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Book Review: Albert Watson on Creating Photographs

The stories behind the iconic images of a master photographer
Photo of Albert Watson book

Albert Watson’s iconic fashion, celebrity and fine art images have graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Rolling Stone and Time, among many others. Major companies have enlisted his photographic talents for their ad campaigns, he has directed commercials, creating images for movie posters—the list is never ending.

But one has to wonder how Watson, whose first jobs including testing chocolates at a chocolate factory in Edinburgh, Scotland evolved into an artist creating some of the world’s best known photographs. That’s just one of the many topics that the newly published book, “Albert Watson: Creating Photographs,” part of Laurence King Publishing’s Masters of Photography series, explores.

Photo of Kate Moss by Albert Watson

And while we think you’ll enjoy reading Watson’s account of his journey through art school and moving to the United States more than our synopsis, one of the stories that stood out revolves around his photograph of Alfred Hitchcock. When Harper’s Bazaar contacted Watson and asked whether he had photographed any famous people before, Watson responded in a fake-it-till-you-make-it, “Yeah, one or two” even though he hadn’t.

Still, he got the assignment and while he was, of course, willing to photograph Hitchcock holding a platter with a holiday cooked goose (to accompany his goose recipe for the holiday issue of the magazine), Watson had a different idea. Why not have Hitchcock holding a plucked goose around the neck, as if he were choking the bird—it seemed “a bit more Hitchcock,” Watson explained.

Photo of Alfred Hitchcock by Albert Watson


The Editor-in-Chief loved the idea, the goose’s neck was adorned with Christmas decorations and the final image “really changed” Watson’s career. These little vignettes, combined with practical and technical advice and lots of photos pack this slender volume (128 pages).

Here’s one of my favorite Watson quotes from “Albert Watson: Creating Photographs”:

“To photographers who don’t enjoy the technical side, I often say that they have an advantage, because all of your concentration goes into the imagery.” – Albert Watson

While some of his advice is common sense for pro photographers (always come prepared), Watson provides tips and insights about his approach to photographing people, fashion, studio shots and landscapes that you won’t find elsewhere. At $19.99, you can’t afford not to buy this book.

Photo of Mick Jagger by Albert Watson


You can read about tips and techniques photographers can take from “Albert Watson: Creating Photographs,” in this story on our sister site, Digital Photo.

Check the price of “Albert Watson: Creating Photographs” on Amazon.

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