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

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
$299.99
$199.99
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68 Comments

Fstoppers...Peter Hurley. Thank you! This DVD was soooo energizing. After reading all of the comments here, I decided to buy it. I didn't want it to take me weeks to decide because I knew I would always make an excuse about the money or prioritize something else.

First of all, Peter has a great personality which keeps 4 hours of information from getting stale. The way the DVD was laid out made great sense too. Having multiple examples with different levels of people or people with different strengths and weaknesses really reinforced all of the lessons. It left me energized. I'm glad the lighting was discussed BUT it's the strength of this is the directing. Peter teaches you how to direct the model and how to get the best results with anyone. 

I feel as though that I'm a pretty solid beauty photographer but headshots and portraits take a lot more work. Even with beauty it helps to be able to know how a model's face will photograph at different angles and how to talk to them. The one thing that resonated here is that clients expect YOU, the photographer, to get the best shot out of them and Peter shows you how to do that. I'm a little sad the DVD is over but so glad that I bought it. Can't wait to join the FB group.

Claude's picture

A friend of mine bought it and I had the chance to see it.

I waited four hours of my time watching it.
In my opinion it's not worth $300, you can find a lot of BTS video on youtube for free.

I'm glad so many people got a lot out of this DVD but, as a seasoned photographer, i'm sorry to say, i didn't really learn much at all except that Peter loves being Peter.  Everything he says is pretty obvious if you know anything about people and/or photographing people.  If you've been photographing people for a year or so, i'd think twice before spending 300 bucks on this. I'm sure this post will be deleted but I think it only fair to post a non jumping up and down response.

I would have really liked to see him work with people who weren't completely gorgeous or incredibly photogenic to begin with and see THOSE results.  Photographing beautiful people beautifully is not that impressive. Photographing people who are not 'naturals' and/or are not perfect looking is far more interesting and challenging. 
I appreciated his energy and enthusiasm but also found his thoughts/views/interactions with/on women ('they go from cute to bitch and then a few things in between' or something similar) rather (insultingly) limited and even a wee bit patronizing.  But then again, he seems to think all women are either 'sweet and innocent', 'bitches' and/or 'hotties' and nothing in between so what's there to say. I'm sure that will solicit some sort of derogatory snide remark on his part but come on... you don't see him treating men that way.His 'i shoot the best headshots in the world' was also quite ridiculous.  It's obvious he cracks himself up but he's also alienating anyone watching this. I may be one of the few viewers who was not charmed by his sarcasm and cockyness but it seems that all his headshots look the same. He says 'it's not about the photographer' but ALL HIS HEADSHOTS LOOK THE SAME.  Squinty eyes, white background, similar body language... Again, just my opinion.I think this DVD would be great for people who aspire to be photographers and have little to no experience behind a camera and/or interacting with people but for anyone with any experience behind the lens this was not worth anything near the $300 he prides himself on charging.  

Not impressed, I don't think it's worth the price...

Tim's picture

Currently if you are a NAPP member you can get $50 off. However, before seriously plunking down your money (I unfortunately paid the full $300), it looked like he was doing a Kelby Training series. Seriously, get it for under $200 plus all the other photogs on there. Another thing, if you search for his turtling short (I think it was on Kelby's blog) it is a much more thorough explanation than with these DVDS. I'm still trying to determine if he had no hard models to shoot or if he was being sarcastic when he was saying that throughout the photo shoots. So yeah, overall I'm a bit disappointed I spent that much on this. 

the banner ad is really poor taste.  you have a girl with her ass in the air advertising headshots?  off topic dont you think?

 If you have never shot people, have little experience with coaching shots, positioning or lighting you may find the instruction helpful.  Peter does let his success come through with a bit of ego and at times you get the sense he's playing it up for the cameras. I don't think that this is a totally negative area because as he would likely tell you success is not bred by the weak. Determination and hard work is what built his client list.  I commend him for that.  I found my self wanting more information about the tools he uses, the specs, the software ect...  He gives you some useful tips and info on the lighting that is critical to shooting these types of photos.  He probably could have shaved an hour off this video or switched some of the time spent reviewing pics to giving more specifics.  The price point is inflated and should within $150.00 IMO.  Go in on the cost with someone.  I came away with ideas and information and I feel most will.  I give it 3.5 stars of a possible 5. 

nhavietxanh.com's picture

In my experience, if you ever say that to your model "hold that smile", the genuine expression is dead the split second you finish the sentence.

beautiful work Peter. im so thankful for your work. 

Peter is the best headshot photographer in the world, why not.... he knows his stuff. But i have to say, these guys are the most innovative headshots photographers www.headshotsinmotion.com

Good DVD. I learned quite a bit, and will try some of his techniques. Also, he has the perfect personality of a headshot photographer: funny, personable, and witty...it's like John C. Reilly shooting your pictures.

Buy the DVD or keep money to buy photography gear ?

Patrick Hall's picture

It depends, you obviously need some gear, but after the basics I think education that gains you more clients is more helpful than spending more money on tools.

Where does Peter live. I'd be interesting in writing a story about this concept for my NY Acting Scene column.