Perfecting the Headshot

With Peter Hurley

The Art Behind the Headshot was highly praised by the photography community, and it helped make Peter Hurley one of the top photography instructors in the world. The Art Behind the Headshot was released in 2011, and since then Peter has not only grown into an even more skilled headshot photographer, but he's also become a much better instructor. Over the past six years Peter has been perfecting his technique and how he teaches it. Welcome to Perfecting the Headshot!

This video tutorial includes
  • 10+ Hours of Content
  • 21 Video Files
  • 3 Full "Real World" Client Shoots
  • Instant Download
  • And much more
Download This 10+ Hour Tutorial

When Fstoppers first launched back in 2010, our goal was to share the secrets of successful photographers in a behind the scenes format. One of the first short videos we ever produced was by a relatively unknown but extremely talented headshot photographer named Peter Hurley. After realizing the genius behind Peter's coaching approach, Fstoppers decided to film a much longer, full length tutorial on Peter Hurley's headshot technique. The resulting educational series The Art Behind the Headshot was highly praised by the photography community, and it helped make Peter Hurley one of the top photography instructors in the world. The Art Behind the Headshot was released in 2011, and since then Peter has not only grown into an even more skilled headshot photographer, but he's also become a much better instructor. Over the past six years Peter has been perfecting his technique and how he teaches it. Welcome to Perfecting the Headshot!

Confidence with Approachability

If there is one main theme behind Peter's work, it is that every person needs to look both confident and approachable. The number one challenge any photographer has when photographing people is learning how to break them out of the all too common "deer in the headlights" look and make them look comfortable and engaging. In this tutorial Peter dives deep into the human psyche and explains why people almost always have apprehension and fear when looking into a camera. After learning what causes people to look "blank and out to lunch," Peter teaches you multiple techniques to make your subjects look more confident and attractive.

Strengthening facial features by directing the body position

 Removing Fear And Adding Confidence With Approachability 

Strengthening the Physical Features of the Face

Perhaps one of the most difficult skills to master as a photographer is directing people into a flattering pose or position. Before working with Peter, we used to believe that there were good and bad models and attractive and unattractive subjects. Peter turns that mentality upside down and puts every aspect of the image in the photographer's hands. Peter is a master at manipulating the body, and through creative angle positioning he can either hide or accentuate someone's facial features. Celebrities and celebrity photographers are masters at this skill but Peter shares the same techniques so that you too can strengthen jawlines, minimize weight, straighten out crooked noses, even out differences in eye size, improve posture, and hide perceived flaws like crooked teeth, large ears, double chins, and forehead wrinkles. By evaluating every client that comes through his door and applying his techniques, Peter can pull out the most amount of beauty from anyone who steps in front of his camera. It's pretty amazing to view the differences between first image from a session and one taken 10 minutes later when the client applies Peter's coaching techniques. In many cases the person's features look completely different and the overall final headshot is a much more pleasing portrait of the person. In this tutorial Peter teaches you everything he uses to make the smallest detail perfect so your clients can look their absolute best. 

Straighten A Nose With Just Lighting

Crafting Dramatic and Flattering Lighting

One of the most recognizable elements from a Peter Hurley headshot can be found in his lighting. Peter typically uses soft, flattering lighting for his women's portraits but often adds shadows and dramatic edge lighting to his men's headshots. Over the years Peter has evolved his signature "4 light beauty light setup" into a more efficient triangular setup, and he explains exactly where to place your lights so that you too can get the most flattering skin tones, shadow density, and general pop out of your own headshot lighting. Peter also teaches you how to chisel out jawlines by adding a kicker light as well as how to manipulate fill light to increase or decrease the overall shadow density in your male lighting setups.

Learn Peter's Soft, Flattering Lighting and His Men's Shadow Lighting

Peter is known for his large constant lights which provides soft, flattering lighting on any subject. However, if using constant lights is outside of your budget, Peter also shows you how you can achieve similar looking lighting with the use of small speedlights as well as by using 100% natural light. Whether using natural lights, hot lights, or strobes, or are shooting inside a studio or outside, this tutorial will teach you how to craft Peter's headshot lighting regardless of what gear you can afford. 

Learn Peter's Lighting with Speedlights, Natural Light, and Studio Strobes

Peter's Favorite Photography Gear

No tutorial would be complete without talking about photography gear. Over the years, Peter's gear has changed considerably. Back when he first worked with Fstoppers, Peter was known as the photographer who shot headshots with a Hasselblad medium format camera and a square array of Keno Flo fluorescent lights. These days Peter's setup is based around Canon DSLRs and his signature Westcott Flex Kit LED lights. Every piece of photography gear that Peter uses on a daily basis helps streamline the headshot process so that more time is spent taking photos and less time is wasted messing with gear. In this tutorial Peter will show you all the tools he uses to produce the consistent style for which he has become so well known. 

From tethering to lighting grip and everything inbetween

Hair, Makeup, and Facial Hair

Peter Hurley is very particular about women's hair and makeup in his headshots but most photographers tend to overlook these details. Peter answers all of the tough questions: Should it fall on the front shoulder, can you put it in a ponytail, should it be straightened or left curly, do you let it wrap to one side, how do you prevent it from covering an eye, how messy is too messy, should you use hairspray to contain flyaways, and how much styling should your hairstylist do when I client walks into your studio? Peter tackles all of these questions and shows you exactly what he likes and does not like when photographing a female headshot.

Find Out Which Of These Styles Peter Loves and Which He Hates

Peter also addresses some of the issues you might have when a male client wants to shoot both with a beard and freshly shaven. You can add a lot of value to your clients simply by not only allowing them to change their clothing and hair but by also shooting them with and without their facial hair.  When it comes to hair, most photographersleave it up to their clients but Peter shows you why you should take charge so that your clients look their absolute best.

Facial hair along with different backgrounds and clothing can have a dramatic effect

Peter's Workflow and Retouching with Damian Battinelli

One of the most important aspects of running a successful photography business is having a streamlined client workflow. Peter Hurley is often shooting 2-3 headshot sessions a day in his studio which leaves very little time to spend delivering specific images to his clients. In this tutorial you will learn how Peter has automated all of his image delivery, proofing, retouching, and printing so that he can spend more time taking photos and less time behind his computer. He walks you through his entire process including culling photos with his clients, backing up his files locally and remotely, creating and sharing online client proofing galleries, outsourcing his retouching, and seamlessly integrating his printing into his proofing gallery so that clients can purchase and download exactly what they need all without contacting Peter directly. 

Learn how Peter backups his images and manages his client's orders

For the first time ever, Peter has also teamed up with high end retoucher Damian Battinelli to show you the exact steps Peter takes to perfect every image that goes on his website. Together Peter and Damian talk about what they like and dislike in headshot retouching and why you shouldn't overly retouch any of your work. Damian then takes you into Photoshop where he walks you through three full edits as he teaches you some of his favorite retouching techniques he uses to retouch Peter's work.

High End Retoucher Damian Battinelli Shares 3 Full Retouches

This Download Includes:

  • 10 1/2 Hours of Content
  • 21 Video Files (14.5 GB, 1080p 23.98fps h.264 mp4 files)
  • The Peter Hurley Headshot System
  • Lighting for Women and Lighting for Men
  • Peter's Setup with Constant Lights, Strobes, and Natural Light
  • The Chameleon Approach and Sherlock Holmesing
  • Understanding the 4 Different Types of Clients
  • Minimizing Weight
  • Reducing Glare in Glasses
  • Picking Your Lens and Flattering Focal Lengths
  • Shooting Headshots Outside
  • Accentuating and Hiding Facial Features
  • Working with Children
  • Peter's Favorite Tips on Hair and Makeup
  • 3 Full "Real World" Client Shoots
  • Understanding the Business of the Headshot Market
  • Retouching Headshots with Damian Battinelli
  • Peter's Entire Client Proofing and Workflow

*All refunds are outlined in our terms of service.

The comments below are intended for those with questions about the tutorial and for reviews from those who have bought the tutorial.  All other comments will be deleted.  

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Once again, take my money now! Can't wait to grab this latest one!

Peter Hurley is da man! The Jerry Ghionis of headshots.

I have not looked all the way through the tutorials I have already purchased, and of course have not yet looked through this latest one, but ... I would find it more helpful to see him photograph normal people, the kind of people who show up to tradeshows, people who are not actors and models.

Regular people like this

Can anyone tell me, does he really get into that anywhere?

From the preview above, it looks like he does get a few everyday, average Joes to mode for him. He talks about lighting folks who tend to be larger in a way that's more flattering.

Peter had a lot of normal people come through his door while filming this tutorial. We even asked a girl from the restaurant downstairs to stop by. Peter has an entire lesson on making overweight people look their best by photographing a guy who used to weigh 350+ pounds but is now 250 pounds.

Hurley does a great job explaining that your goal isn't to take a world class image with anyone but rather it is simply to take the best photo that person has ever had taken of themselves. That is a very realistic goal and I feel many photographers under cut their own confidence by believing that the "average trade show" person has to look like a super model. That's simply not true and that shouldn't be the goal.

I think of the 17 people we photographed for this tutorial, maybe 8 were actors, entertainers, performers, etc. The others were hair stylists, musicians, photographers, former police, etc.

I can't answer your question but I checked out your link and like your env portraits. Maybe you could post a tutorial article on fstoppers? ;)

Steven, seems like you have a good business model there, and decent shots on your website why not join Peters Headshot Crew and aim to become the the Headshot Crews first Associate photographer in Las Vegas.
Looking at your website, some of the things that Peter coaches and critiques weekly could have helped some of your shots to be even better, even if you only shoot with them for a couple of minutes at your trade shows.
After you have watched all the way through the tutorials you have purchased, and maybe then buy this new one, ensure that you put all that learning into practice on the Headshot Crew. 28 Headshot photographers in Las Vegas, none of them have made Associate, (Only 84 out of 13,000+ registered have made Associate) Check it out

As Patrick Hall states above, the aim is to get the best headshot a person has ever had, but with a few more tweaks you can make them look rockstars

Andy, thank you, I have just committed more to Headshot Crew. I would love to get my work to Associate-level worthy. Thanks for the encouragement. I'll see you up there.

Don't know if it's just my browser, but the before/after shots above aren't working for me. There should be a headshot both right and left, right? But in all the above, either the left or the right one is cropped off.

yes, it sounds like your browser is not able to render the before and after plugin. Make sure your version of Chrome, firefox, IE, or Safari are up to date. If you are on an iphone or other iOs device it should def work there.

Thanks Patrick. I use Chrome on a PC and its the latest version (it's OCD about updating itself :-)

I just bought this new installment of the headshot series last night. I love Peter's teaching style and way of simplifying things.
I bought his original headshot video he released in 2010 and I recently also bought the Wedding Photography video, which you guys did a great job on.
They are all great and every time I download and watch the videos that FS has made it always brings my photography up a level.
Keep up the good work guys.
#SHABANG from deep in southern Louisiana.

Awesome! I can't wait to hear what you think of the new course compared to the first one. We have come a LONG way since that first tutorial. Keep rocking it down in LA

Ok, I've just gone through the first hour of your tutorial/course and it took an extra glass of wine for me to keep my b*** on the chair. So I'm writing this "under the influence" sort of speaking. Peter, you are my the "go to photography teacher" and I will buy your next course (no questions asked no reviews read) which I assume will be 20 hours long. You become Leo Tolstoy of presentation, this edition is the War and Peace of your teaching. This is exactly the same feeling I had had as I remember started reading the colossal masterpiece I've just mentioned. May I suggest you take some presentation classes/coaching. You need to be mindful of other people time. It is the 21st century. Time is the most valuable asset we possess these days. Please work on becoming a "zen" educator where you present relevant facts in no time. It really is not about the quantity. Don't get me wrong it is a promising beginning. Please take this as my sincere "in vino veritas" kind of review.

Hey Zoran. Thanks for the comment. We try to make our tutorials as concise as possible and remove any bit of info and run time that is not necessary. That being said, many of the sections in this tutorial are much more psychological in nature and Peter really wanted to dig deep into the mind set of both the person in front of your camera and the photographer taking the photos. So yes 10 hours is a long time for any tutorial but I feel confident saying that this tutorial covers more than anything Peter has ever taught while also being much shorter than some of the others where the cameras run non stop with no editing of the content (more of a live lecture style).

My hope is that we divided the content well enough that you can skip the topics that don't interest you while also being able to quickly reference the topics that do interest you. In the end, our goal is to always give the most value for the money while also covering everything the instructors want to teach.

Is this a good fit for someone who is just starting in Headshots or is the first one something where we should start?

I'm sure we are going to get this question a lot so I'll try to explain it best here. The first tutorial is still very useful but Perfecting the Headshot is by far more thorough and complete. Peter has had 7 years to "perfect" his teaching style and is much more aware of even the tricks he used years ago. Because this tutorial sort of replaces The Art Behind the Headshot, we have lowered the price of the first tutorial and even bundled it together for $99 if you buy the Art Behind the Headshot together with Perfecting the Headshot.

But yes, this tutorial is perfect even for someone who has never shot headshots.

I've just finished watching this course, and for those on the fence....$299 if you're strapped for cash is a fair risk to take - you don't know if it will be worth it and I totally get that. I took the risk. Man! This is not a tutorial, it's the entirety of Peter's working practices in video form. It's astoundingly good. The level of detail that this goes to is so far and above anything else I've watched that I'm struggling to take it all in - it must have taken an age to put together. If you are serious about your headshot career, this is the best go-to course that I've come across so far, by a considerable margin and when you've watched it, you, like me, will be slightly embarrassed that you only paid $299 for it. Go for it!

Thanks for the review Stephen. Curious if you watched the first tutorial or if this is your first time learning from Peter. If the later, welcome to a whole new way of thinking about photography.

I'm glad you appreciate the deeper level of thinking that is required with Peter's process. On the surface is seems so easy to take headshots (and to be honest they aren't THAT hard) but to nail everything down the way Peter does really does take years of practice. Anyone can get cool lighting on their subject's face but making people give the camera energy is something much harder to master.

Hey Patrick. This is the first tutorial I've bought in regard to Peter although I've seen a bunch of stuff in the public domain already (YouTube etc) so he's well known to me. But as I mention above, I don't think I was ready for the sheer amount of stuff that's revealed in this. And you're right, the human factor insights were fascinating and informative. Also, for me, the nitty gritty detail pricing, proofing and delivery workflow were equally important - something that many (dare I say most?) tutorials leave out completely.

In my opinion, there were areas of weakness too, though, where the course could be improved.

First, the section on speedlights was good but concentrated on the men's lighting only. I feel that many people (me included) use speedlights and that whole area was skimmed over just a little. Fair enough - Peter doesn't use them.

The second was the retouching. That was very weak in my opinion. Arguably a whole separate course could be dedicated to that side of things though, so it's not really a complaint.

Now the only issue is, I need to go back to watch the whole damn thing again....see what I can remember and what I've forgotten!!

I haven't purchased a tutorial here through Fstoppers, but this has me incredibly intrigued. What is the distribution method? I mean. Can I only watch the videos if I'm logged into Fstoppers and streaming? Can I or do I have to download the entire thing? (in one go?) (in what ever chunk I'd like?) And my biggest question is, can I essentially re-watch it down the road? If I get through the whole thing now, and in a year decide to revisit a section or the entire thing?


When you purchase any of our tutorials you will get to download all of the files and you can copy them onto any of your devices and watch them as many times as you like.

Great video so far but his comment about mirrorless camera thinking many don't have viewfinders was beyond stupid and shows a huge lack of knowledge of what's going on in the photography world!

Hi, can someone list all the files that are included in this tutorial? Will there be RAW files, presets or diagram just like the ones in Joey Wright's Swimwear? Thanks in advance!


Why not support Arabic

Is there any section specific to Corporate headshots by any chance or is it mentioned during any of the videos?

Yes he has a section on corporate headshots and marketing towards that since Peter is doing more corporate stuff now than actors.

One more question on this video. Patrick has already explained how this tutorial replaces "The Art Behind..." but are the techniques in "Illuminating the Face" also covered here and if so, which of the two videos gives more detail on these techniques? Many thanks!!

Illuminating The Face is mostly a lighting tutorial. This is mostly a coaching/business tutorial.

Thanks, Lee, that clears it up.

What is going on? I want to purchase this product but this msg keeps poping up
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Try another browser. If that doesn’t work email us with a screen shot or a video of what is happening to

Im 50% done and as someone who does portrait photography and not headshots, I think this is very help. The most useful parts so far is the interaction with techniques applied to get the model to get you an expression.

Just from reading the remaining titles, I love that there is a hair lesson but I REALLY REALLY wish there was a makeup lesson as well.

Most of what Peter does has to do with expression and positioning of people's body and facial features. It sounds simple but it really does make 80% of the photograph interesting with the remaining 20% being clothing, hair, makeup, and lighting.

I thought we did cover a section on makeup? I know Peter doesn't go into detail about a lot of makeup because he likes his headshot makeup to be very subtle but I remember a few pointers on makeup.

Glad you are enjoy the tutorial!

Hi, purchased these tutorials while in hospital. Couldn't dowmload the files there and can't find the email with your download links anymore
Paypal email was

No problem, I just reactivated your links. Next time make sure you email us directly since we don't always catch these comments right away

I'm kind of disappointed. He mentions he shoots with the Profotos, but he doesn't go over those. And unfortunately, I can't find a place where I can rent his kit and have it delivered. So that sucks. Also, He does move fast on set up and I have studio lighting experience. Maybe hard for someone who has no experience.

What do you mean he doesn't go over Profotos? He shoots exclusively with them the entire time. You can rent Profoto here:

No, he shoots with the LED lights the majority of the time. He does a short demo on Speedlites, but the only thing he used the Profotos for is when he was lighting the background. Minus the time he was showing us the difference between the Profotos and the LED lights on the eye catchlights, but he didn't go over any setup on those.

I’m sorry you’re right. I thought this was his illuminating the face tutorial. In perfecting the headshot he teaches what he does day in and out and that is he shoots all of his portraits with constant lights but he does teach you how you can replicate his lighting with strobes or speedlights. Strip boxes will produce the same lighting and catchlights as led strip lights.

What kind of file is the download ? Can I brun it on DVD to watch on TV ?

You could. It’s a digital download. It will be higher res if you watch it on tv through something like an Apple TV or a laptop plugged in though.

I'm at a crossroads. I'd like to purchase all three of these tutorials, however, I'm operating on a budget. I'd like to improve my coaching skills and purchase the commercial wedding photography tutorial. Any suggestions on which bundle out of the three to grab?

If you want to make your money shooting weddings I'd go for the wedding tutorial, but if you are shooting individuals, there is nothing better than Peter Hurley's techniques to give yourself and your subjects the confidence to get the best photographs out every shoot.

How well can Hurley's third video, 'Perfecting the Headshot', replace Hurley's prior two videos, 'The Art Behind the Headshot' and ''Illuminating the Face'?

I’d say it pretty much replaces the art behind the headshot only because it’s newer and much more thorough. People still love the original though. Illuminating the Face is something totally different that isn’t covered much in either of the other two.

Thank you.

I have just purchased Peter's book - GREAT. Now I wanted to purchase his tutorial. However, when I added the discount code (SPRINGFS) it was rejected, "expired" - how can it be expired when it is still visible on FS website?

Could i get eng sub for this tutorials?

I purchased the Peter Hurley tutorial on 7/11/2019. I expected to be able to immediately get access to the download or its instructions, but have received no notice, instructions, or confirmation. The charge hit my card on 7/11. I searched for a customer service number on the FStoppers site and found none. I contacted the number listed in the charge detail on my Amex account. I have left two messages there on the FStoppers voice mail and have not received a reply. I am very disappointed and have no choice but to dispute the charges for non-receipt of product.

Deborah, I'm sorry you're having trouble and I'll be happy to fix this for you. When you purchased the tutorial, you entered the email address: . The links to download the tutorial were sent instantly to that email with customer service information. Is that the correct email? Make sure you check your spam folder. If it's correct but you don't have the email, you can email me directly at and I'll send you new links.

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