, keep alive when you're looking at your own images, even if it's something that you had no intention when you took the picture many years ago. You know, a fashion shot in San Francisco and that you suddenly end up with it; or not suddenly, through a process of work end up with it as an exhibition in Zurich, a traveling exhibition and people actually handed over a lot of money. And we actually examined this even further, where for some reason I had kept the wrong side of the Polaroid; the wrapper. I had kept some of those, and I discovered it also in a drawer some of the original ones that I'd done of Kate Moss in Marrakech 25 years ago. I began looking at those, and we began scanning these, the negative side which, as you know, solarizes slightly in the light. We began blowing these up, and these sold immediately. So, it's not always, my initial energy in this is not always to be looking for something to sell and put up on a wall and sell it. Can I make money from this? But I have a great love of just printing and imagery like that, and it really, it truly, once again stays switched on. Don't switch off. And you can actually find local gems hidden in contact sheets and hidden in Polaroid drawers and so on. Very often, you can revisit some of your earlier work and find out that it's not quite as bad as you thought. (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.