Get The Peter Hurley "Look" With A Single Light

Since we released Peter Hurley's: The Art Behind The Headshot, the internet has been trying to replicate his signature look without shelling out thousands for his Kino Flo lights. The guys over at SLR Lounge put together a great video that comes up with a similar look by using only 1 light, 1 bank, and 3 reflectors. I think the results are fantastic.

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68 Comments
Tam Nguyen's picture

....... okay I've waited long enough, and no one said anything, so I'll say it first. This is a 2-light setup: one on top the model, and one behind.

Lee Morris's picture

The light in the background has nothing to do with "Peter's look" so I thought you could take it or leave it.

Pye's picture

Hey Tam. The background light is just optional. We used it just to kick a little interest into the background, but it doesn't need to be there for the subject lighting. We specific that it is optional in the video and included images with and without the background light so you can see the difference. Hope you enjoyed either way!

Lee Morris's picture

You just got served Tam

Jaron Schneider's picture

A big platter of delicious education.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Oh I enjoyed the video for sure. I was just attacking Jaron. See thread below.

Noam Galai's picture

the light in the back is not part of the look, or what lit the face. it just to add a little bit of texture and color in the back... the peter look is achieved by 1 light only.

Jaron Schneider's picture

I don't know if I would classify this as "one light." If you add a reflector, that counts as a second light. So this looks like a four light setup. What if the sun is reflecting off a wall? Is that wall a light? Yup. Two light setup. If this was a "one strobe setup" that would be a different story.

Lee Morris's picture

so if I go outside and the sun is reflecting off of a wall then the building is a light?

Jaron Schneider's picture

Yeah, I said that. Anything that provides a different angle of light is a light source, and what I would classify as a "light."

Lee Morris's picture

So if I go outside and put a single strobe on a light stand and light my subject I have to call it at least a 2 light setup because the sun is in the sky?

Jaron Schneider's picture

Absolutely.

Lee Morris's picture

I don't think anyone does that. Zack Arias did a DVD called 1 light, and he using objects to bounce light in almost every instance.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Maybe I'm being too strict here. Let's all go to a bar and hug. Drinks on me.

Tam Nguyen's picture

So now you're saying it's "light source" and not "light"?

Jaron Schneider's picture

I'm saying the words are used synonymously in this trade.

Lucas Arundel's picture

Synonymous? How about I still call it a "light source", and my wallet still calls it "being $500 richer"? :D

I do love this kind of debate though.

Noam Galai's picture

Sorry, but if you count buildings as 'lights', each portrait you shoot outside is a 216 light setup.

Jaron Schneider's picture

hahahaha touche touche

Pye's picture

Jaron and Tam, you guys are nuts. There is a solid reason behind the 1 light, 2 light, 3 light naming convention. You name sources that generate light, not sources that modify it. Why? because it would be absolutely impossible, impractical and imprecise (wow, 3 i's in a row) to try to name off all the potential modifiers that are adding light to a scene. This means you would have to call the cement, the brick wall, the glass door, or anything else reflecting light into your scene a "light source."

What we showed in the video was a 1-light setup with an optional 2-light setup version as well.

Lee, if you shoot outside using the Sun as a light source in addition to a flash or something, I think it should be included as a "two-light" setup, one of them just happens to be the sun. If you were to use just the sun, and use a giant scrim to modify it shooting with only the sun and the scrim, you are back to a 1-light setup.

Man, I can't believe I just spent 5 minutes writing this.

Lee Morris's picture

Preach it sister

Tam Nguyen's picture

I don't know why you spent that time either. I was just giving Jaron a hard time. He chickened out and resorted to buy us drinks at PDN this year, so I let him win the battle.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Btw I'm so confused. I don't even know what I said anymore.

Pye's picture

Lol, hope I am included on drinks. I drink soda, so I am a cheap date ;)

Noam Galai's picture

At least tell me you're eating pies

Pye's picture

I do love pies, the pizza and dessert variety.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Most def. I'll buy you two since you took so long in that response!

Tam Nguyen's picture

Don't count on it. @JaronSchneider1219:disqus and I had a date night last month; he was so cheap he made me go Dutch. Didn't even take me to a nice bar on our way back. Bastard.

Pye's picture

Haha, that's cold blooded @JaronSchneider1219:disqus. Dudes don't go dutch, that's just weird. You got this one, I got the next one, that's how the bros handle business ;)

Matthew Fleisher's picture

battle of the wits...will someone please turn off that ceiling, it's bouncing too much light on my subject's hair. If you removed the sun (figuratively speaking) there wouldn't be any light to reflect off the wall (theoretically speaking) so there is only one source and the wall is a light modifier.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Dude. No. "light" and "light source" are not the same thing. A light is a light source, but a light source isn't necessarily a light all the time.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Rarely does anyone go as specific as to say "light source." People just say "light." So from what I have learned, I have learned "one light" to literally mean a single light source.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Yeah well we ARE getting technical here.

Lee Morris's picture

I want to make it clear to anyone reading our ridiculous arguments below that both Jaron and Tam work for Fstoppers. We are just giving each other a hard time.

Tam Nguyen's picture

I work here?

Lee Morris's picture

Maybe not for long

Tam Nguyen's picture

FML!

Zach Sutton's picture

Define work....

Tam Nguyen's picture

Oh god please don't make me get fired for no reason fuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Noam Galai's picture

Lee - this is what I emailed the whole company (including the CEO and Arianna) when I got laid off - they blocked me from using my computer few seconds later :(

Lee Morris's picture

lol

Jaron Schneider's picture

Banter. I prefer banter over argument :)

S Wade's picture

So since you are all looking at this post, is it possible for you to change it where every time you click a link it opens up in a new window. Pain in the ass every time I click a link in these comments.

Matthew Fleisher's picture

I'm a smart-ass, where do I apply?

Isaac Ruiz's picture

I enjoyed the vid regardless of the amount of light sources, will be doing this setup with my next headshots, thanks for posting.

Norm Cooper's picture

so, if I have two fluorescent tubes in one bank, is that one light or two...?

Matthew Fleisher's picture

plus reflector makes three...or four

Simon's picture

Good job.... way to put Peter Hurley out of business...

Pye's picture

Lol, I hope that isn't what we did. The goal was to make his lighting more approachable, and encourage people to get the workshop to learn his amazing posing and client interaction skills. The lighting on any shoot is the easy part. Getting the look and the right expression, that is what makes the photographer special.

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