Top positive review
Thanks Mr. Hurley! I did my own headshots for LinkedIn, and they came out great!
Reviewed in the United States on April 20, 2017
I would like to thank Peter Hurley for sharing his secrets with the rest of us- he lays it all out in this book, which goes into greater detail than his YouTube videos, which I also highly recommend watching if you want to try Mr. Hurley's technique. I didn't know the first thing about photographing headshots before I got this book, except that I couldn't seem to get any good ones taken. They were so awful that they didn't even remotely resemble how I look in person or in the mirror and frankly I just wanted to cry. I love the conversational tone and humor in the book, and there is no contesting that Mr. Hurley has mastered this type of photography.
I needed headshots for LinkedIn because I just graduated from college and I'm looking for a job, and I need to look professional. I was worried because I have never considered myself to be photogenic- I wouldn't want to scare potential employers off with a horrid pic. You just never know these days... The campus photographer offered to shoot some pics for me, but they came out hideous. I'm not sure what lens he was using but I must have gained fifty pounds in my face alone. He is great at photographing the sports events but not so much with a headshot. I'm grateful that he took a stab at it anyway, he was trying to save me some money from hiring a pro. I have a Nikon D7000 and decided that I would give it a try, using the remote. Lots of equally horrible shots later that miraculously did not break the camera, I ordered some books on posing and this book on headshots because I knew there was something I was missing, and I had to find out what.
I liked what Peter Hurley had to say about people who think they are not photogenic, and paid lots of attention to his techniques on not adding weight to people with the camera. I watched his YouTube videos, practiced squinching in the mirror, and got a tether cord for my camera. I downloaded a free tethering software program called digiCamControl so I could shoot tethered. I rigged up my own fluorescent light box using four 4-ft long 2-bulb fixtures from Home Depot and Lowes, and I used 6500k bright daylight bulbs. Expect to pay around $20 for a T8 fixture and $12 for a T12 fixture, and two-packs of the bulbs ran about $11 each. So you can set this up inexpensively, and then you have lights you can use for other purposes, like starting seeds if you garden. I have a chrome shelving unit that I put directly in front of my desk, and I zip-tied the upright light fixtures to the shelf posts and rested the bottom edges on the desk. I laid the top light across the top shelf, and set the lower one on the desk. My square is more like a # but it does the job on the budget I have. I set my laptop on the shelf and put the mouse & pad on a hardback book that I held in my lap. I put the camera on a tripod behind this shelf rig, and dinked around with it until I got it the way I wanted it. I put it on full manual and used the settings Mr. Hurley recommends on page 33; I could change the ISO setting from the laptop with the mouse afterward. I had a 30x40" foamboard from some art classes I took, and I binder-clipped that to a chrome shelf I had behind me.
If you follow his setup, you will pretty much be in the zone for the cropped head style he favors. Then if you follow his advice about finding your good side (for me, it's the side without the ginormous zit that just surfaced! coincidentally my good side is the left side), posing correctly ("it's all about the jaw"), and making sure your hair isn't ruining your shots, you will probably not even need to break out Photoshop. I have done two sessions so far as a learning process, and I could probably use what I have but I want to try again with a few little changes. The first session I did would have been fine except for some reason my hair frizzed up, and I had to wash it and restyle it before trying again. Then the second time some strands of hair ended up getting on my face but I didn't notice it until too late. I figured out what I need to do to my hair (strong hairspray!) and makeup to get it right, and I will resume shooting tomorrow.
When I got the setup right, my photos came out WITHOUT adding weight and slimmed down my face, my skin looked luminous without a bunch of makeup on it, I looked confident & approachable like he says in the book, and the pics look way better than selfies with a bunch of distracting crap in the background and so-so lighting. I studied the pics in the book to get an idea of how his makeup artist does the looks and tried to copy it. I don't want to look like I'm wearing a ton of makeup, just want the natural myself-but-better look. (Which of course involves wearing a lot of makeup, but lightly and skillfully applied.) Keep in mind that the camera, with its single lens, does not have the depth perception that we do with our two eyes, and you can do some contouring with makeup to trick the camera into seeing what you want it to see. Wayne Goss and others on YouTube have lots of videos on how to do contouring, and IMHO it's necessary for still photography. That is one reason why you can look good in person and horrible in pictures- the camera only has the one lens and it flattens everything out to varying degrees depending on the lens being used.
I am super-pleased because I got excellent results using stuff I already had, except for three of the light fixtures and the bulbs. I also learned how posing and lighting can make all the difference in whether you are photogenic or not, and Mr. Hurley's recommendations prevent reasonably attractive people from literally looking like trolls in photographs. I've taken a couple of photography classes but I'm still quite the amateur; I haven't taken any studio lighting classes, and being ignorant of that subject was hosing me over before I got this book. I love that the fluorescent lighting is continuous and you don't have to mess around with flashes. I also love the plain background which puts all the viewer's attention on the person in the photograph, and allows the subject's personality to show. I can only imagine what I could get with better lighting and equipment, but I was able to do a lot with what I had, and it's all due to this book. Loveee!