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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Previous comments

This guy shares knowledge not just information. It is worth it !

This guy shares knowledge not just information. It is worth it !     

James Bartolozzi's picture

What Peter Hurley does well is take excellent Headshots. We all know this.

I can tell you I was a bit hesitant about spending money on another photography DVD, but am happy to report that The Art Behind the Headshot is well worth every penny you spend, and highly entertaining to boot. This DVD is jam packed with information ranging from equipment, to being a therapist on set, to the business side of photography. Watching this DVD, it was nice to learn how much information I already knew, but what was more impressive was seeing how much I didn't know. There are so many tips and tricks in here, just one alone is worth the price of admission. 

Peter Hurley teaches you something no one ever has before…the human face, and how to get the best look from your subjects. Imagine being able to convey a powerful expression through a photograph. You'll learn that here! Pulling a great expression from your subject should not be as painful as pulling teeth. We're photographers people, not dentists!

As an aspiring headshot photographer, I found the information on this DVD to be absolutely invaluable. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to become a headshot photographer, or just up their game to the next level.

The Art Behind the Headshot - Peter HurleyAll I can say is, wow. This DVD is not only informative, but inspiring as well. What I learned in this DVD changed the quality of my images overnight and made me a confident headshot photographer who now feels comfortable charging higher rates.My photography literally went from decent to awesome (if I don't say so myself haha). I always knew that it was important to direct the client's expression, but what I didn't know was exactly how to do it. What's cool about this DVD is that for about the price I charge for one headshot session, I was able to learn the skills Peter Hurley has been developing over the course of 10 years. I've been shooting headshots for only a year and a half, but my work has increased substantially in quality very quickly because I've been desperate to learn the top tips and techniques that most headshot photographers try to hide as best as they can. When I saw this DVD for sale, I knew I had to get it.I was inspired a long time ago when I initially saw the first F-Stoppers video done on Peter Hurley. It was called “Peter Hurley Exposes the Perfect Headshot.” After seeing it, I learned how important it was to direct the client's expression to bring out powerful and confident looks. I realized that casting directors don't care how beautiful the lighting is or how blurry the background is. What they care about is whether an actor looks like they can act.It's funny, because while I was still a student at NYU, one of my professors brought in a pile of headshots and showed them to our class. She was trying to teach us what to look for in headshots before bringing in actors to audition. She showed us a series of shots one by one and asked if we thought the person would be a good actor. As she showed us more and more images, I began to realize that the people who look like they could act were actually the ones who showed the most confidence in their face. They didn't look like they were trying too hard, but they also didn't look like they were scared of the camera. They looked extremely confident, and they had this "look" like they were already famous."The Art Behind the Headshot" is a DVD that explains exactly how a photographer can bring these expressions out in their clients, in turn getting them as many auditions and bookings as possible. I've only had the DVD for about a week and a half, but literally overnight the quality of my photography changed. First, using some of the lighting techniques Hurley shows in the video, I learned how to make use of my already-owned lights to make the quality of my images look much better. Then, based off the secrets of how to direct the clients, I suddenly felt much more confident as a photographer. I could get them awesome images now 95% of the time, as opposed to only 10% of the time.The clients who walk into my studio no longer think of me as a young 22-year-old who is just starting a photography business. They now look at me as someone professional and skilled, who can really get them excellent headshots. I've already raised my rates and am getting more calls, and agents are referring actors to me. All within a week and a half of watching this video.I'm excited to watch the video again and again, because each time that I look at it I notice new tips and insights and exactly how to bring out the best looks. I honestly can't believe that Peter Hurley is giving this information away for only $300. The value of this DVD could easily be priced at over $2000 in my opinion. Even at that, I still think that it would be worth it.Remember, $300 is only a quarter of the price that Peter Hurley charges for a headshot session. Don't even think about it. If you're a headshot photographer and you want to be able to charge a lot more for your photos, buy this DVD right now.Martin Bentsen

Jaime Bermudez's picture

I will be honest, I didn't know Peter Hurley before purchasing his DVD, or the fstoppers crew before a few months ago. I got a link from and watched the amazing video they made about Peter's new DVD. My reaction was instant, the video finished, and I purchased the DVD thinking to myself, this is gold my friend, I need to get this DVD before anyone does, I need to be ahead of the game with my photography and I got a really good vibe from just watching the presentation video. I just learned a few tricks with the promotional DVD! Common! this is a win win situation! Congratulations to the fstoppers guys that put together the promotional video and all the best to Peter Hurley. During 4 hours, he hides nothing, he welcomes you into his studio, he let you see how he works, the amount of information he conveys in 4 hours is so large that you have to watch the DVD over and over to get it! He is 100% legit,  this DVD opened my mind and made me feel more comfortable behind the camera.  Peter Hurley is approachable, a great speaker, goes to the point, enjoys what he does, and makes you build confidence towards obtaining a great headshot. I was so stock after learning from him that I decided to start making more headshots and less family and children photographs. Thanks!

Peter's DVD does what no book, blog post, or short video can do -- it immerses you in the art of headshot photography. Those other learning tools provide concepts, diagrams, images, tips, and advice -- all good stuff -- but after I watched the DVD I realized how much I had been missing. Having the DVD is like getting a chance to apprentice with a master to learn not just the big things, but the myriad of subtle things that are just as important, perhaps more important. Peter will be the first to tell you it's not about the lights, or the camera, or how big your studio is. It's about you and how you interact with your subject. Nothing else I have seen or read made that so clear or demonstrated it so well. Is this a good investment of your time and money? Absolutely!

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“Peter Hurley:The Art Behind the
Headshot”   ...The Review Intensive:

The old saying “Those who
and those who can't...teach.” was probably first asserted through
sarcastic tones of cavalier-ism by someone threatened by the
willingness of another to explain the tricks of the trade to those
desiring to learn. One thing however, is for sure; whomever it was
that coined that wasn't Peter Hurley.

From the opening minute to the final
minute of this four hour DVD, (and trust me; we'll get to that
initialism shortly) Peter Hurley dispels that myth by explaining
and/or teaching every aspect of his business and the steps he took to
become one of the leading headshot photographers in the industry.

“The Art Behind the Headshot”
created and produced by's Lee Morris and Patrick Hall,

is an excellent, in-depth and
inspirational video tutorial, designed specifically to help you
create and capture the most compelling and visually interesting,
people-imagery possible. In other words...if you have any interest in
photographing people (for any reason) then this video is for you!

By the way, before I go any further;
allow me to set the record straight for those who insist on
complaining about the fact that this video is not (yet) on a physical
disc despite the other fact that Peter, Lee and Patrick have each
explained in detail why this is the case.

The project was originally intended to
be a physical DVD (Digital Video Disc) with cool graphics on a box
and everything but in an effort to eliminate the extra cost and time
to produce, inventory, handle and ship such a product, it was agreed
that a downloadable version would be best. Additionally, Peter, Lee
and Patrick have also explained (several times) that there may be
future updates with additional information and footage that can be
added to the download and offered for free to those who already
purchased the original. Plus, they have still not completely ruled
out the possibility of producing a physical disc sometime down the

So, why don't we all refer to this as a
Digital Video Download!! or video for short?

The quality of the video is very high
and the style is almost editorial/documentary at times but the beauty
of their concept is that Peter will stop and speak directly into the
camera whenever he feels there is something of educational value
regardless of how small or even unexpected the point may seem. Doing
this allows him to work as he would on any given day without having
to script or stage a "realistic" scenario thus offering the
viewer better insight into an actual photographer/client experience
or situation. An interesting and much appreciated aspect to this was
the inclusion of a session with a less than natural client. A less
secure photographer would not have included this on his/her video but
I found this particular session to be one of the most educational of

In total, there are 7 actual client
sessions each offering various opportunities for Peter to demonstrate
techniques, tips and work-arounds. In between the actual sessions are
insightful and often humorous monologues of Peter describing the
previous session or preparing you for what to specifically pay
attention to in the upcoming session.

Peter shows you his methods by simply
allowing you to listen-in on his actual conversations with the
clients while watching the evolution of actual photo sessions. This
is where the value of the video becomes impressive. As a professional
photographer and perhaps more importantly, as a value-minded
consumer living through a difficult economy; I am very selective
about where I spend my money. There are many tutorials and workshops
that I have not purchased simply because I can not (at the moment
anyway) justify the price to immediate value ratio for my work/career
but "The Art Behind the Headshot" is education that I can't
afford to NOT purchase. Workshops range from $99.00 to possibly a few
thousand dollars and almost all of them walk you through rehearsed
and staged situations designed to re-create a photo session and
that's great but consider this... watching a professional
photographer working with a paying client and actually applying the
techniques they speak of in real time brings a whole new level of
understanding and value to your purchase price!

Peter not only shows you how he works;
he also explains (quite sincerely I may add) what he did in order to
get to that point. He describes how he started with ideas early on in
his career and what he learned from those mistakes or successes that
helped him hone his skills of today. Throughout the video Peter
discusses the details of how he runs his business, client
interaction, makeup, clothing, self promotion, lighting, retouching
and more. Most importantly, he explains why he makes those decisions
and how you can use them to begin or improve your own business. Make
no mistake, this video is geared towards being a better professional
headshot photographer but...the video has as much value for those of
you just starting to work with paying clients as it does for those of
you who are ready to produce your own instructional DVD. The key as
you will see throughout the tutorial is YOU! Not the lens, not the
light, not the model...YOU and your ability to create the dynamics
that produce intriguing imagery. Jay Maisal once answered the
question "How do I take more interesting photographs?" with
his answer..."become a more interesting person".

I found Peter's discussions of the
above mentioned topics to be very insightful and genuine and I place
great value on those facts. I also have a tremendous respect for him
being a working pro and still being secure and generous enough to
share his personal tricks. Peter's style of shooting is very laid
back and he seems to be having a great time while working. So much so
in fact, that you may not realize just how much information he's
actually giving you until you watch it a second, third or even a
fourth time...and trust me; you will. This video will be one of your
favorite references as well as one of your favorite motivators.

I would give the video top marks in all
categories with very few criticisms. I thoroughly enjoyed the music
of the original Fstopper's 10 min bio on Peter Hurley and was hoping
there would be a little more of that flavor in the background of
"The Art Behind the Headshot" not continuously of course
but at least a little music during the client sessions. I thought
the clients would bring in there own tunes to help them relax...and
maybe they did but perhaps for production sake, it was turned off.

Also, I think it would have been
interesting to see some of the first minutes of the client's arrival.
The meet and greet so to speak, hearing some of the initial
discussion of what the client expects and/or wants along with Peter
explaining his wants/needs from them. Hard to find anything negative
to say...other than, it seemed a little too short! I could have
easily enjoyed another 2 hours!

So, if you're tired of all the angst of
professional photographers claiming to bleed passion for their art
and you're interested in seeing how someone actually makes all that
work look easy (not to mention fun) then here's your chance. "The
Art Behind the Headshot" will inspire you and show you the
skills of understanding and directing clients to not only find but
bring out their best expressions and in the process, make you a
better people photographer. No model or peace of equipment will ever
improve your skills. Get educated. Get out and practice. Get this

"Peter Hurley: The Art Behind the
Headshot" ....looks like it really is possible to do...AND

One final note here:

For those of you concerned about the
price; consider this:

When purchasing the video through
PayPal you can choose the "Bill Me Later" option and "Enjoy
6 months to pay on purchases of $99+ ".


Patrick Hall's picture

you just won the award of longest review ever!  Glad you enjoyed it

I have watched Peter's video twice through now and have this to say:

Buy.  It.  Now. 


-For $300, Peter is almost giving it away.  I feel he could charge far more for and it would still be a steal. 
-I went pro about 2 years ago and have been working as a headshot, portrait and event photographer in NYC ever since.  I wish this video existed when I started as it would have saved me tons of time, effort and trial and error. 
-This video is NOT just for headshots.  If you shoot human beings in any capacity, this is a must see.
-The format of the video rocks.  It's not just a boring 'how to' video.  You actually get to watch Peter working during actual sessions.  He also offers interspersed commentary throughout the video. 
-I don't know of any other product that you could watch and literally go out the next day and start building your own photo business no matter where you are in the world.  Peter teaches you how to be resourceful and work with what you have. 
-Lastly, Peter walks the walk.  He cares about his clients and fellow photographers and constantly checks in with those of us that bought the video for feedback.  He's one of the most consistent and interactive professionals I know who has helped to improve the quality of my work vastly. 

Michael Cinquino

Jack's picture

I guess I'll be in the minority here and make that dreaded flop flop flop of a somewhat flat tire.

I have watched the DVD twice, and it feels to me that the main message here; The method isn't so much a technique or style really.. It's just Peter, being Peter.

So unless your able to create and extrovert from an introvert from within, that is to say 'your style' isn't that of an outgoing chatty guy, this isn't really going to work for you.

Personally, in all my years of shooting, meeting shooters, and working with others. It's a rare breed that can completely change the actual CORE style in which they appraoch people or their work. In a perfect world, wouldn't it be great to have some snazzy clientele, in a NY NY studio, getting a pretty good buck for doing what we all love to do...  Shoot.

I know that may change my style a tad !

But reality is that Mr or Mrs. shooter sitting in Rockton Ill. might not be able to actually put into place this high impact energy Peter places into making head shots of John Q Public.

On the other side of the coin, I could relate to him and his methods quite easily. Speaking for myself personally. And in some small way have always used this chatty, no rush, yakky approach to shooting heads and people. But he does have style and a great personality. I found it entertaining and nice to see someone is actually making a living ( and a dam good one ) doing his craft. We should all be as lucky.

For people with little personal skills and have been looking for that 'extra piece' of something missing in their work. This just could be that missing slice or pie.

Either way, it was nice work, And as far as a value goes, I would rate it a 5 or 6 out of 10.

Patrick Hall's picture

I think at the end of the day, if you are trying to up your photography to the next level, you really have to become an extrovert and push your communication skills to the next level.  I can't imagine anyone who can't communicate well with other could ever get to the next level they aspire.  

What a attitude! WOW! Force your self to smile and soon you find something to lough about. Pretend you are a extroverted photographer and you will become one. It is your choise. If nothing helps to wake you up cick you in your a... and run 10 miles at 6:00AM. You can change everything in your life if you cick you self in your ... hard enough. If this video doesn't turn on anything in you, sorry but then maybe nothing can help. I watched this video 100 times in the car on the way to the studio just because it extroverts and it activates a few megawatts emotional energy that I can use to wake up my clients too. It changes my mood completely. Like going to a concert at the end of a hard day and come out as a other person. That is what musicans and artist are producing. They change the mood of the people and if they are good they do this tremendiously. And you as photographer are a artist who extroverts people in front of you and than photograph them. That is part of your art and craft otherwise you are a week (poeple) photographer. A 3.000€ canon L lens doesn't help you in this regard. But then crying about the digital cameras that kills professional photographers business hahahaha

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Best money I've spent. I did not buy this for the lighting info. A pro can reverse engineer that. I did not buy this for the the F/stops and shutter speeds. Really who cares? It's like asking a cook how much spice they use. I bought this for the human interaction between photographer and client. Much of the info on the DVD pertains to things you are subconsciously aware of, yet had not REALLY thought about. For me, there were many "light bulb" moments. Ah ha! Yes. I get it! The micro adjustments of the pose, turtling, the eye squint, etc. This is stuff you can use every time you shoot somebody. Very good value. Buy it.

I don't really what's interesting in that video, pictures are just average.

I've seen much better work from a lot of other photographer.
It's amazing to see that good promotion can do...

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