“It doesn’t matter if you’re photographing a porter in a market in Marrakech or you’re photographing the king of Morocco. You have the same sympathetic approach to everybody. You have to be nice to everybody, basically.” -Albert Watson
Commercial & fashion blend
Albert Watson began his storied career in 1970. His work has had him making still life product-type photos of the King Tutankhamen artifacts, beauty shots of Kate Moss, landscapes of Las Vegas as well as portraits of icons Alfred Hitchcock and Steve Jobs. Photo District News (PDN) named him one of the 20 most influential photographers along with Richard Avedon and Irving Penn.
Watson has created photographs for hundreds of advertising campaigns. The Gap, Chanel, Prada, Levi’s and Revlon are a few of the companies assigning him projects. He has made movie posters too — “Kill Bill” and “Memories of a Geisha” are two of them. He has directed over 100 TV commercials.
Watson got his start in Los Angeles when photography was still his hobby. An art director at Max Factor offered him a test shoot. The company bought 2 photos from it. His style soon brought him work from fashion magazines from GQ. Mademoiselle and Harper’s Bazaar. He won a Grammy for the cover of the Mason Proffit album “Come and Gone.” He got work from Vogue, he moved to New York and his career skyrocketed.
Art & books
Watson has spent significant time working with museums on exhibitions of his work in portraiture and fashion along with travel images and others. Some of his subjects include a snake charmer in Morocco, a dominatrix in Las Vegas and dramatic landscapes of the mountains on the Isle of Skye in his native Scotland. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian, The Scottish Parliament, the Multimedia Art Museum and others.
His work has appeared in group shows at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the International Center of Photography in New York and the Brooklyn Museum.
He has published five books: “Cyclops,” “Maroc,” “Albert Watson,” “UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives” and “Kaos.”
Shepard to Jobs
Albert Watson has photographed icons around the world. One of them was Alan Shepard’s spacesuit he wore on the moon. Another is his portrait of Steve Jobs.
Awards & honors
Watson has received a Lucie Award, a Grammy, a Hasselblad Masters Award, the Centenary Medal and a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Photographic Society. Albert Watson was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015.
Excerpted from Albert Watson’s biography.
More influential photographers are at On Photography on Photofocus.