Peter Hurley: The Art Behind The Headshot

Back in 2010, Fstoppers teamed up with a relatively unknown photographer  who was completely crushing the New York City headshot market. The resulting Fstoppers Original video was an instant hit among our readers (you can see it below). The problem with the video was that it barely scratched the surface of Peter's technique for getting his highly recognized headshots. At the time, Peter was already one of the most successful headshot photographers in the world, but he had never shared any of his secrets on how he captures people looking their best in front of his camera. With a little persuasion, we were able to get Peter to finally share all of the lighting tips and coaching techniques he had been holding so closely to his chest. 

Peter Hurley's The Art Behind the Headshot was history in the making as it was the first time Fstoppers ever produced an extended, professional digital tutorial, and it also was the first time Peter taught any of his techniques to the general public. Years later, Peter's career has reached unimaginable heights as he is now not only one of the top photographers in New York but he is also one of the most in demand instructors teaching photography. The Art Behind the Headshot has become on of the most popular tutorials ever produced by Fstoppers, and it continues to help photographers learn how to take better photos of people. Since 2010, Peter has produced two more tutorials including his intensive lighting workshop Illuminating the Face and his revamped coaching tutorial Perfecting the Headshot. If The Art Behind the Headshot captures Peter's techniques early in his teaching career, Perfecting the Headshot chronicles Peter's evolution as both a headshot photographer and photography instructor. 

Who Is Peter Hurley?

 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.

Learn how to create dynamic lighting for men

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 tutorial 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

*No refunds allowed for bundle deals. See Terms of Service for refund details.

UPDATE: Want a free 20 minute peek of a small part of the tutorial? Check out the Free Video below:

"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 tutorial, 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

Download this 4 hour tutorial
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Below we would like for photographers who have seen this tutorial to write there thoughts/reviews of it. If you have not yet seen it but have something to say please comment here:

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.

As asked and promised, I have now watched the new Peter Hurley HEADSHOT
DVD twice and want to offer my opinion...publicly. Sorry Peter, you
asked for it!

The "DVD" is actually a two file download so once you order, you can
enjoy instant gratification of watching the four hours of content. It's
also nice that you can load it on your phone or iPad for viewing on the
run. I don't personally know Peter, or the people at FStoppers, but I
enjoy what they do and in no way is this review tainted by prior
relationships. Personally, I find unbiased reviews extremely
helpful....just check my account!

Having never
watched anything specific to taking headshots, or having attended any
conferences on it, I thought it would be worth the investment as it's
something new for me. I wasn't disappointed.

What's cool is
that in the video, Peter is very approachable and friendly. It's as if
you're sitting there one-on-one with him and he's talking directly to
you. He's funny, full of knowledge, and can shoot killer headshots.
What I like best is that content was shot first then it was clearly
reviewed by him and the team, and then they interjected clips into it to
describe what he was doing and why. It's actually pretty
funny....especially a part where he makes up this BS movie casting to
draw subjects attention away from what he was doing. Queen Latifa in a
lesbian movie role with nudity, requiring flexibility? I was almost
rolling on the floor laughing, watching the woman reaction. I'm still
not convinced she believes he was kidding around....

This is an
excellent "DVD." Peter explains a lot and does it without holding
back. I learned more than expected as I got to see what he does with
many clients. He doesn't just shoot one!

So what DON'T I like
about it? Without sounding like too much of an A$$ kisser, there really
wasn't anything. Yeah, there were places where the video clips weren't
seemlessly blended and a shot or two of flare from window light, but
Lee Morris and Patrick Hall did an absolutely amazing job. I am simply
nit-picking as I have to say something critical, right? But, it was so jam packed with info that I didn't notice these things until the second viewing.

All-in-all, I love this purchase. Thank you Peter, Lee, and Patrick. This is an excellent investment.


Ove Ellemark's picture

Being a photographer this "DVD" (well not a DVD but two files) is a great source of tips and trix. The format of following Peter during some shoots is great, it gives you a hands on view and perspective of how to put the trix into action.

Peter shares the process in a very "easy to get" style, you have a lot of fun wathing it and that is the best way to learn. Overall a great product and a great 4 hours packed with stuff you want to know.

Anvay Nakade's picture

Well I am making my comment after watching the trailer. Even the trailer has a lot of info that Peter Hurley shares. What he is specific about is, if you dont have equipment like him, his point is bring/do something to make your own light. But DO observe facial expressions.

Beautiful job Lee Moris and Patrick Hall.

Also what was fascinating to me was, Peter Hurley himself was a model before. So its like he knows A to Z of facial and body expressions.

Ensofoto's picture

I scribbled a lot of notes down, and as noted above being able to watch on the iPad was great. 

Lots of good info in here (typing this as I squint - watch the DVD to find out why)

There's one shoot that was harder work for Peter as the model and I loved this for the insight into the way Peter kept working to get useful shots for the model. It was refreshingly honest and real.  Kudos to Peter and his model for putting this into the package - a lot of learning in that alone.

I deliberated for a few days after seeing the trailer.  Ultimately I decided to buy because:
1) I visit this site almost daily and feel I have benefited from and enjoyed all the original content.
2) For whatever reason I realized I had gone back and watched the original Peter Hurley vid several times.
3) One of my mentors is always beating the importance of dialog in to my head (also an Avedon fan).

I'm somewhere around 3 years in to portrait photography; I've done a few workshops, read several books and done a whole ton of online training.  Nonetheless, much of this content was brand new to me.  Eyebrows, eyes and lips, for instance... how simple and useful can you get?  I already put together an expression book to keep in my photo bag (and I really want that Brad Pitt progression!).  And I'm seriously considering investing in a durable portable mirror because I do a lot of random location work.

This thing is obviously a labor of love all around. On Peter's side; you can tell he really was craving the opportunity to teach.  Patrick and Lee (and whoever else) did a great job with the pacing in the edit.  There are some very minor (and totally forgivable) technical shooting issues but they didn't distract me from the content.  The sound is good throughout and it is overall a very enjoyable and engrossing experience on a 55" screen w/good sound system.

Next time (in the next few days) I will watch it with a notepad and a finger on the pause button.  And then I'm sure I'll watch it again 6 months down the road.  So I'm looking at a pretty solid 10+ hours of instruction for $300.  Even though $300 feels like a lot to spend on video instruction I have to say I've already gotten more out of it than a couple of workshops that took more time and cost more.

Fernando Mol's picture

Watching Peter using different sets of lighting and getting amazing shots is great. The dealing with clients tips, the makeup and wardrobe tips, the money tips... and I still have lots of things to decode. 

Maybe the most important is to figure it out what Peter actually see when he look into a picture. Of course, as he mention, there's the light, background, composition, poses, but most critical in my opinion is the ability to see which shot has gold in it. The shot that actually gets a response from us. 

I do video and work with actress and models. Sometimes it's hard, in commercials, to have all the acting preparation for somebody to give you a good performance. This video is giving me great tips to add to my toolbox and I can't wait to use them. As a matter of fact, I already got my SLR, went to shoot some friends and guess what? It works!

This is not the typical classroom video. This is like the having the experience of being there as an apprentice, watching Peter Hurley do it's magic.

Božidar Babić's picture

This 4 hours of tips and tricks are great. There is ONE thing you can not buy, and that is time.
By buying this "DVD-s/files" i actualy bought 10 years of Peters experiance. Now all i have to do is practice myself to perfection and once you see the path and you know where and how to get great results??? Whel it is all up to YOU!
The best way to learn what is Peter doing is to be there when he is doing it, and me being from Croatia this DVD-s alowed me to be there. Many thanks to Patrick, Lee and all the people from Fstoppers who helped make this video avaliable to photographers out side of US.
This is the best 300$ spent sicne i started shoting.

Best Regards


Unknown Photographer's picture

I thought I would add my full review of Peter's DVD!
But if you don't want to read it, just go ahead and buy it, the DVD is amazing!


Dean Capture's picture

I have no ambitions on being a headshot photographer. I shot actor headshots here in LA from '98 to 2001 and then moved on to shooting other things. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the interaction between the photographer and the subject. I agree with Peter wholeheartedly that it's the connection between the photog & subject that is where the magic really happens...and he demonstrates this over and over again in this training video. 

His lighting is very simple and easily duplicated. His rapport techniques are easily the most important part of this video. How he interacts with his subjects, the rapport that he builds between then and how he twists & turns their bodies to find their best angles are all valuable assets to this video. 

BRAVO to Peter for sharing his years of experience and knowledge and DOUBLE BRAVO to the F-Stoppers crew for doing a wonderful job with the shooting & editing. Very very nice and I highly recommend it for anyone who shoots people. Even with over 20 years of experience shooting people, I picked up a few nice tips that I'll add to my toolbox : )

BTW, I have owned: domain name since '98 when I first moved to Los Angeles. I don't shoot actor headshots anymore but I've kept this domain name. If anyone is interested in buying this domain, hit me up. I've had several very nice offers over the years but the offers were never what I thought that they should/could be. This is a *prime* domain name and deserves a prime offer : )

Keith Bradshaw's picture

Cool. It was like a crash course on photographing people. Many of these techniques can be used on any portrait shoot. Not just headshots.
I shot a medical staff after watching the video and found myself coaching people on how to hold their head, mouth and eyes with more confidence. Some of the things I knew all along were put into simple terms. Communication with subjects is much better.
The smallest movements in the eyes or mouth that can make the biggest difference in a photo. 
This takes it to a new level. Better than a new piece of gear!

Susan Roderick's picture

What if you could pose people so they aren't looking at your camera but looking through the camera, right at you? Not only right at you, but right at every other person who ever looks at the photo? Peter Hurley has this ability. The Art Behind the Headshot will change your photography. You won't walk away frustrated that you have so much to learn or frustrated that you didn't learn anything new. You'll walk away wanting to shoot the first person you see. 

Check out my full review on

Keith Jack's picture

Pulled the trigger on this and very happy with it, cheers Peter and Fstoppers :)

Kent Meister's picture

As someone who has been an actor in New York for 8 years and spent the past year and a half starting my own photography business, I've been familiar with Peter's work for a long time.  When I saw this DVD for pre-order, I didn't think twice.  Gotta say, I'm not in the least bit disappointed!  

Like a lot of people are saying on here, this video has changed the way I think about photography, specifically photographing people.  I've always tried to coach my actors when I do headshots, or a bride for her wedding portraits, but I've always been mostly concerned with the technical side of what I'm shooting.  Technique is important, for sure, but Peter does a great job of reminding us that it all means nothing if there is no feeling.  

Also, kudos to Lee and Patrick on making this a digital download.  I've watched most of this on my iPhone just about every time I'm on the subway.  Perfect if you are busy.  

I also really, really appreciated the business info that Peter has to impart on here.  A lot of these things were the exact things I've been struggling with.  I've been one of those guys handing out all of my hi-res files to clients and leaving it up to them to print---mostly because I had so many people demand it and got tired of resisting!  Peter's thoughts on workflow and how it directly relates to quality control in this area was great, something I'm definitely going to implement.  

I'm realizing this is a long post so I'll wrap it up!  Just wanted to say great job, Fstoppers!  

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