Review of Peter Hurley’s The Art Behind the Headshot
DVD Name: The Art Behind the Headshot
Subject: Headshot Photography
I hate reading reviews that are 10 pages long without a single hint of the overall conclusion until the very last paragraph. So, I typically like to start my reviews with the conclusion, and here it is:
This is going to sound biased, but there really is no other way to put it. Peter Hurley‘s the Art Behind the Headshot is one of the best instructional DVDs that I have ever seen and is worth every penny of its $300 price tag. And yes Peter, that’s why you get a nice big SLR Lounge Approved Stamp right on your forehead. If you shoot headshots, portraits or just people in general, this DVD is a no-brainer. Let me tell you why.
As the Senior Editor of SLR Lounge, I have seen a countless number of instructional DVDs and workshops. Most of which will never be mentioned on SLR Lounge simply because they are not worth mentioning.
There are two problems I frequently see with instructional products. The first being the lack of valuable information; that is information that can’t be found in a $20 book on Amazon. The second problem is the lack of direction and planning in creating the content. This leads to a “scatter brained” learning experience covering topic after unrelated topic. Most DVDs also have issues in sound and production value, which typically can be overlooked if content and direction is adequate. In a workshop, you can easily spend 8 hours talking without covering many topics, or any topic in an adequately detailed manner given the classroom style setting. Given that these photography DVDs are often several hundred dollars and workshops often in the thousands, the majority are simply a large waste of time and money.
The Fstoppers and Peter Hurley have created an instructional DVD that is virtually flawless from A-Z. The DVD is bursting with well planned instructional content. In fact, there is so much instructional content that it is hard for me to even summarize my favorite features, but let me try anyway.
In the DVD Peter does an incredible job guiding you and giving you insight on valuable topics such as Business, Gear, Software, Marketing, Retouching, Makeup, Clothing and Pricing. But, let’s be honest, this is all information that can easily be read in $10 books. Here is what makes this DVD so much more valuable than its $300 price tag and here is what you can’t get from a book:
1) 7 Shoots! – Watch Peter from start to finish as he guides the viewers through 7 headshot shoots with 3 guys and 4 girls, yeah SEVEN! In each one of these shoots Peter talks through lighting, coaching, shooting and even through the editing process where he shows what he’s looking for in his image selection process.
2) Client and Model Coaching – One thing you can’t ever learn from a book is how to interact with your clients. How do you communicate and get the best expressions out of your subjects? Being able to watch Peter coach and guide 7 subjects through this process is incredibly invaluable.
3) Lighting and Editing Discussion – With each client Peter discussed lighting and the effect he is trying to achieve. Then during the editing process he is not only discussing what works in terms of lighting, but also what works in terms of the pose and expression, what can be retouched and what can’t.
4) DVD vs Workshop – I always get asked by those making instructional products, as well as those wanting to buy instructional products or attend instructional classes, “What is better, buying the DVD or attending the workshop.” My answer is always the same, DVD! If you want an explanation as to why, then read my article on Book, DVD or Workshop. Which is Best and Why? The Art of the Headshot, given it’s 7 shoot line up and instructional content, covers 16 – 24 hours worth of workshop content in a 4 hour DVD which you can watch, pause, replay as much as you like. Not to mention, if this were a 2 or 3 day workshop it would probably cost around $1,500 and you would only be able to see it all once!
Is this product for you? Well let me be clear and tell you that this product is not priced or designed for amateurs and hobbyists. While Peter will guide you through his lighting setup, there is no hand holding throughout this process. If you don’t already understand camera technique and the basics of studio lighting, you will get lost quickly.
This DVD was designed for professional photographers or those that wish to become professional photographers who want to take their photos to the next level. For $300 you essentially get to learn first hand EXACTLY how Peter Hurley (one of the most successful headshot photographers in the world) runs his business. If you are a headshot or portrait photographer, this is a must-have DVD, and will enable you to immediately take better pictures. Were this a workshop, it would not only take 2-3 days, it would also cost 5x more and you wouldn’t be able to study it repeatedly whenever you want. This makes the $300 DVD an incredible value to those that are serious about their craft.