Mastering Headshot Photography By Peter Hurley

1 hr 39 min
Difficulty Difficulty Difficulty

Mastering Headshot Photography isn’t about the technical aspects of lighting or gear, instead it’s all about learning how to pull expression out of your subject. It all comes down to the communication between you and your subject, and you’re the one responsible for making it happen. Join Peter in his studio while he works one-on-one with a variety of different subjects and teaches you his favorite tips and techniques for connecting with your clients, building their confidence in front of the camera, and bringing out authentic expression.

This is a must-see course for any portrait photographer!

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Join Peter Hurley in his studio as he discusses the most important aspects of headshot photography.
If you can capture the essence of somebody it takes the portrait to a whole new level.
You need to develop your own routine to help you provide a flow to your sessions.
If you are an actor or model then 100% of your branding is your image. Your job as a photographer is to help the subject put their best foot forward.
We want headshots that make people feel or think. There are certain words that can help elicit expressions from your subjects.
The photographer is responsible for the expression. Don't let the person go if you can't get the expression.
Cameras are powerful, and when you are behind the camera you have all the power.
Sitting down to review the shots with the client is an important part of the process.
There is no stopping to this. You may master bits and pieces, but you are always learning and always growing.
Think about making a game plan and coming up with go-to things to do and say to make people open up in front of the camera.
Profile photo of Peter Hurley

Meet your instructor

Peter Hurley


Peter is a New York and Los Angeles based photographer specializing in advertising and commercial work, including portraiture, fashion, beauty, editorial, actor's headshots, events and corporate photography. "Let me give you an idea of the round about way I picked up a camera and found a new love. It and most of my life revolve aroun...

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  1. Profile photo of Eric Eric

    Great course. I took out heaps of tips for my portrait photography.

  2. Profile photo of

    I love this course!! Wow, Peter this is awesome. Thank you for doing this.

    1. Profile photo of

      To the moderator, I’m referring to the Mastering the Headshot course. I bought his book on this also.

  3. Profile photo of Ian Ian

    Watched this terrific video course just after reading the book. Filled in a lot of detail and is an extremely effective and enjoyable way to understand what the book is describing. If I could have this much fun I may even start to do some headshots myself. Congrats.

  4. Profile photo of Michael Michael

    Anyone experiencing “Error Loading Playlist: Error loading file”??? I can’t watch the videos for this course due to this error :-(

  5. Profile photo of Paul Hanseen Paul Hanseen

    I thought the courses are no charge for members

  6. Profile photo of jbadry jbadry

    Excellent course. I really enjoyed it.

  7. Profile photo of bcobbs bcobbs

    This was an awesome video series!!!!!! Far better than the BS that was on Creative Live!!!!!!!

  8. Profile photo of Tomas Tyner Tomas Tyner

    Thanks Peter – laughing while learning :-)

  9. Profile photo of KPeterson16 KPeterson16

    Fantastic course Peter, thank you!!

  10. Profile photo of johphotography johphotography

    I re watched the video with Joseph a couple times. I absolutely loved the interaction and results. Great video

  11. Profile photo of

    Peter, Thank you for going all out and sharing your learnings with us!!

  12. Profile photo of flemshans flemshans

    So much great info scattered in these clips. I’ve learned so much! Can’t freaking wait for my next photo-session!

  13. Profile photo of Tyson Tyson

    One of the best non-technical courses I’ve seen in a long time. This is really going to help me. I don’t normally shoot headshots (or portraiture in general), but a close friend is going into real estate and needs some. She’s VERY camera shy and has very little confidence about how she looks (even though she’s actually gorgeous). She was very critical about… well… nothing. She rejected a lot of great shots. Both the interaction lessons for loosening the subject up and directing their “choices” of good headshots, and the tips about posing to accentuate the jawline, shoulders, etc, are going to be invaluable when we shoot again in a couple days. Many thanks for this course!!

  14. Profile photo of

    Awesome class! I love the interaction between the client and peter. He is a fun guy! but the girl that came back, really stood out to me. Peter wasn’t happy, but was extremely professional about it. Great work!

  15. Profile photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith

    This was an amazing course!

  16. Profile photo of ohmandd ohmandd

    Very Cool! Peter Hurley definitely shows what I imagine the perfect photo shoot goes; and, he does it every time. Love this class! Thank you Scott K. and Peter.

  17. Profile photo of mirvine mirvine

    Reading the comments on this course made me want to sign up. So happy that I did ! The instructor has so much energy and we really get to feel the interactions necessary to make great portrait photos. Thanks a lot ! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  18. Profile photo of walt342 walt342

    Thank you for this course! It brought out clearly how important it is to build a connection with the subject(s) of your shoot to make them look the best they can be. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  19. Profile photo of alanjsmith93 alanjsmith93

    Peter Hurley is unreal! His shoots were fun, pictures amazing and the information he provided along with his techniques can be used in many different situations. This is a must watch for all photographers. Thank you for doing this series. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  20. Profile photo of michaelvincent64 michaelvincent64

    Brilliant classroom! Learnt so much about relationship, rapport and directing the subject. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  21. Profile photo of Joanne Gentile Joanne Gentile

    I LOVED Peter’s insight into capturing the essence of the person. I could feel every emotion that he was feeling trying to get the “shot”. FANTASTIC!! Thanks!!
    That is the photographer I want to be!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  22. Profile photo of rbrong rbrong

    This was an excellent course. I really learned a lot. Peter Hurley is crazy good! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  23. Profile photo of makiomilano makiomilano

    Another favorite and I’ll watch it again for sure.

  24. Profile photo of Gilles Cadotte Gilles Cadotte

    I’m, more than happy that you’ve got this guy onto your team. He’s bringing magic in what he’s doing and beleive me he knows is stuff. In my oppinion guys like him and Tim Wallace are among your top ten. Keep up your good work. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  25. Profile photo of Steve Fogel Steve Fogel

    Peter, I see you shoot with a camera that is roughly a 4:3 aspect ratio (as opposed to the standard DSLR 3:2) and you shoot in landscape. I think that this is a better aspect ratio for landscape headshots, and I’m wondering if you planned it this way. Unfortunately, to get 4:3 in my Canon 6D, I’ve got to shoot in Live View. I can always shoot 3:2 and then crop, but that’s extra work. Thanks so much for letting us into your studio! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  26. Profile photo of Gus Gus

    I’ve been a member of KT for about a year and this is one of the best videos I’ve watched. It was really fun to watch and Peter had great information to pass along in a very creative, easygoing way that made the videos just naturally flow. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  27. Profile photo of simonec simonec

    Wow! This definitely is a GREAT course! Very well done, open and honest. I really appreciated the section with Shelly: “We are human, we have feelings that we have to work with and manage correctly and professionally.” This course showed how to behave when things are not good for any reason. Again, a very good job. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  28. Profile photo of dtsobel dtsobel

    This the first time I have seen a tutorial that deals with how to work with the subject to get expressions. There needs to be more of these types of lessons. It was great! I have books and other resources on lighting and also posing but not how to work with people to get the great expressions! I would love to see this on more formal portraits that also includes some posing guides —- Yes, please post my feedback

  29. Profile photo of Nacer Nacer

    This course is just terrific (I’ve watched some segments several times). Peter does such a great job of explaining how important it is to interact with your subjects and how he went about developing his style. Very encouraging- thank you! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  30. Profile photo of ahair ahair

    So easy to watch. Entertaining as well as informative. Peter has great Charisma with both his subjects, as well as his audience. The only dissapointment was when I clicked on Peter’s link to view his other courses, and there were no others. Please do some more Peter – your work is great! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  31. Profile photo of Jonathan Tom Jonathan Tom

    Some awesome stuff here! I’ve learned a lot from Peter’s class, and it’s courses like this that drive me to continuously improve my photography. Keep them coming and I’m looking forward to the next course from Peter! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  32. Profile photo of scubaraven scubaraven

    Peter Hurley is wonderful in the way he communicates with both his subject, and the audience (us). It was so refreshing to watch something totally non-technical but so very informal in this class. Great stuff! Five Star! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  33. Profile photo of drmckay drmckay

    This is what makes Kelby Training so worthwhile. This is also what will get me to keep coming back each year. It is not just about gear and setup, it’s about working with your environment, training your mind to see and getting that decisive moment. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  34. Profile photo of Don Zandbergen Don Zandbergen

    Very valuable and insightful. Thanks for sharing your epierence and insights. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  35. Profile photo of mike caplan mike caplan

    Terrific tour de force demo on how to interact with your subjects, Peter! So much of the time we photographers and/or wannabe obsess over where to position the key/fill/kicker and forget there is a person there being hit with all of our deliberately-aimed photons! I did find it interesting that the final shot of Daisy on the tutorial showed her ear… which you were working so hard to cover! Thanks for the inspirational presentation! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  36. Profile photo of huntdog82 huntdog82

    This was a great class! I appreciate seeing art in action on KT and this didn’t disappoint. It is so nice and refreshing to see Peter having honest and direct interaction with the clients. I can’t wait till we get some more classes from this photographer. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  37. Profile photo of dcervenka dcervenka

    Kudos to Peter Hurley for nailing it once again and many thanks for Kelby for putting this together. However…. that background music is beyond ANNOYING! Please, please, please kill it and repost those sections! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  38. Profile photo of marcovedana marcovedana

    I never thought there could be a training that can explain the most important thing in portrait photography: the human condition and it’s handling! Respect for your skills! From Germany. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  39. Profile photo of mdolheim mdolheim

    I think Peter needs to take an very average ordinary looking person who is not very attractive and show us how to take a great headshot of that person. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  40. Profile photo of Dave-WMI Dave-WMI

    “Mastering Headshot Photography”, Wow, thanks for giving me a whole new way to look at portrait photography, awesome insight! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  41. Profile photo of Peter Peter

    Guys I’m totally inspired to be the best photographer and teacher I can be because of the support I’m getting from all of you. Thanks so much for watching. Teaching this stuff has opened a whole new world for me and the by product is that it’s made me a much better photographer. I’m constantly digging deeper into directing people in front of my camera and I’ve noticed a big change in my work since I started down the teaching path. I can’t thank Kelby Training enough for inviting me in and producing this tutorial. So psyched!!! SHABANG! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  42. Profile photo of Carolyn Fahm Carolyn Fahm

    I had heard that this course was amazing, but it was that and so much more. I learned so much about how to elicit true expression. Peter Hurley’s enthusiasm is contagious. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  43. Profile photo of Sundra Tanakoh Sundra Tanakoh

    Peter … all the lights just went off in my head.

    Thank you!!!!!!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  44. Profile photo of Zivush Zivush

    Excellent teacher and demo! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  45. Profile photo of Heusequin Heusequin

    Peter is The Best! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  46. Profile photo of skall skall

    An engaging, lively presentation! Exceptionally useful! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  47. Profile photo of evlens56 evlens56

    given the non-technical nature of this course I thought it was excellent

  48. Profile photo of jamasji jamasji

    FANTASTIC is the ideal term to describe the way the course is being conducted…to the point and easy to understand. I watched and followed instructions for four hours without stopping for anything and enjoyed every minute of it! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  49. Profile photo of Geoffrey Geoffrey

    I love this set of films. It’s obvious you need to make a connection with your client but not always easy. It’s no good being technically brilliant if you don’t make that connection. It’s not natural to everyone so it’s something else to think about. Even Peter makes notes on what works and he seems really confident. I have done two sittings since watching these films and my change of approach has given my work a huge boost. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  50. Profile photo of William William

    Be prepared as the working tips comes fast and furious. This is seriously a fundamental course on how to make sure the person in front and behind the camera can get the best out of the session. Why does a photographer have to be verbal and interact with the various types of personalities in front of the camera? Yeah there are comments on how to work with facial flaws, but the important issues of how to relay the corrections to the customer is more important. Note the lighting setup doesn’t have to change, it’s the give and take between the people involved that is important. I’ve never seen a session review documented as well as this. Definitely a must viewing for all photographers trying to get the best portrait possible. Thanks to Hurley and Kelby for making this available. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  51. Profile photo of Alexander Cordeiro Alexander Cordeiro

    Just amazing!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  52. Profile photo of Richard Richard

    Amazing tutorial and amazing photographs – Peter Hurley’s “tricks” for engaging and bringing out the best in his subjects will be of use especially to those of us who are uncomfortable directing their subjects. I’ll never ask someone to “smile” again – Promise! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  53. Profile photo of 1144441 1144441

    I really enjoyed this whole presentation — and looking at Hurley for the whole time didn’t hurt either! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  54. Profile photo of hereinmyhead76 hereinmyhead76

    I really enjoyed the authenticity of the shots and of the photographer. I’m motivated to try these techniques! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  55. Profile photo of jmcharette jmcharette

    This was probably the most enjoyable course that I’ve seen so far. I have a decent mastery of the technical issues with photography, but this really focused on working with a model to a degree that I hadn’t seen elswehere. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  56. Profile photo of Anthony Scott Anthony Scott

    Great course! I’ve been waiting for this one for months. Peter has a masterful technique that makes his clients feel totally at ease. I do believe that in another life he may have been a Quarterback for the Packers. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  57. Profile photo of Bendeavin Bendeavin

    I’ve been looking forward to this course since I first saw it was coming. I’m not a headshot photographer, but I think everyone who has ever photographed a person can learn so much from this class, amazing, really interesting to see how Peter works differently with different types of people. Really excellent class, I look forward to more classes from Mr Hurley! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  58. Profile photo of shortrich shortrich

    is the wording cheat sheet available as download? —- Yes, please post my feedback

  59. Profile photo of Kimo711 Kimo711

    Excellent course!!!!!! Love how he establishes an instant rapport with the people he is photographing. It’s insane how he gets them to blindly follow his lead even to the most extreme end facial expression. Would love to see more classes from him! Learned so much!
    —- Yes, please post my feedback

  60. Profile photo of Ross Ross

    I was very pleased with this course. Mr. Hurley completely passed on the technical and focused on sharing his approach to the emotional connection to his subjects. I found the shoots interesting to learn his approach and his personal style, but think I got the most out of how he does the reviews with the client. I also appreciated his frankness about how his attitude was influencing his subjects. I found the face pictograms online and will use this as I develop my own interaction style to go with my photographic style. Highly recommended. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  61. Profile photo of Ron Mandsager Ron Mandsager

    Great stuff! Really enjoyed it! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  62. Profile photo of Steve Strickland Steve Strickland

    What an awesome course. He shows you how to interact, elicit expressions and bring the best out of your clients. His photography rocks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  63. Profile photo of vivianfrerichs vivianfrerichs

    A W E S O M E!!! SHEBANG!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you KelbyTraining for bringing us Peter Hurley!! I own Peter’s DVD and I have attended a meet-up with Peter, but I can never get enough of him. I learn something every time I hear him speak. This course ALONE was worth my annual subscription fee. PLEASE do ANOTHER KelbyTraining soon with Peter– show us even more actors in front of his camera, and maybe more about how he runs his business. I am a head shot photographer too, so while I do watch the KelbyTraining videos on wedding photography, landscape photography, fashion photography, etc., it’s all well and good, but this…THIS!…this is what REALLY interests me. Thanks again to KelbyTraining and to the man himself…Peter Hurley!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  64. Profile photo of James Maddox James Maddox

    Such a great course… I can never get enough of Peter Hurley…. Now its time to go shoot… —- Yes, please post my feedback

  65. Profile photo of wmachuca wmachuca

    Peter has so much positive energy that it is infectious. He tells it straight up and is just himself.
    I highly recommend watching this. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  66. Profile photo of Dwight Erskine Dwight Erskine

    This was great! Peter spent 5% of the session discussing technical matters and 95% explaining (by doing!) how to make your subjects show true emotion in the camera. Absolutely fantastic. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  67. Profile photo of Sterling Hein Sterling Hein

    Peter Hurley is boss. Thank you. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  68. Profile photo of PNWLight PNWLight

    For me, this video is like the missing link…the aspect of my photography that just can’t be fixed with aperture, format and lighting. It’s not about the camera!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  69. Profile photo of Ray Warren Ray Warren

    That was excellent! This guy is a master of his craft! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  70. Profile photo of CliveTonge CliveTonge

    This course is the polish on the other Kelby training courses. It is no longer about cameras or lights or gear, it is all about people. How to see them and how to get the expressions that make them look their best, that make them look like themselves. It is exactly what I hoped it would be. It is going into my favourites list. I will be watching it again and again. Shebang! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  71. Profile photo of Robin Browne Robin Browne

    To the point, informative and inspiring. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  72. Profile photo of Jerred Golden Jerred Golden

    I have been looking forward to this seminar since Scott mentioned it was in the works and it was even better than I thought it be. Peter rocks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  73. Profile photo of capsix capsix

    Big welcome to Peter, great catch for kelby training, the guy is a genius!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  74. Profile photo of pshep pshep

    Fantastic! I have been waiting for this one to get released. Peter Hurley is inspiring and a great motivator. His approach to head shot photography is real world simplicity. His 90/10 belief is spot on and shows it really is about the people more than the tools. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  75. Profile photo of Bob Bob

    I never really liked doing head shots…your approach is great and even while watching I could feel myself smiling while you were working with your clients. Thanks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  76. Profile photo of Doc Fluty Doc Fluty

    Really liked it. It showed not so much the technical stuff, but the way to interact and get the best from clients. Could have talked a little bit about facial features and what to look for from certain types of faces. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  77. Profile photo of greenlife greenlife

    Very interesting indeed! This and Lackey’s course really tells me what’s it all about. I am really wanting to get out and shoot people now! Very nice course, thanks. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  78. Profile photo of Don McPhee Don McPhee

    I look forward to new stuff daily from KelbyTraining. This Peter Hurley video is real world and down to earth. Communication in the studio is paramount and this series brings that about 360. One of the best videos on KelbyTraining in years! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  79. Profile photo of Bryon Wiley Bryon Wiley

    Great! Loved it! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  80. Profile photo of John Meade John Meade

    Peter Hurley’s genius is reaching inside of someone and pulling out the best they have to offer and photographing it on their face. That’s his true talent and if you adopt his approach using your personal style, you will take the best headshots you’re capable of on a consistent basis. This video should be a primer for anyone who wants to kick their headshots to the next level. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  81. Profile photo of fabricerdz fabricerdz

    Peter’s class is awesome, I’ve learned so much watching him do his thing. Every session seems to be a human adventure full of happiness, emotion and expression. The result is stunning and portraits are gorgeous. Can’t wait to see more. Peter you rock! Now, I’m really exited to go back to my camera and experiment what I learned. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  82. Profile photo of mrcubanator73 mrcubanator73

    Peter Hurley rocks the house at KelbyTraining! —- Yes, please post my feedback

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