Fstoppers Original: Peter Hurley's The Art Behind The Headshot Is Live

     Peter Hurley: The Art Behind The Headshot is finally available. Peter Hurley, one of the most successful and well known headshot photographers of all time has teamed up with Fstoppers to produce a 4 hour tutorial exposing all of his tips and tricks that he has learned over the past 8 years as a professional photographer. This video touches on all aspects of running a successful photography business but Peter's main goal is to teach the average person about the subtleties of the human face so that you can make any human in front of your camera look interesting.

Peter Hurley spent the early part of his life traveling the world as a professional male model. During that time Peter was photographed by some of the top fashion photographers in the world. As a model Peter was forced to understand the subtle movements of his own face but he was also able to learn the technical side of photography from some of the best in the world. Peter moved to New York city and saw a nitch in the market that he thought he could fill. "I thought that if I could shoot actors headshots like commercial photographers shot celebrities I could be successful." Over the past 8 years Peter has become what many argue is the top headshot photographer in the world.


In this 4 hour tutorial Peter reveals everything that he uses to produce not just technically sound but "interesting" images day in and day out. Although this video does touch on a number of topics, this tutorials main focus is on coaching those in front of your camera into producing the best possible images. We have also decided to bring this "DVD" to you as a digital download so you can enjoy Peter's lessons in 720 HD resolution without having to have a Bluray player! This video is suggested for those who are already professional photographers who want to take their portraits to the next level.

  • How To Make Anyone Look Their Best
  • Starting Your Business From Scratch
  • Natural Light vs Studio Light
  • The Peter Hurley Signature Look
  • Shadowed Lighting For Men
  • Alternative Studio Lighting (Strobes)
  • Tethering
  • Camera Gear
  • Understanding The Human Face (Mouth, Eyes, Eyebrows, and Body Position)
  • Coaching and Facial Expression
  • Creating Different “Looks” During Each Session
  • Marketing
  • Retouching/Printing
  • Makeup/Hair
  • Clothing
  • Pricing


UPDATE: Want a free 20 minute peak of a small part of the DVD? Check out the Free Peter Hurley Session Video Here!

"I really enjoyed, and learned a lot by watching Peter interact with his subjects, which is really an art unto itself. He is fantastic at making his subjects feel relaxed and comfortable, which lets him draw expression and emotions out of his subjects that make a big difference. This alone was worth it for me."

--Scott Kelby, Author, The Digital Photography Book Series

"If you are a headshot or portrait photographer, this is a must-have DVD, and will enable you to immediately take better pictures." Read Entire Review Here

--Pye Jirsa, Author, SLR Lounge

"If you haven’t seen Peter’s DVD I highly suggest it mainly to watch how he interacts with his subjects. He’s a master at that!"

--Zack Arias, Photographer

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Previous comments
Lee Morris's picture

Thanks John we really appreciate it.

Deleted Account's picture


Anonymous's picture

And I just deposited a check for $800.... should I pay my bills... or buy this and make more $$$$... decisions, decisions. 

For those that purchased this video what's your impression and thoughts so far?

Patrick Hall's picture

ha I would pay your bills first but you should def check out the tutorial.  

Anonymous's picture

The suspense was killing me.. Purchased it, downloaded it... half way through it.  Great stuff!

Gustaveux's picture

So true, it will make it or break it for you.

Mike Mahoney's picture

Downloaded no problem... watched the whole thing. Very, very informative! As you said in the trailer, it covers stuff that I didn't focus on before. Fantastic job guys... and Peter is amazing! Thanks!

Lee Morris's picture

So happy to hear that you liked it Mike. Put it into practice and then watch it through again when you have some extra time. I've been watching it for months while we edited it and I am still picking up on stuff that was way over my head at first. 

Downloaded your video last night, watched it this morning.
Very nice job guys, very nice!

  I do have a few comments.  When you go to perterhurley.com/dvd, the
bottom of the screen shows a list of bullet points.  I would list
understanding the human face, coaching and facial expressions, creating
different looks first because that is what really sets this video apart from
the others that are on the market. And then, show that your video is
comprehensive and also touches on these other topics.  That bullet section
made me pause a bit because I don't need a lighting or business video and don't
want to spend too much time  on those other topics. But I trusted Lee and
Patrick and was not disappointed.

I watched the video on PC using Windows Media player. Attempting to stop the
video and play back the last 15 seconds results in a huge delay.. the program
just sits there for 30-40 seconds before it gets going again. I assume that
this doesn't happen on Apples.  I would run across this when Peter would
say "see the difference between these two shots?"  It would be
cool if you could show both images side by side....'cause I am an old man and
can be a bit slow. 

The part of the video where Peter edits the shots with the client are helpful.
Showing video of the computer monitor is ok,  but it really looks so much
better when you actually embed the image in the video. It is a small point,
maybe you could keep the audio on these portions, and not show so much of the
computer monitor and more of just the nice resolution photos.

All and all it is worth the $300 and I am glad I bought it. These issues are
VERY MINOR, so don't use them as an excuse not to buy the video.


Lee Morris's picture


Thank you so much for supporting us and taking the time to write this. I actually agree with you 100% on everything that you suggested. We may do a re-edit of this DVD and add information in the future and if we do, everyone that has purchased it will of course get it for free. I'm so glad you found the video worth your time and money. 

Patrick Hall's picture

The overall DVD was meant to be a complete intensive on Peter's business and photography.  So of course we had to include some of the business and marketing points because he's been successful there as well.  

I'm not sure why the pause happens but I think it's because I encoded it a bit higher than I could have.  It does that on my PC as well....not much we could do when we tried to make 2 files out of 4 hours

Patrick,  I think your mix of business and marketing points are perfect in the DVD. I think the issue is how to you get the point across to potential customers that video has unique content.

Again, great job.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,
This is exactly what I've been looking for !!! I'm so glad this video covers more than just camera/light settings...It gets into the "vibe" of getting a killer portrait. In my opinion way more important than anything else.
thanks again.


Thak you guys for putting this together!  I felt as if I were actually there as Peter's photography assistant or intern.  At this stage in my photography career, I feel the depth of  knowledge and information presented, as well as how it's presented is absolutely invaluable towards reaching that next level.  Thanks again Fstoppers for continuing to challenge my perspective and creativity.


Lance Burns's picture

First I wanted to say that I'm not a full time photographer. I do this on the side and I'm always looking to improve how I shoot. 

My main problem that I always seem to struggle with is the fact of how to get the "Look" out of the person that I'm shooting. I take nice pictures but that was it, just nice. Not amazing and it's not because I didn't understand the technical side. Set up lights and once you have them set, you are good to shoot. The problem was direction. When I saw the first video that fstoppers put up with Peter, I knew that his work was amazing. When I heard that you guys were making an instructional video of Peter's business, I was so interested in it.At first I was thinking about the $300 and saying like many of you out there that this was a lot of money. After a lot of thought, I said to myself that the team at Fstoppers have NEVER let me down. They always post videos and instructions that are so helpful so would they actual put something out there that was not worth it. If you are coming to the Fstoppers website on a regular basis, you know that this is true.I downloaded the video on Friday afternoon and by saturday at 12 I already finished watching it. I was SO DISAPPOINTED!!!! SO DISAPPOINTED THAT IT ENDED. I wanted more. Peter has tips that I have never thought about. There are photographers that teach in this industry that stand out. Zach Arias, Scott Kelby, Jasmine Star and now there is Peter Hurley.Here is the best statement that I can come up with. This DVD has Changed the way that I shoot forever. I will NEVER shoot the way that I did before. I will never pick up another magazine and not think about what I learned from this video.After this video was over, I sat and looked at myself in a mirror trying the things Peter suggested. There are things that I never noticed and it was looking at a different person.Is $300 worth changing your photography for a life time??? For me, it's worth every penny.


Patrick Hall's picture

You are too kind Lance.  It's been great getting responses like this and we are currently working to bring everyone more Peter in the future.  In the meantime, Peter does offer a full weekend Intensive where you can learn everything from him in his studio.  Peter's filming abilities aren't as good as ours.....but you can check out how much fun people are having at his Intensives here:  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/peter-hurley-photography#utm_campaign=www....

Peter Hurley's picture

This is exactly what I wanted each photographer to get out of the dvd.  When I started, direction was the one thing that I knew I needed to do to have my pictures stand out from the crowd.  I was a good photographer at that time, but I had a burning desire to be a great photographer.  I know it's the key that made the difference for me.  It means the world to me that you got it from this and it's changed the way you think about your photography.  Thanks for sharing and feel free to touch base with me anytime if you have any questions.  Best, Peter

Josh Wheaton's picture

Can someone clear up something for me?

How is he able to get such sharp images at 1/60 when using a 120mm lens and no strobe, just "hot" lights?

Also, what is the conversion from MF to 35mm where he says 120mm f/6.3 = 85mm f/1.2 (and how would you ever be able to shoot with strobes at f/1.2 without many ND filters)?

Peter Hurley's picture

Hey Josh!  I'm on a tripod at 1/60 sec and if you watch the DVD you'll here me say freeze and hold it like a bazillion times.  I teach the clients to be very still.  It's the only way I'll get a sharp image.  If you look on my site at the portfolio called "lil bit of laughter," you'll see the movement from the clients going into convulsions from laughter.  I'm at 200 ISO, so Kino's don't put out enough to give me more than that with a Hasselblad H3D22.  Not sure about the conversion, I've never worked with a DSLR.  I agree with you, I'm guessing it's around 85 f/1.2. 

Josh Wheaton's picture

Thanks for the reply. I downloaded and watched the DVD as soon as I got it until about 3AM. Great stuff. This is just a hobby for me but if I start generating some real income, I'll be sure to try and get into one of your workshops. Also has me eyeing a used H2D. I think I'm going to watch it again this weekend so it starts to become second nature. Thanks again - always great to see how a working pro does their thing.

Patrick Hall's picture

I think the reason the lens would need to be around 1.2 or 1.4 is because Peters lens is a micro and it focuses really close. Medium format produces a very shallow dof to begin with and add that with a macro lens and you can see how f6.3 wouldn't produce much room for error.

Most strobes have modeling lights that you could use to shoot like Peter or if you set your speed lights to 1/128 you could prob get low enough light. ND filters are a good idea or if you use the new pocket wizard flex/minis you could shoot faster than 1/250th to kill some light. Hope that helps

piet psch's picture

90% of your publications I really like, but this time, I have to get it from my chest, I have to say that he would never take a good picture of me drilling me like a soldier. The photomaker looks arrogant pointing his finger all the time. It's making me pissed off. It's not a 1 to 1 interaction between photman and subject. Just not nice. I'm really sorry to be negative. And I really asked myself 1000 times ; is it me???
Take care and go on ^_^

Peter Hurley's picture

I appreciate your input!  I teach something called the chameleon approach, I feel every client needs a something different and you need to change your direction to suit each subject.  That said, I probably wouldn't be drilling you like a soldier.  I do whatever it takes to get the shot and it's an intuitive thing that each photographer can develop for themselves.  Here's an example of Richard Avedon's approach to it, hope it clarifies this a bit.  http://lisawallerrogers.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/the-duke-and-duchess-of...

Anonymous's picture

you guys have done great i appreciate to craft and your contribution to the art. i was wondering if you lee or patrick teach photography on the side or would allow an intern to work with you ? i'm chris you can reach me a clrbackblocks@gmail.

Lee Morris's picture

Are you talking about the full 4 hour video or just the promo video? I can't seem to find your order.

piet psch's picture


John Godwin's picture

This is probably more your problem than Peter's. I think it's you. Most people who get head shots want to be drilled to get the look. Models don't like receiving as much direction because they trade on that ability, but an actor is getting head shots done with the very intention of receiving direction in a film. They better get used to being told what to do if they ever want to make it in The Business.

Derik Gutowski's picture

Man, I really would love to buy this, but I just can't justify it as a hobbyist.  I'll keep this on my short list of investments if I ever decide to go pro.

Regina Pagles's picture

Derik, I am just a hobbyist with no desire to go Pro and this training was worth every cent. I can't wait to watch it again. I now have confidence that even if I suck at taking pictures, I can make up for it in the skills I learned from Peter about interacting with the person I'm photographing. 90% therapist, 10% photographer. What would happen if you took a bunch of expensive lights, a high end camera, a huge studio, with a pro photographer and they didn't say a word to the person they were photographing? NOTHING. Interaction is the essence of what Peter teaches. And you HAVE to see him in action. I look forward to more collaborations between Lee, Patrick and Peter. Thank you!

piet psch's picture

no not at all
it really ocurred to me
have a wonderful day at the office ^_^

Patrick Hall's picture

Piet, have you watched the full DVD yet or just the promo?  It's unbelievable how positive the responses have been.  Infact, I think yours might be the only negative one I've heard (nothing wrong with that, we'd just like to know what you did not like about it).  

John Godwin's picture

Bought this yesterday. First part flew down, but the second part was extremely slow. I was very apprehensive about purchasing such an expensive download, and the only thing that pursuaded me was my interest in Peter, for that reason, I think such an expensive investment on my part should be met with a greater front-end investment by FStoppers in terms of bandwidth and delivery.

There's no 'packaging', it's just two generically named files. For $300, I don't think this is acceptable, and I think this is a stark contrast to Peter's website and brand, which seems choc-full of content. For $300, I'd have liked to at least see some paper work, or maybe some supplement shots of the studio, anything really-even a certificate saying I just blew a months bills on a file download.

The production standard of the DVD itself is excellent. Although for some reason, the video skips every 30 seconds or so in VLC, and this is the only video I've ever experienced this on, but it plays fine in Quicktime. Again, another small frustration, as I can't help wanting this to be absolutely perfect, given the amount I paid. The smaller niggles become large niggles when you factor in the overhead.

Video is absolutely packed with information; if you're new to headshots, you're going to come away from this feeling like a new photographer. For myself, having shot for a few years, but never having assisted, it was great to receive confirmation on a lot of things I already did to win an expression that was bookable. The inclusion of the shoot that didn't go very well was brilliantly honest, and for me, it was my favourite part. Looking at other photographer's videos, you'd be forgiven for thinking they never had a bad shoot in their lives. As a result of this, I'm now much less critical of myself after shooting more difficult clients. While I consider it my fault if I don't get the best out of a client, I will no longer blame myself if the client isn't immediately comfortable in front of the camera.

The whole pricing section was informative, and will really help anyone who is struggling to find their rate. Peter touches on something that a lot of photographers don't consider, and that is your comfort level. Sometimes, in fact most times, your prices should reflect what you're comfortable charging, rather than what you think you're worth, or what the next guy is charging for a similar service. The more comfortable you are with your pricing, the more honest you can be about your work. I've always charged slightly less so that I can feel like I'm offering better value. I don't really like giving people exactly what they paid for if I can give a little bit more.

Also, it's great that Peter didn't go into too much detail about the lighting, because this video was clearly aimed at people  who didn't need the help in that area. I was grateful for not having to skip through 30 minutes of Peter explaining what an f-stop is and why the lights should go where.

if I'm honest, I think this video is 1-2 hours longer than it should be. The second half of the DVD feels a bit like a confirmation or rehash of the first half in terms of Peter's technique. The last couple of shoots don't really contain anything extra.  The make-up section could've been cut entirely, as it didn't really give any information whatsoever. As a result, I think this video is ultimately $100-$150 more than it should be.

The price of a product often doesn't accurately reflect it's value, but value is different from worth. Would I value this "DVD" at $300? Absolutely no way in hell. Do I think it was worth paying the $300 to find this out for myself? Definitely.

What this video did for me was confirm the things I already did during shoots, as well as give me a few new angles to get the right expression. "The Squint" is going to be revelatory to anyone who hasn't figured it out yet.

Conclusion: If you offered me the chance to increase my photographic self-confidence for $300, I would bite your hand off, and that's exactly what this DVD did for me. In that respect it was worth every penny and I would recommend it to anyone.

The delivery of the product, however, was dismal. I have no physical material to show for, I only have two generically named video files that I'll have to rename if I ever want to have a chance of finding again, and for the money, I find that extremely disappointing. If you're going to consistently refer to it as a "DVD", then sell a DVD.


Patrick Hall's picture

I'm sorry you feel disappointed in the file naming and the lack of any 'physical material' although I'm not sure how to offer a physical product with a digital download.  The whole reason for the digital download was so that we could keep it High Def without requiring everyone to have a Bluray player (or the shipping and playback issues caused with delivering to other countries/regions).  

I'm also a bit lost on the lack of interest on the 2nd half.  Our pricing of the package wasn't based on the length (it would have been the same if it was 2 hours) but rather the amount of knowledge Peter has collected over his entire career.  Having filmed and edited the first FS video on Peter Hurley, I can say the magic he does still did not really set in until halfway through the production of this DVD.  I have to believe if it took me that long to really understand what he was doing then others will appreciate seeing him do it slightly differently over the course of 7 clients.  Each client had their own hangups and I think collectively they all offer something unique.  

As for the value of this being $300, your review is the only one that suggests it's not worth $300.  Infact so many people have said the information in this DVD was worth MORE than $300.  I guess it just depends on your own experience level and the overall confidence you have in your own work.  

Out of curiosity, what sort of physical item would make you happy?  A few high res images of each client shown in this tutorial?  A printable DVD label to burn your own bluray disks?  A thank you note from Fstoppers and Peter Hurley?  We may eventually make this a physical DVD down the road but for now the digital download was a much more practical way to deliver 4 hours of HD footage.

Just my thoughts on this one if i may say.
Making a Flash or DVD intro is something quite down to earth which i'm sure can be done by any dvd editor (and it's an easy Trade For DVD if he's into photography).
Making a menu with :
- Part 1 (with Title and a bit of text)
- Part 2 (with title and a bit of text)

Background : the 1st frames static photos used for the Trailer (white BG, Peter + title of DVD production)

That would just make it look as a complete bundled DVD or Flash/HTML player (example gry garness editing videos work like that, HTML menu to videos... looks great, and it's a simple HTML page)

It would take that impression some might have of 2 video files flogged in a folder if you see what i mean

I don't think the issue is in the physical thing even though we might all sometimes like it... it's a digital media, sold as such, and pricing goes with that media.

As i say, not yet purchased, and yes would like to purchase it somestage, but I can understand his point, and would love to see those kind of simple details done as it's really a day to 1/2 job.

It makes me always think of what Jeremy cowart once said about client/photographer relationship... ask ourselves... "What if they were right ?"

Thanks for reading :)

John Godwin's picture

Patrick, I just gave an honest review of a product I purchased. This isn't one of those instances where you take it personally and write a rebuttal. 

As Olivier said, the oversights I've mentioned could've mostly been fixed in half a day. It's not like I'm asking you to move a mountain. Expecting a quality sheen to a quality product is not really asking THAT much, is it?

I get that it's more practical, that's not my concern. It's more practical for me to take a single light to a photoshoot and hope the brief calls for shadows.

Dude, hi-res images from the shoots would've been a BRILLIANT idea. That would've been inspired. A printable DVD cover? Also a brilliant and easy idea. I'm glad that you may eventually offer this as a physical DVD, I'll put another $300 aside. Peter Hurley doesn't have to thank me, he was an astounding teacher, and I loved watching him work. His was a superlative performance in this DVD, and he continues to inspire me and my love for photography. My main gripes are editing, price, and delivery. I'm sure 90% of that was not his call.

If it makes any difference, I received an unusual amount of emails from strangers thanking me for writing such an objective review.

I'm just a customer giving an opinion, don't take it personally.



John Godwin's picture

To add to my review, there are some things I left out. Since this "DVD" isn't actually a DVD, but rather just a digital file, it makes it illegal to sell. If this was a DVD, you'd be able to just watch it, then under the copyright act, you'd be able to sell that copy under the "first sale" doctrine.

Since this is a digital file, you cannot sell your copy, and sending it to someone else counts as making a copy. So basically, once you've bought this, you're essentially stuck with it. Of course, this is a bit ambiguous, because this "DVD" comes with absolutely no license information.

Something to consider before purchasing.

Mark Gregory's picture

Dang!!! You've sold me on this video. I feel so defeated ^_^

I don't know if any of you know it, but why does Peter shoot at 1/60 ? In the dvd it looks like some of his pictures are blurred because of a small motion of the person... why doesn't he shoot at 125 or something? Does he then need to power up the lights so far that the models will be bothered too much?

John Godwin's picture

Kinoflo's aren't particularly powerful, so 1/60 is about the fastest you can expose before things start getting a bit dark.

A7man's picture

man i really wanna buy this DVD now, but 300$ is just not possible right now. Maybe in the future...!

the trailer is already great! (do I sense a little bit of apple inspiration xD ) 

I also would love to see it on iTunes… and make this one of the prizes in all your contests ;) 

Just purchased it for my organization... i'll finally be able to do proper headshots without goofy looks :). Looking forward to learning loads by watching it and practicing very soon... Would still love an answer or your thoughts on my post hereabove.

Thanks guys,

Ok guys, had to comment again... sorry for spamming. I went through the whole first video of the training. This is GREAT. it looks very intuitive, and simple. Now it's a question of putting it into practice. I'm going to watch Part 2 this evening and then revert to 1 again to make sure i've got it right.

Now i've seen the Training and not only the teaser, as a paying customer, i can come and feedback on the assets:

- Great information, structured and fun
- clear tips, valuable tricks of the trade
- not too much marketing but just a bit, fair game to get things running it's a win-win and it's good

- With the various sections being titled and separated as they are... it would make sense to cut each section into a smaller file size (therefore avoiding that slight lag described above)
- Making an HTML5 or SWF DVD intro (1/2 work) with just a headshot + title of section (coaching, pricing, lighting...) which when clicked leads to the corresponding video

Do you think we could have the yellow sheet with the expressions as a "gift" ? that looks like an awsome thing to have for our clients and i would love to have one of those :)

Thanks a lot and hope you don't mind my comments as i believe they are still quite constructive and would clearly add that professional touch to the product... as the content is clearly high level.



Jay Stebbins's picture

Hey, this is a great tutorial. I purchased a few days ago and feel very one of the $300 was very well spent. Peter, your technique rocks and you were entertaining to watch. I look forward to watching again almost as much as I look forward to shooting the next set of headshots. Thank you and fstoppers for putting together a really well done tutorial. 

Simply awesome and much needed...


Darryl's picture

I normally never post comments about training DVDs, And the only reason I am now is because 99% of talent agents, or Management are not wanting the "Perfect Head shot" the only ones who want great "Head Shots" are the "Talent themselves", The days of a Talent (Actor/Model/ or whatever) walking into an audition with a leather portfolio of beauty shots is dead!

Sorry but I know what a simple head shot can get a average model/actor.
I don't need to spend $300 to know what the Agencies want or what takes my clients to the next level.

Patrick Hall's picture

I mean if you know how to get your clients in the door then I completely agree, you don't need this DVD.  I don't think it's fair to say that the only people who want a perfect headshot are the talent themselves.  Casting directors are handed dozens if not hundreds of headshots a day and often it is only the headshot that will ever make them pick up the phone to call the talent in for a reading.  Peter doesn't recommend a "perfect" headshot that is over retouched and not genuine but rather a headshot that makes the agencies want to know more about the person. 

It might be easy for most photographers to make a sexy girl look sexy but how do you make her look approachable, skeptical, sweet, mysterious, or confident?  These are the looks that casting directors are looking for in a headshot.  So many headshots are blank and boring which ultimately will not do any good for both the photographer or the talent.  

Kim Bentsen's picture

Oh great, so after buying and watching this video twice, I can't stop noticing or looking for squinting eyes and lips slightly apart in portraits!

Great video. Unforgettable!

Patrick Hall's picture

Just wait until you start squinting and giving awkward lips to your friends at the bar....I can't look at myself the same in a mirror!

Stefan Choquette's picture

Kicked around the idea for a while and finally pulled the trigger around Christmas as a gift to myself. Its awesome. I'm a technically savvy guy but knew I was missing something in my photos besides lighting. This video got me out of my comfort zone behind the camera and made me start developing a vocabulary to talk with my subjects, and not only headshot models. And knowing where I can go with a business now that my portfolio is so much better is a great feeling. Also the private Facebook group is a great little community to critique each other and get pointers from Peter about once a week! Can't wait for another video from the FStoppers team!

Erik R Snchez Pulido's picture

Hello I'm a student and amateur photographer trying to become profesional and right now I can't pay for this amazing video, but I'm from Mexico and I would love the oportunity  of translate and write the subtitles in Spanish so you can reach more public. I will thank you if you consider this offer. Erik

Adventure Seeker's picture

I like his example book about squinting and face expressions. Has anyone come across examples we can use on-line like his book?

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