Sha-Bang! Peter Hurley Explains the Value of Consistency

Peter Hurley has grown into a household name among photographers over the past 15 years while working from his studio in New York City. With a personality that keeps his clients on their toes and a vocabulary that is ever evolving, the leader of the Headshot Crew has some tips for you that may help you grow even faster with your photographic journey. 

In this video from B&H Photo, Hurley takes the stage at the Annual Depth of Field Conference for 2019 and discusses his beginnings and journey that has brought him to where he stands today. A favorite among headshot photographers, Hurley gives us some quick tips about body placement and the value of interacting with our subjects so they become more at ease to create work that resonates with their personalities. For branding and lifestyle work where the subject is the brand, the value of confidence and approachability in a headshot becomes increasingly valuable for a client, value that Hurley knows how to capture and explains in detail for the audience. 

The most valuable takeaway in this video is the explanation of growth through repetition and becoming consistent in your results. Showing future clientele that you can create a look with consistency and you can recreate your style with their brand in mind is what many commercial businesses and portrait clients are looking for, as well as what Hurley has built his business upon. If you’re looking to build a headshot business, a great place to start is with the first Fstoppers tutorial with Peter Hurley: "The Art Behind The Headshot". There’s also the newest Fstoppers tutorial with Peter Hurley: "Perfecting The Headshot," which expands on previous tutorials and gives a behind the scenes look and breakdown of creating the style you’re after. 

Let us know if there were any takeaways from the video that you'll use going forward.

JT Blenker's picture

JT Blenker, Cr. Photog., CPP is a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer who also teaches workshops throughout the USA focusing on landscape, nightscape, and portraiture. He is the Director of Communications at the Dallas PPA and is continuing his education currently in the pursuit of a Master Photographer degree.

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I actually didn't like Peter Hurley at all when I first learned about him, but the more I hear him talk, the more I come to appreciate what he has to say.

I think when you wade past the she-banginess, yeah there is good stuff.

My biggest problem has nothing to do with his photography. It's when he talks about business, he sounds like that sales guy that promises the world, and if questioned goes, "It could happen." For example, I just heard him say this today: he says give a stack of business cards to a client after a shoot, because they're so happy and excited afterward that they'll run out and pass them out to all their friends. And, they're going to be all happy because you gave them something afterward.

Getting a stack of someone's business cards is a gift?


No one has ever been thankful to receive another person's business card...ever...not once. At best, you give someone a stack of business cards, most go into the trash. If you're lucky, they just happen to know someone who is also looking at that time, and you get a single referral, which would've happened anyway if you did a great job in the first place.

It's to much head in the clouds talk when it comes to the business side of photography for me. His head shots are dope though.

There is research to back up his viewpoint. It’s called the “moment of delight” and it’s where word of mouth marketing has its best chance.

The problem with branding, although it could work for business, is that it really destroys any creativity in what you're doing, because you're always doing the same old crap. That applies to anything, not just photography.

You'll always be known for "that look", like Francesco Scavullo

Also, I'd rather someone be moved by what they see in what I've photographed. Even if they like only one shot and nothing else I've done, I've succeeded in reaching someone through my image. Is it good for business? On the surface, it would appear not...

Than I hope you didn't bother wading through the video. Hurley's entire shtick is headshots as a business and the process to make it a successful business.

To be sure, there's nothing wrong with being into photography for other reasons than business, but Hurley probably isn't the guy for that.

Yes, but there's always the danger of painting yourself into a corner, and that takes a lot to overcome as well. I'd rather be more flexible than branded.

If it's what you want, then it's not "painting yourself into a corner." I think part of the problem is you're trying to view everything through a prism that you feel is best for you. It may well be best for you, but it may not be best for others. What you call a "corner" others may view as a brand or style. Hurley has made quiet a lucrative one at that.

Also, many photographers are willing to do things to make money which then allows them to be able to do the things their heart is really in.

I'm all for painting oneself into a corner a (business) corner, as long as it's with a money brush... it's called finding and exploiting a niche! And Peter, post haircut, is killing it. Good on him.

I became a member of the Headshot Crew a couple of months ago and have learned a TON. My headshots have gotten a lot stronger, and my understanding of light has really improved. Highly recommend!