New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Tips & Tricks

You Should Be Taking More Self-Portraits. Peter Hurley Tells Us Why.

By Hanssie on November 5th 2015

Selfies. I can’t even type the word without an inner eye roll. The term conjures up duck faces, Kardashians, and people in their underwear photographing themselves in their bathroom mirrors. Now, I’ll admit that I’ve taken a few selfies in my day, and that’s actually a good thing, according to master Headshot photographer, Peter Hurley.



Wait, what? Selfies, or self-portraits, are actually a good exercise for photographers to practice. In the following video from CreativeLive, Peter explains all the things you can learn when taking self-portraits, which is why he encourages them. Peter talks about how he sets up his camera with the self-timer and lights in the studio, and takes his own portraits. He then examines how he moves his face and what it looks like when he does. He closes by saying that a portrait photographer’s job is to be the mirror for your clients and what better way than to understand how the face looks with certain movements.

Many of us mirror poses so our clients can know how to sit, how to stand, etc., but even the subtle nuances of facial movement should be mirrored for our clients as well. This is how Peter has learned techniques like the popular, “Squinch” and how to angle the jawline for a strong headshot that he is so well known for. This is an excerpt from Peter’s “The Headshot” master class on CreativeLive.

Peter Hurley on the Importance of Self Portraits

If you’re looking for more education on portrait photography, CreativeLive is having a Portrait Photography sale! For this week only, CreativeLive is offering 25% off select portrait photography classes. Check them out and learn how to take amazing portraits from some amazing instructors now!

CreativeLive-SaleOffer: 25% off select portrait photography classes
Valid: 11/5/15

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

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

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Stephen Glass

    Couldn’t agree more. I think self portraits are a must for portrait artist of all types. If you do your own retouching retouching yourself is an education as well. Cam Ranger and the new cell phone apps i.e. the Nikon app that controls my D750 are a huge help.

    | |
  2. Jimmy Joe Shnabadu

    I use WiFi and the EOS Remote app on a tablet/phone and tap the shutter button of the app with my toe. :)

    That allows me to avoid the timer and have my hands in the shot (if doing more than head and shoulders) without a remote in one hand.

    Agreed on what can be learned from self portraits. Although, I’d have to say that there is a distinct difference between a “selfie” and a self portrait. If the camera is in one of your hands when the shot is captured, it’s a selfie. If you’ve set up a tripod and lighting, it’s a portrait, even if it’s a self portrait.

    | |
  3. Ralph Hightower

    Peter Hurley is always entertaining and informative. I had to take a head shot of myself for a profile for Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. I set my wife’s point and shoot camera on the tripod and set the self timer; her camera was the only digital in the household. It took a number of back and forth before I was satisfied. I later got a remote for the motor drives of my Canon A-1 and F-1N, but film is involved with those. Finally, I bought a 5D III kit that had a remote release with it. I’d have to say that remote release are better than self timers.

    | |
  4. Justin Haugen

    I’ve come to those same conclusions about my face that I had no idea about. I didn’t know I was making these microexpressions that drive me crazy to see on video, or that my lip curled to one side when I spoke. So funny.

    | |
  5. Peter Nord

    Love watching Peter for his enthusiasm and of course the tips.

    | |