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Book Review: The Headshot by Peter Hurley

You can look at my work and compare it with the books I’ve read and you’ll probably be able to tell which book I read because it strongly influences my work. Well, even though I just finished Peter Hurley’s book, The Headshot, he has been influencing my work ever since he was featured on Scott Kelby’s blog in 2012. Since then he’s made several videos teaching various aspects of headshot photography (“It’s all about the Squinch” is unforgettable). I’ve attended his talks and his style of inculcating a simple process makes it impossible to forget the principles he’s teaching. This latest book is no different.

The Headshot takes us through Hurley’s workflow, and through his brain while shooting. He holds nothing back and gives us everything we need to do to make emotive and genuine headshots with all kinds of people. On the technical side, he gives us the camera settings, light positions, and flash power that he uses, but this is the least important stuff in the book. He shows us how to position people and how he uses his makeup artist to help the shoot along. He expounds on the jawline and the squinch, and all the other stuff that’s made him famous. But these mechanical things are in there just to get us ready for the most important wisdom he has to share: psyphotology.

Hurley gives us all his tips for building trust with people and empowering them to present their best selves in a photograph, which naturally looks terrific. He works with a psychologist who lends a scientific justification to the way Hurley works, and he explains all this in the book. He doesn’t just explain how he does things, though–he actually tells us exactly which words he uses in his schtick so we can develop our personal schtick that will help people be their best in front of our cameras. And he does all this explaining in a conversational language that makes this book a very fast read.

TheHeadshot_FC

Hurley is a big personality: he’s tall, and he has huge curly hair, he’s loud, and he gives people hugs. But don’t let his schtick fool you into thinking he’s just making pictures. You’ve never met anyone who knows more about the muscles in the face and the goings-on behind people’s eyes in front of the camera. Hurley has spent more than a decade not only refining his photography techniques but also researching all this stuff related to it so that he truly is a master of his craft. Don’t underestimate him, but do pick up this book.

Can you tell that this is a rave review of The Headshot?

Highly recommended.

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