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Creating The Perfect Headshot Portrait | A Discussion With Peter Hurley

By Hanssie on December 12th 2015

peter-hurley-headshotIf the topic is headshots, 9 out of 10 photographers will think of Peter Hurley (I made that statistic up, so don’t quote me on it). Peter has so successfully branded himself in the photography industry that his name is synonymous with terms such as SHA-BANG and The Squinch. Larger than life, Peter’s charisma plays a large part in his success within the industry and among his clientele, which ranges from actors and models to businessmen and women in his New York studio.

From a love for sailing and training for the Olympic team to a career as a professional model and actor, Peter was inspired to pick up a camera by mentor Bruce Weber. Peter describes starting his business in his tiny New York apartment, photographing clients using the window light while his pregnant wife sat on the bed nearby and the journey photography has taken him. His new book, The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits (Voices That Matter) was recently released and is the ultimate guide to headshot portraits.


peter-hurley-1In the following hour plus long video given at the B&H Photo headquarters, Peter entertains and enlightens us about capturing successful headshots and how to light them properly. He talks about his philosophy when taking portraits/headshots as well as his techniques on how he directs, as well as his purpose as a photographer. You’ll also watch as Peter pulls someone from the audience and photographs them. It’s an entertaining hour well spent with a good amount of information to glean from the Headshot Master himself.

If you don’t have an hour to spare, B&H also provided a highlight reel that is a mere 17 minutes long, also found below.

The Headshot: A Discussion with Peter Hurley: Full Length

The Headshot: A Discussion with Peter Hurley: Highlight

To learn more about Peter’s book, check it out here: The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits (Voices That Matter)

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    I’ve seen numerous Peter Hurley instructional videos. He’s always informative, and also entertaining. Although I don’t do headshots, I gotta get his book!

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  2. Mike Frederick

    I have learned so much from Peter not only head shots, but with all my portrait shots. He has a great teaching style and you can just feel his love for the profession.

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  3. Joseph Ford

    I love the science behind creating a great head shot. How peter get the different personalities to relax and do their best.

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    • Hanssie

      Yes, Peter is so good at that. So much psychology involved.

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