Passion and Politeness: The Keys to a Successful Photography Career

It’s not often that you find a person who is still just as passionate and involved in their career as they were when they started it four decades earlier. Most people retire or at least slow down with age, but photographer Albert Watson still maintains a full shooting and exhibition schedule and is easily one of the most talented and highly sought-after fashion and commercial photographers in the world.

In this short documentary by Phase One, Watson speaks to the secrets of his success and reveals the stories behind three of his most iconic images—his studio portraits of Alfred Hitchcock, Kate Moss, and Steve Jobs:

Watson spent seven years early in his career at a graphic design and photography school building a foundation for his career. After that, he worked his way up in the fashion sphere and began landing jobs with highly-acclaimed publications such as Vogue and Rolling Stone. Throughout his career, Watson created more than 100 Vogue covers alone and had the privilege of photographing some of the most famous and powerful people on the planet. He was even hired as the “official Royal photographer” for the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

He attributes his success not only to his educational background in the visual arts, but also to his deep passion for making great images and his commitment to shower all of his photography subjects with the utmost courtesy and respect, no matter their station.

“You should treat everybody well. It doesn’t matter if you’re photographing a porter in a market in Marrakesh or you’re photographing the king of Morocco. You have the same sympathetic approach to everybody. You be nice to everybody.”

Here are a few of Watson’s most famous images:

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Watson photographed Alfred Hitchcock for a story about Hitchcock’s famous cooked goose recipe.

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Watson thinks that Kate Moss looks like an elf in this image he took of her for Vogue Beauty.

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For this image, Watson told Steve Jobs, “Think about your next project and [how] some people might not let you do it.”

“I love photography. It’s a deep passion,” said Watson. “When you find something that you just love, then you’re very lucky in life to find that. When you have that kind of passion, that’s a gigantic help… I actually like working.”

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