Meeting top headshot photographer, Peter Hurley

When I first started studying the works of the great photographers, the name Peter Hurley and his trademarked SHABANG kept coming up. Actually, I can’t remember a time since I became a photographer that I didn’t know his name. Around the world the images of people great and small that have stood in front of his camera, resonated with me. The more I delved into it, the more I realized what an icon he is within the industry.

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Gaining skills and confidence as a headshot photographer

Imagine my sense of awe when I went to the Portrait Masters Conference eight weeks ago in Phoenix, and he was one of the mentors available to help us hone our craft. In my awestruck state, I had to meet him. I imagine, being who he is, many people approach him with tentativeness—this made me think… I had to set my fangirling aside and I came at him with bold curiosity. And what a great decision that was.

Anxiety brought thick beads of sweat to my forehead, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and treat him like a real human being. And guess what I learned? Peter Hurley is not only human, he is super human. Literally one of my favorite people I’ve ever met.

The Headshot Intensive opportunity

There is a reason Peter excels in everything he does. He is ALWAYS looking for the next step. Here is a man whose own curiosity and thirst for perfection made my desire to grow into the best photographer and human I can be, flourish.

It’s been 8 weeks since I first met him, and two weeks ago I decided to go to Los Angeles and spend a few days at a Headshot Intensive with him. I loved his transparency and willingness to answer any question. I’ve now had the incredible privilege in a short time to stand in front of his lens twice—and I completely get why his clients adore him. He makes you forget about the camera and throws ridiculous directives at you so that your inner self comes out to shine. The images he captures are unique and make you feel like a million bucks.

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Peter is no stranger to being in front of a camera or in the public eye. His early career as a model and actor is what ultimately drew him to photography. In his words he was “just a guy lucky enough to have picked up a camera” and for everyone he photographs, we would definitely agree.

At the Headshot Intensive and Intensified, I learned a wealth of knowledge—100% worth the price tag and I’m already seeing results of his teachings in my own studio.

I was overwhelmed when I arrived at the LA studio and realized I also got to meet Tony Taafe, founder of and teacher of the TNT business model—Angie was a happy girl! Once Peter arrived, we started off with a SHABANG, his unique exclamation, and dove in head first to learn all about what makes an incredible headshot. A squinch and a smile, and away we went.

Gathered around Peter and Tony’s LA studio, we listened and took notes rapidly. This entire concept was born 10 years ago when Peter created the Headshot Crew. A place for photographers to learn online what makes an incredible headshot experience. I would venture to say Peter is the top headshot photographer in the world—actually wait… since I don’t know any on Jupiter or Mars, I’m going to take a stretch and say in the galaxy!

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The experience of a lifetime: Learning from the great Peter Hurley

Over three days, Peter taught the 10 of us his lighting, posing, direction, misdirection and he threw us right into the thick of it with practical hands-on application. The spheres of influence were crackling as we photographed a few local actors, had an assignment to photograph a stranger on the street, and each other.

The final exam was photographing Peter himself, well not himself. The former actor created a unique character for each of us to work with one on one. Without faltering, he maintained the persona so that he could see what each of us still needed to learn. I gotta say… I love Peter more than I love Gomer (the character I photographed), although I look forward to trying the dual purpose unique candies his faux company is working on creating.

Above and beyond learning to photograph headshots

For those of us in attendance, we realized that all work and no play would make Peter a dull boy—Dull he is not! Over delicious dinners, drinks, and ridiculous banter, he shared so many facets with us. Work hard play hard definitely describes his philosophy. Sarcastic, gentle, kind, witty, strong, vulnerable—through thick and thin, I had one of the best weeks of my career. We transcended being on a “business trip” and into doing life together and laughing our faces off. To Adam, Michael, Michael, Kenita, Izabella, Ben, Navid, Avinash, and Bonnie—so glad to have shared this experience with you! We were all aboard the crazy train, but arrived at our stations safely.

Whether you’re a photographer looking to up your skills, or a human looking for a real exchange, Peter Hurley is someone you need to know. Getting to stand shoulder to shoulder with literally the best will hone your craft—what put the cherry on top was that he treated us all as equals.

He’s now rising as an NFT star with his release of the SHABANGRs—Pics of mine below! I love that he is always looking for the next thing.

There is a saying “friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime”—I’ve found a friend in Peter that I look forward to for a lifetime. Love you, Peter xo

PS: Please trademark shabangable 😉

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Get your own amazing headshots!

Take advantage of the skills I learned from top headshot photographer, Peter Hurley, in your own portrait shoot.