How I became a Peter Hurley Associate Photographer
Becoming an Associate Photographer of Peter Hurley is a lot like Michael Jordan saying "Hey man, come play on my team".
Peter is widely considered to be the best headshot photographer in the world. Through his Headshot Crew he coaches photographers from all over the world, less than 1% of whom make it to the level of being an Associate Photographer and his representative in a given market.
It's an incredible honor and something I've been working hard towards for some time now.
Since 2012 I'd been floundering my way through practically every genre of photography without any real purpose or direction. Events, families, weddings, newborns, senior portraits, headshots, you name it I tried it. It wasn't until late 2015 that I found Peter Hurley and started falling in love with the idea of headshot photography and what it could do for my personal growth. How it could appeal to my technical nature, but get me waaaay out of my comfort zone and put me in a high pressure one-on-one situation with another human. Sometimes that's the only way to truly grow… forcing yourself to be uncomfortable.
Shortly after joining Peter's Headshot Crew (one of the most supportive communities I've ever come across) in the fall of 2015 I started absorbing everything I could and diving head first into this genre. I knew it was something that was becoming more and more important and that in today's digital world, everyone needs a good headshot. Very quickly I realized that not only was this something I could be good at and grow personally from, but it was something that would allow me to help propel others to their own success. Elevating their personal brand to new heights and opening new doors and connections through their digital presence.
By the time October of 2016 had rolled around, I'd been through one portfolio review live with Peter on one of the weekly CrewCasts but hadn't yet met him in person. That was when I went to Chicago to attend one of his Headshot Intensive workshops. Two days with 11 other eager headshot photographers shooting and learning first hand from The Man. It was invigorating and I left Chicago finally having a solid direction and focus for my photography business. I was going to be a headshot guy, and I wanted to be one of the best in the world. Lofty I know, but you have to aim high, right?!
In the months to follow the intensive I put face after face in front of my camera, honing my skills and building a portfolio that would hopefully pass muster and get me to that coveted Associate status. In the two live portfolio reviews to follow, November 2016 and January 2017, I didn't make the cut. The January one I left especially battered and bruised from and was on the verge of giving up on the whole idea. He told me I was close, but it didn't feel much like it. After a day of feeling sorry for myself I dusted off and got back on track collecting faces for a fourth try sometime in the future.
Fast forward four weeks, on my 42nd birthday Peter pulls me up live on the CrewCast and said "lets do this". He wanted to see if I could make Associate on my birthday. I panicked, I hadn't yet recovered from the last beating and I hadn't finished assembling a full portfolio that I thought could pass muster. You see…. Here's how this works….
You can submit up to 20 images in a portfolio review, and 15 have to be up to snuff, with a good mix of males and females and they all have to be at a consistent level of quality and look. I only had 15 sitting in my portfolio when I was put on the spot. That means if ONE image doesn’t cut it, I fail again. For perspective…. In my third review I had only 9 of 20 make the cut. This time I needed 15 of 15.
Talk about pressure but I ended up going for it and in the end I got through. I had enough new work that I'd shot in the last four weeks to get me that last mile to Associate Photographer level. Wow, I'd made it and joined the 1%!
It couldn't be a better feeling and endorsement of the work I'd put in up to that point. But now that I'm there, it's time to turn my attention 100% to helping people take their personal brand to the next level. There is little more rewarding than taking someone who says "I'm not photogenic" and giving them a headshot they love. A headshot that makes them stand out from the crowd and helps to facilitate new connections, opportunity and confidence in their life.
Every person reading this needs to be thinking about their personal brand and how they show up online. A relatively small investment in a good headshot from a headshot specialist could be the first impression spark you need to kick things into high gear.
Four Years Before-and-After
Just for a little perspective.... here's one of my first headshots, and one of my most recent side-by-side. Four years of progress from "in pain" to "engaging".