Illuminating The Face

Lighting for Headshots and Portraits

With Peter Hurley

This tutorial is not a lesson in camera settings or ratios. Instead of teaching you to mimic light and camera settings, Peter teaches you to see light in a new and detailed way. After watching this tutorial you should be able to view images taken by other photographers and be able to understand exactly how that image was lit simply by looking at the shadow angle, depth, sharpness, falloff, and catch lights. Instead of teaching you to recreate Peter's shots, Peter will teach you how to sculpt the light and notice subtleties so that you can create your own unique images and personal style.

Download this 4 1/2 Hour Tutorial

An Obvious Progression From Peter Hurley's First Tutorial

In 2011 Fstoppers teamed up with Peter Hurley to produce the 4 hour video tutorial: The Art Behind The Headshot. Many people have claimed that The Art Behind The Headshot is the single best resource when it comes to coaching your subject and making any person in front of your camera look their best.

4.5 Hours Of Technical Lighting

3 years later Lee Morris and Patrick Hall from Fstoppers traveled back to NYC once again to create a completely unique 4.5 hour video tutorial named: Illuminating The Face. Peter's first tutorial only touched on the technical aspects of lighting but Illuminating The Face completely focuses on every detail that goes into lighting the human face.

4 camera angles

Filmed With 4 Cameras and Proportional Modeling Lights

Peter and the Fstoppers team spent 3 days planning and testing, and 6 days filming this detailed video. By using flash heads with proportional modeling lights, Peter is able to spend the first 3 hours shooting without strobe which allows you to clearly see every subtle lighting change he makes. The Fstoppers crew recorded the entire process with 4 cameras running simultaneously so that you will be able to see the shoot from every angle, including a video camera that mimics Peter's still camera. Every time Peter moves a light or changes a power setting, you will be able to see that change on the models face.

proportional modeling lights

Lighting Modifiers Tested On Male And Female Faces

Flattering light differs on men and woman and so it was important to have both a male and female model. By using the same models for the entire 6 day shoot, Peter is able to compare images side by side that were taken days apart. You will be able to study these models faces and by the end of the tutorial you will have a completely new outlook on lighting cast on the human face.

male vs female

Learn Different Genres Of Lighting

For the first 3 hours Peter goes over the basics of lighting and individual lighting modifiers. You will be able to compare hard light to umbrellas to softboxes to beauty dishes to ring flashes and other light shaping modifiers. Once you have an understanding of the available tools, Peter designs 6 completely different images using all of the modifiers at his disposal. By the end of this tutorial you should have a solid understanding of classic, beauty, fashion, and edgy lighting.

illuminating the face

Learn To See Light

This tutorial is not a lesson in camera settings or ratios. Instead of teaching you to mimic light and camera settings, Peter teaches you to see light in a new and detailed way. After watching this tutorial you should be able to view images taken by other photographers and be able to understand exactly how that image was lit simply by looking at the shadow angle, depth, sharpness, falloff, and catch lights. Instead of teaching you to recreate Peter's shots, Peter will teach you how to sculpt the light and notice subtleties so that you can create your own unique images and personal style.

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Awesome guys!! Looks fantastic!

Looks like another great FS hit!!!

Amazing... A million thanks to Peter Hurley and the Fstopper crew!

Each time you guys release a DVD/tutorial, I try to stop myself from buying the course… but how can I? It seems just so awesome! I'm probably gonna buy this one too!

if you could see my haooy face XDXD

thanks fstoppers crew!!!

if you could see my happy face!!! thanks fstoppers crew!!!

Ouch! I paid full price for the Art Behind The Headshot(and the Wedding DVD and the Architecture one). If I had only waited, I could have gotten the ABTH and the update to it(Lighting) for $400. Too bad this one isn't available to people who boat ABTH for $100 more...

Please use the comments on this page for reviews of this product only from those who have seen it. All other comments will be deleted.

I finished watching Peter's new video last night, "Illuminating the Face" and I have to say, the guy knows his stuff. We've all known that. But now we see the technical side of Peter. We've all seen him in action as that crazy-haired ball of energy and how he can pull expression from his subjects through coaching. This is the other side of Peter Hurley. A very methodical technician of light who chases after the little nuances in an image (what I've always considered the most difficult to master, the last 10%). This was a day 1 purchase for me and it's been one of the best tutorials I've seen. If you have his first DVD, this one is the perfect companion that covers everything technical about light.

Now where did I put that air conditioner light?

I just finished the first chapter and it was great. I have been shooting weddings for 5 years and still found valuable information. If you are looking to get better at lighting, or just starting to using it, then you should think about buying this DVD. of the best tutorials I've seen..Nothing more to say..Thank you very much Peter und FStoppers Team.

Price is kinda steep. I have Peter's first training DVD and it was wonderful.
If the price was closer to around $200.00 I would buy. Not to be cheap but $300 is a lot.


I just finished watching this tutorial and can safely say it is worth every penny. Shebang!

As a writer for FStoppers I had the privilege of seeing this tutorial before its release. I thought I would watch it chapter by chapter as time permits. Not possible. This was seriously so well put together, entertaining, and informative, that I found myself plastered to the screen watching the entire thing in one shot. I think more than anything I enjoyed the fact that we got to see Peter Hurley troubleshoot lighting problems as they happened. A lot of tutorials will omit that and simply show you the correct way to do things, whereas Peter Hurley takes the time to show you the problem he created, and then how he goes about solving it. I find that to be a rare insight into the mind of a working pro at the top of his game.

I have the Art Behind the Headshot - Has the Art Behind the Headshot video been updated since it was released in 2011 ?

Our tutorials are not updated as it would be a nightmare to implement and offer to people who bought it years ago. The first one deals with coaching your subjects while this one is all about studio lighting.

What exactly does Perfecting the Headshot deal with then? Where is the difference between The Art behind the Headshot and Perfecting the Headshot? I need to decide what I will buy, because I cant afford all the tutorials I want!

Is this DVD only for photographers who have studios and studio lighting?

It only focus on artificial studio lighting but the techniques can be taken out on location as well. Some setups you would ideally have a larger studio but many of the setups can be done in a 10x10' room. I am tempted to say that anyone willing to call themselves a "photographer" should have a deep understanding of studio lighting so in essence this teaches a good foundation on the very thing that makes someone a well rounded photographer.

I have Art Behind The Headshot and I think the material is quite good. The one really disappointing thing about it is a complete lack of any navigation. No chapters, no dividers, just two huge files that play from start to finish with no way to go back to interesting material or the many good tips Peter gives throughout. For a $300 video that's inexcusable, even $15 instructional videos have that. I wrote Peter a number of times, he said you folks were working on it, and, well, it never happened.

What's the layout of this video? are there chapter breaks, navigation, etc. this time?

Just finished watching the entirety - The amount of knowledge imparted in those few hours is staggering. There are plenty of books and tutorials that say "put your lights like this" - but this video tells a way more important story. The step by step building of a look - what to watch for, and a complete understanding of the light modifiers and all the different ways of using them. Two well lit thumbs up.

100 $ would be fine.

does this tutorial comes in hd quality? and can it be download or you can only watch it in dvd? thx

It is in 1080p so it will not play on a DVD but rather a Bluray if you decide to burn it to physical media. It's easy enough to stream to your smart TVs and mobile devices that I would recommend just keeping it as 1080 media files.

I would love to see just the Fashion section. Is there a way to get this broken out into individual vidoes or is it all of them only?

Unreal tutorial! Worth every penny and then some.

Hi, I have "The Art behind the Headshot". Since you are offering a discount to those who purchase both will you offer a discount to those who already have the first one?

We are offering the group sale to those who have bought the first tutorial within the last 60 days. If you purchased after Feb 1st let us know and we will let you purchase them both together for the same price.

Hi there, for your comment above, I have bought the first DVD 5 days before the second was launched. please advise how I can get the second DVD at the discounted bundle price.

Patrick, can you guys make a tutorial video on customer service and send it to Profoto?

What problem did you have? I just sent in a repair and had it back in about 7 days!


Will it have subtitles and translation?

No unfortunately it will not. We did translate the Art Behind the Headshot in Spanish but it wasn't a big enough hit to warrant doing that again. If you are interested in that version, you can find it at

I'm afraid it wasn't a hit because they forget to translate price tag ;) U$D300 is above minimum wage in Spanish language countries.

Well its too expensive for me since im unemployed, but can understand that you get what you pay for...and it should be accessable for everyone thats not willing to committ money for valuable time saving info.

It's a shame you feel disadvantaged because of your current situation. It does come across as expecting something for nothing and sadly the western world just doesn't operate that way. That said there are many tutorials on Youtube from Mark Wallace, Slanted Lens, etc, plus the many articles posted each day here on FStoppers all given for free. Illuminating the Face is very informative but FStoppers and Peter Hurley are not operating a public service and sadly sometimes payment is required, whether that be in the for of workshops, video tutorials or webinars.

Well its fine since i do not have a studio nor the funds for the lighting equipment. Just my Cannon 70 d . There so much insecurity in the photography industry for upcoming photographers. I know some that are so fearful of any collaboratopion for fear of competition. Like this one guy on my facebook, i was invited to work with him by the designer for whom he takes pictures her dresses- but he refused. He only wants to work alone despite the designer inviting me on the photo shoot. I can only classify someone like that as a selfish jerk. And its bad Karma. I didnt want to make trouble so i didnt complain. Im hoping just to get other opportunities since i believe in God and dont believe in forcing others against their will .

It's unfortunate some photographers take this attitude. Still; best advice I could give is get someone to shoot and spend $10 on some white chip boarding and use them as reflectors. And when you tell people how you did it, they'll be even more impressed than if you'd shot with a load of Profoto gear. :)

Great video but Patricks eyes looks a little alien like in the first clip! Thanks

When I purchased this I took the offer of Fstoppers' Peter Hurley bundle and bought 'The art behind the headshot' as well for what some say seem a hefty $450. Let's just forget the content here for a second. This is over 8 Hours of invaluable information given by an international Photographer at just $53 per hour, that you can watch again and again. The biggest thing I learnt was that Peter isn't just a great photographer but a person that understands people. I've had a few 1on1 consultations at $350 for 4 hours and not one has come close to what you will take from this video 'illuminating the face'.

Actually both videos go hand in hand, you really need both and you can use the information for studio and on location. If you want to get outside during that golden hour and use the sun as a kicker, this video will guide you in understanding what you need to do. I actually feel like Neo, when he wakes up and says "I know Kung Fu". I really feel like I know light, I now need to practice and shoot, and shoot and shoot some more.

However as negative this may sound; It's a waste of time buying this video if all you want to learn is the technical aspect of lighting a model because without knowing what to do with your subject you may as well shoot a mannequin. It's why I would recommend anyone considering buying this video, do yourself a favour and pay the extra $150 and get the Peter Hurley bundle.

Illuminating the Face will teach you how to take great photos no question and worth every cent. The art behind the headshot will teach how to bring those images to life...

is amazon going to sue peter hurley for the white background

A friend offerts me that dvd ... Seen all at once.

What can i say ? ... Just amazing. I enjoyed every bit of it. One of the best way to learn how to master light and make it ours.

Even if english is not my native tongue, this dvd was easy watching and learning :)

"Et voilà"

The Art Behind The Headshot was an awesome DVD. The first Tut that I watched.

I just finished this course right know, This is a best lighting course I ever seen.

Hello, I made the purchase and didn´t recieve any link for download the tutorial, very disapointed.
It has been more than i week now, and nobody answer my e-mails!!
Still waiting for a response!! day..will purchase these powerful dvds...great work guys..awesome

Great tutorial guys!

With zero knowledge about lighting and very little about photography in advance, I wasn't in your target group at all, but still I could follow everything easily.

I love the concept and the approach behind. You really gave that some thought, and it shows in the video!

I also love Peter focussing on the technique (not on the gear).
In fact his words "As long as you have something that does this (flash), you're good!" are among my favourites.

By the way, the comparative photos are so well made that even a complete newcomer like me can notice the little differences in the shadows almost every time.
(For the remaining ones, I will just watch again. ;-) )

As to the final 90 minutes I will try to "read Peter's mind" in order to understand the creation of the final shots backwards.

Oh yeah...both models are just fantastically good-looking and really are yet another reason to watch again!

In my honest opinion this is a high quality product which fulfilled great expectations:
I wanted to learn everything about lighting techniques quickly, starting from scratch and in an entertaining manner.

The video does deliver that and also keeps all the promises made in the trailer video.
So spending my money on training rather than equipment actually paid off.

Thanks guys!

Hi Peter,
I was thinking about start of dvd. When you show hard light and the strong of light with distance (about 20th minute).
When you are closest, light isnt the hardest, its not why you are not seeing ear. Its about angle what light see....then you said, if you go more far, you have softer shadows, now you can see lightened ear. Thats because angle is changed, not really strong of light. Angle works same as with lenses. I agree with that, fall of light is less with distance.
What you think?
Have a nice day ;)

Edit: Sorry, I was too hurry and wasnt see other part of later explain soft and hard shadows with distance of light, but I still think, you can mention angle in first lesson.

I am watching 2nd dvd and I must say, I know we can break rules if we know them and if something I like, its ok, but if you lectoring hard light from the side, where nose is casting shadow, shadow must be really close to nose (light is almost front) or it must blend with shadow on the cheek (rembrandt lighting). Shadow on half way, isnt look nice, because its destroying face features. But its only my opinion.

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