Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

The Headshot: My Lethal Combination

  • Print
  • + Share This
In this chapter from The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits, Peter Hurley explains how capturing that combination of confidence and approachability is the key to a great headshot.
This chapter is from the book
04fig00.jpg

Jeff Appel

Confidence coupled with approachability is my staple. It’s my everyday grind. It’s what I live, eat, and breathe with headshot photography, and I will for the rest of my life. Getting somebody in front of my camera and capturing them with an expression that conveys confidence and approachability meshed together is the whole enchilada for me.

Infusing this combo into a headshot really is what creates a shabangin’ shot for me. It’s a lethal combo that, once I capture it, I have the ability to end the session at any moment. In that expression, I’ve captured the one look that I need and I can go home. I just killed the session in one click of the shutter and, for me, that is what it’s all about. It’s precisely what I go into my studio on a daily basis to try to accomplish. So, I really can’t stress how important this one expression is to me and the work I’m producing.

04fig01.jpg

Tamara del Rosso

Injecting Confidence Into Their Personal Brand

Early on in my career, I would look at somebody in front of my camera and I’d think about what I really wanted from him or her. I didn’t know what it was at that time, but I knew I wanted a bit of their personality meshed into the image somehow. If they’re using the headshot for marketing themselves in some way, then it becomes their #1 personal branding tool, and capturing a bit of them is of utmost importance. I thought it would be pretty obvious to all my clientele that they would want to look approachable while simultaneously looking like they have their act together. Little did I know that they really don’t have any clue as to what they want to convey to the camera. I think most just want to get through the process, hoping they get a picture of themselves that they like. It has never dawned on them what the image will convey to others. When I explain the reasoning behind wanting to capture a shot that has the ability to convey confidence in them while hitting their approachable side, as well, they begin to understand its importance.

For me, it started with actors—I felt a casting director wouldn’t want to waste their time by bringing an actor in that didn’t look like they knew what they were doing. My goal became upping that actor’s game by giving the illusion that they are exuding confidence in their headshot and the industry started to notice. I saw so many headshots where people looked eager or spaced out, and wanted my work to be as far away from that as possible. I refused to let work go out of my studio where I didn’t capture my subject looking confident; it just wasn’t going to happen in my world.

A casting director for ABC at the time started sending me a ton of actors and told me that there was something about my work that she loved. She said publicly, “Peter makes actors that need headshots look like they’ve made it already—they look like celebrities.” When I heard that, I was floored. It was exactly what I had set out to do years earlier. That was probably the moment when I felt like I had arrived. I had blasted through the pecking order of headshot photographers in New York, and all my theories and what I stood for were summed up in that one sentence. I created headshots that spewed confidence and approachability all over these casting directors, and the actors that came into my studio benefited greatly from it. The news was out and my studio was busier than ever. It wasn’t because of the white background, killer lighting, horizontal, chopped off head format that I love—that really wasn’t why this became a phenomenon. I believe it was because my images oozed what we’ll call, from now on, C&A.

04fig02.jpg

Max Elk

04fig03.jpg

Brace Rice

  • Here’s a quote I’ve been known to throw around the last few years: “I believe it’s our responsibility as photographers to pull the best out of our clients; no matter how stiff & lifeless they are.” —Peter Hurley

So, for every actor that I shoot, the plan is to use the headshot to get acting work, and in order to do that, they need to somehow convey in a still image that they can act like you wouldn’t believe. If I’m shooting a real estate broker, they’re using it to try to get clients to pick them as their broker over the next guy. It needs to say, “Yes, I get the job done and you are going to love working with me to find your new home.” If I’m shooting a CEO, it’s pretty much the same: “I run this company and we not only get the job done for our clients, but this is also a fantastic place to work.” Basically, you want the person to look like they’re extremely capable of doing whatever it is that they do, and that they are fantastic to be around while they are doing it.

I shoot a lot of corporate stuff these days, so a really good example would be when I have a CEO come in front of my camera. Let’s say he comes in and immediately diminishes or avoids the camera altogether. I’m just looking at him and I’m thinking: “This guy runs a company? What kind of operation is he running in his brain right now? How the heck did he get to where he is and just fall apart in front of me? If I take this picture and he uses it in the annual report or something, he’s not going to look like the guy that runs the show at all.”

So, I need to figure out how to get him (or her—I shoot a lot of women that are CEOs and presidents these days, too) to snap out of it. How do I get this guy to up his game and get him to where he should be? It’s really just a different muscle for these people that has to be triggered. The guy may be great at his job, but he doesn’t possess the skill set of taking decent pictures while in front of the camera. At least, not yet!

This headshot needs to reflect that he is a powerful human being and good at being the figurehead of the company. But, as I’ve said, the way he behaves in front of a lens is totally different than the way he’ll behave in the office, and this guy is a runner. So, how are you going to let this person who has gotten to the top of their company look completely out to lunch in their headshots? You aren’t!

04fig04.jpg

Alice Lee

You need to up this person’s game fast, and having the skill set to do it is priceless. If you get them where you need them to be with this C&A thing, it will not only make them look good in the eyes of the company and whoever sees the shot, it will also secure you as the headshot photographer of choice for their entire operation! This is where you’ll want to be. Turnover in companies often happens fairly rapidly and being the go-to headshot photographer who makes their people look great is the best recurring income you can have. Treat your clients like gold and keep them coming back for more. If you build up a handful of companies like this, you’ll really start to understand what it’s like to make a living as a headshot specialist.

04fig05.jpg

Jenny Kedves

Our job as photographers is really to own our subject’s expression for them. I’m sick of photographers thinking that they just have to take a technically sound photograph. That’s totally ridiculous in my world. You can’t afford to have this guy walk out on you at the end of the session without having captured a confident look. I just couldn’t ever bear to do that—no way, no how, no can do, not happening in my world.

So, I’ve always put the fault on myself. If I don’t get confidence out of my subject, then it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me and my direction. Even if they get in front of the camera and they don’t want to be there—they are freaking out and want to be out of there lickety-split—it’s still my gig and I own that turf they are standing on. They aren’t going anywhere. You have to hone in on getting the confidence out of them and get the job done no matter what.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020