Mastering Headshot Photography, with Peter Hurley

Master the art of headshot photography with one of the planet’s premier advertising and commercial photographers, Peter Hurley!

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!

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 03:44)

Join Peter Hurley in his studio as he discusses the most important aspects of headshot photography.

Lesson 2: Andy (Duration 11:18)

If you can capture the essence of somebody it takes the portrait to a whole new level.

Lesson 3: Sarah (Duration 15:27)

You need to develop your own routine to help you provide a flow to your sessions.

Lesson 4: Ariana (Duration 13:09)

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.

Lesson 5: Joseph (Duration 14:49)

We want headshots that make people feel or think. There are certain words that can help elicit expressions from your subjects.

Lesson 6: Debbie (Duration 11:02)

The photographer is responsible for the expression. Don't let the person go if you can't get the expression.

Lesson 7: Shelly (Duration 07:36)

Cameras are powerful, and when you are behind the camera you have all the power.

Lesson 8: Reviews (Duration 08:31)

Sitting down to review the shots with the client is an important part of the process.

Lesson 9: Daisy (Duration 08:22)

There is no stopping to this. You may master bits and pieces, but you are always learning and always growing.

Lesson 10: Conclusion (Duration 05:20)

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.

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…


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. FANTASTIC is the ideal term to describe the way the course is being the point and easy to understand. I watched and followed instructions for four hours without stopping for anything and enjoyed every minute of it!

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. 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

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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!

  37. 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.

  38. 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!!!

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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 !

  42. 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.

  43. 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!!

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