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Studio session with a model - set up 1

Lesson 11 from: Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

Studio session with a model - set up 1

Lesson 11 from: Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

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.


Class Trailer

Meet your Master


Learn from the journey


Using inspirations


Photography is stopping time


Albert's library of ideas


Tips on preparing for a portrait shoot


Setting up the studio


Understanding studio collaboration


The importance of casting and hair & make-up


Foreground studio set up


Studio session with a model - set up 1


Studio session with a model - set up 2


Studio session with a model - set up 3


Picking the best shot


Working with photoshop


Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock


The gigantic question... Colour or black and white?


One day with Kate Moss


Learn to have your ideas ready


Using Polariods


Creating beautiful photographs of hands


Controlling natural light


Shooting a monkey with a gun


Choosing your format


Composition and lens


Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye


Planning and ideas for a landscape shoot


Creating still life images


Photographing the Lost Diary


Shooting album covers


The Strip Search Project


Shooting Las Vegas landscapes


Photographing Breaunna


Balancing daylight, God bless America


Creating the Maroc Project


Creating the Maroc shoot


Photographing sand dunes


Photographing Moroccan children


Advice on making portraits


How to be alert to finding photographs


Making a portrait of Mike Tyson


Creating intense colour in a photograph


Portraits of rap stars and a Golden Boy


Photographing Jack Nicholson


Creating a portrait of David Cronenberg


How to light only using two $10 bulbs


Studio fashion set up 4


Studio session with a model. The geography of a face


Look inside the picture


Creating memorability in an image


Combining nudes and landscapes


A perfect print


The business side of things


Conclusion and farewell


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)

Ratings and Reviews

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.

Student Work