Watson received a BA in Graphic Design from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Scotland, in 1966 and an MA in Film from the Royal College of Art in London, England, in 1970.
Since 1970 Watson has been a freelance photographer, contributing fashion and beauty photography to Vogue magazine in the U.S., United Kingdom, France and Germany (since 1976), and Harper’s Bazaar (since 1974). he was the recipient of an IBM Traveling Fellowship in 1966. Watson's film Milian (1969) was shown at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1969.He has shot over 100 covers of Vogue around the world and 40 covers of Rolling Stone magazine since the mid-1970s. Photo District News named Watson one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time, along with Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, among others.
He has been a member of ASMP since 1972.