Albert Watson: Improving the Artistic Intent of Photography

Get your dose of inspiration from master photographer Albert Watson telling the story behind his colorful career and some of his iconic photos. 

One of the best ways to become inspired as a photographer is to follow the life and work of the most prolific and iconic photographers before us. Among these, of course, is fashion, celebrity, and fine art photographer Albert Watson, whose works have appeared on countless magazine covers and in major advertising campaigns for the biggest brands. He has also done countless talks and interviews about his life and work, the latest of which was during the Adobe MAX 2018 and was nothing short of inspiring. Watch after the jump!

Albert Watson is perhaps best known today for his iconic photo of Steve Jobs, but he is actually credited for hundreds of well-known images of influential personalities; movie stars, supermodels, rock stars, and political figures included. He remains one of those master photographers whose stories and words of wisdom never seem to grow old, and the video below, of his Adobe MAX 2018 talk, is a testament to that:

There are many gems and key takeaways from Watson’s talk, which he described as cramming 50 years of information into 20 minutes. These include how he switched from one discipline to another, beginning as a mathematician, then a chocolate tester and tasting, then picking up graphics design, and ending up with a passion for photography. Then, there’s also the big influence of graphics design and film in his diverse portfolio. The story behind his unforgettable photo of Alfred Hitchcock for the Christmas Issue of Harper’s Bazaar is also bound to be a favorite of many.

Film photographers of today will also especially be inspired with most of Watson’s photos, and how he was able to achieve exceptional work despite the limitations and technical challenges of film. Likewise, “hybrid photographers” who use both film and digital tools will be inspired to, in his own words, “be careful that you stay on top of the computer, that the computer doesn’t get on top of you that you just get sucked into special effects and so on.”

For those of us who feel stuck in our projects, taking a page off Watson’s creative pursuits could also be helpful. Passions and dreams kept him going, but like the rest of us, he also had insecurities and doubts about his work. To these, he responded by upping the ante and improving the artistic intent of the shots.

His advice to young photographers; plan their shoots better, as he observed that they don’t plan enough what they’re going to shoot. “Sometimes they’re too reliant on Photoshop,” he added. With regards to that, he reminds us that “the soul of the picture has to be in when you actually press the shutter the first time. So there should me more energy, more work, more creative thinking before you go out.”

Want more inspiring stuff from Albert Watson? He talks more about his career and iconic photographs here, and gives us a peek into how he works in a high-end portrait shoot here.


Screenshot image from the video by Adobe Creative Cloud