In February of 2012 I did my first post for Scott's guest blog called It's All About The Jaw! I'm not particularly keen on writing, so I decided to do it as a video blog on the very first direction I give everyone who steps foot in front of my camera. It ended up being a huge hit and was his most popular guest post of 2012.

Having outdone myself the first time, I found myself pushing off a second attempt in fear of not being able to live up to the hype. Well, I finally got the courage to create my second effort and you can judge for yourself whether it makes the cut or not.

It's the second in this little series I'm doing and it's called It's All About The Squinch! I know what you are thinking… What the heck is squinching? Truth is I made it up. You'll have to watch the video to get a sense of it, but I believe it is the single reason behind me being able to talk to you right now.

13 years ago I picked up a camera and started shooting models and actors in New York. I had no formal training, and only a camera in my hand and my desire to become a successful portrait photographer. Being a former model, I knew that whenever a camera was pointed at me I had to do something; create a look, make a move, fire out an expression, whatever. Anything but sit there looking blank and lifeless.

As a fledgling photographer I began looking at other's work, specifically the headshot industry here in New York. I saw one thing that was repeated over and over again. Blank lifeless images with absolutely no juice coming towards the camera. Why didn't I see the same thing when I looked at celebrities in magazines? Was it the photographer or the celebrity that made the difference in those shots? I believe now that it's a bit of both, but it was then and there that I decided it was my mission to create interesting expressions for my clients.

That's right, I had to create it for them. I couldn't leave it up to my clients to do it on their own. It was my work and I was going to infuse it with life if it was the last thing I did. It became my responsibly, so no matter how stiff or uncomfortable anyone was, they weren't leaving my studio without what I considered a Peter Hurley headshot. No way, no how. This was my domain and my biggest weapon became the squinch.

My biggest fear was that other photographers would find out about the squinch. Well, over the past few years I've been teaching squinching up the wazoo in my Headshot Intensive, my Kelby Training class, Mastering The Headshot, as well as on my DVD, The Art Behind The Headshot. I've been drilling the point home the best I can that to me all my success is simply based on making each person squinch in front of my camera. No other way around it, this is a biggie and the fact that I'm here to tell you proves that for me. So enjoy the video and next time someone's in front of your camera why don't you try having them fire in a little squnch!

I'll be throwing out more of my signature stuff down the road, so be on the lookout. Scott and I are working on a book and I'll be speaking at Photoshop World in Atlanta. If you want to see my current teaching schedule then check out my coaching site for headshot photographers worldwide at PH2Pro.com.

You can see more of Peter’s work at PeterHurley.com, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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24 Comments

  1. Good job, Peter!

  2. Amazing post Peter! Definitely going to use this the next time I shoot head shots. I already have your DVD and have worked on the jaw but this is a great addition. Keep up the great work!

  3. Super info! Excellent & detailed explanation. You rock!

  4. “Squinch”, Oxford’s next word of the year.

  5. Nice Peter…I really admire your story. It’s certainly an inspiration to keep investing in my passion and busting my butt!

  6. Man, I just love your videos…you certainly have the knack for pointing out stuff most of us never notice….Sha Bamm!!

  7. Having experienced Peter in person, I can say with confidence that his true gift is reaching inside of people and bringing out the best they have and photographing it on their face. His tips and tricks are worth their weight in gold; his passion for getting the shot is priceless.

  8. Definitely a book I am looking forward to working on! Can’t wait!

  9. Great Video. Now to figure out how to get these Okies to Squinch instead of Squint or Headlight!

  10. Thanks Peter, this is a great tip! When I saw your video last year about accentuating the jawline I starting using that tip with my portrait clients and even people I shoot at social events. At first they thought I was crazy — until they saw the results! Appreciate you sharing some of your wisdom here!

  11. I’m from the land of moonshine, we have a different meaning for squinching :)

  12. I really loved the chin out thing you did some time ago, but honestly, I think most of those models look better when they don’t squinch. When they squinch, to me it looks like they’re up to something devious or it makes them look “shifty”, which isn’t a look I would want.

    However, I’m definitely not Peter Hurley Sha-Bang! Still love you man. :)

    • I appreciate your point but I think if you don’t see the non-squinch photograph side-by-side to the squinch image, the squinch shot wins every time. Another very engaging post by Peter Hurley.

      • After going back and looking at them, I still think some of those folks shouldn’t squinch, its just not a good look for them. However, I think it did help a few of the others, so (and this is just my opinion) I think it works well with some folks and not others. Still a great idea for those that tend to look bug-eyed when getting their portrait taken.

  13. I do think that a few of those folks looked better squinching.

  14. I thought “Squinching” was what you did when they mentioned “colonoscopy”…
    Much better this way.
    Go Peter!

  15. Best. Guest. Blog. E V E R!!!!!

  16. Just can’t get enough Hurley…SheBANG!

  17. Such an inspiration, thank you Peter!

  18. Good tip for some portraits, I guess. Squinching makes me look like a criminal! Loved the show though!

  19. Love. I’m going to start squinching for all photos.

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