I’m excited to tell you my story, but the truth is that I just feel like a guy lucky enough to pick up a camera. It’s been a wild ride and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given along the way.
It all started while I was training for the Olympic Games. I met then DKNY designer, Caggie Simonelli Bradford, who took me under her wing to help me generate sponsorship opportunities. She caught wind of the fact that Ralph Lauren was looking for real sailors for an upcoming Polo Sport ad campaign and the next thing I knew I was sailing in front of Bruce Weber’s lens. Little did I know that day would forever change the trajectory of my life. The story was later documented in the New York Times.
After my Olympic dream came to an end, I moved to New York to try my hand at a modeling/acting/bartending career that seemed to become a pounding of the pavement experiment. It was at that time that Bruce encouraged me to pick up a camera. I started out by photographing portraits of my model friends and landed my first commercial job photographing sneakers for Reebok. I even had a little stint shooting for Levi’s on “The Apprentice.” I loved the portrait work I was getting, however, decided to focus all my efforts on my goal of becoming the best headshot photographer I could be. My signature style of simple clean backgrounds, beautiful lighting, and captivating expressions became all the rage. I was recognized numerous times year after year by Backstage magazine as the best headshot photographer in New York City.
I was in my own little world, running a bustling portrait studio when these two characters from Fstoppers, Lee and Patrick, walked in my door and turned my operation on its head. Their interview garnered a ton of attention from up and coming photographers, so with some reluctance at first I decided to begin sharing my “special sauce” if you will. This was one decision that instantly turned my life 90 degrees into another direction. My YouTube videos “It’s All About the Jaw” and “It’s All About the Squinch” went viral, leading to appearances on Good Morning America and Good Day NY. The New York Times featured my ideas in “6 Tips for Better Portraits” and “How to Pose for a Photograph.” Popular Photography went so far as to dub me “The Headshot King.”
To me, the best part about everything I’ve ever done is that my work is the backbone that has gotten me to where I am and it stands for itself. My acting clients get jobs because the shots help open up doors for them, corporate executives are leaving my studio with a big ol’ smile on their face and my personal branding clients are getting a slew of material to work with in order to promote their brand. This combo of the work I’ve been putting out and the popularity of people actually wanting to look their best in front of a camera led to a slew of speaking offers coming my way. I’ve been able to share my message to thousands in talks for Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, GoDaddy, Allergan, and Canon to name a few. I am most proud of the TEDx talk I gave at MIT called “Bridging the Self-Acceptance Gap” with Dr. Anna Rowley.
By sharing my knowledge I’ve been able to watch the number of photographers specializing in headshot photography increase considerably over the years. Riding on this wave of growth I wrote my first book, The Headshot, which shot to a #1 bestseller in photography on Amazon upon its release and founded Headshot Crew, which is now the largest network of headshot specialists with over 15,000 members worldwide. Through a stringent vetting process, I have personally selected the cream of the crop to represent the Headshot Crew brand as my esteemed Associate Photographers. I’m proud to say that we now have in place the only photographer team capable of providing a consistent look for companies that desire the highest quality imagery for their corporate headshot photography needs on a global scale.
Like I said earlier, I’m truly grateful for everything that has come my way. The best part is that I absolutely love what I do and none of it seems like work to me. I believe that everything I’ve worked to accomplish stems from this one thing:
The time I’ve spent looking through my viewfinder at the beauty of each human face that I find there.
That’s it in a nutshell and it is my life’s work. When you don’t find me with a camera in my hand then you will be sure to see me crusin around on a Laser somewhere in the world or spending as much time as I possibly can with my beautiful wife and precious twin daughters.
Feel free to follow where the world takes me via my Instagram stories @peter_hurley. #SHABANG!