Portraitist Peter Hurley recounts past as racing sailor, Ralph Lauren model before he picked up a camera

by Liam McCabe

posted Friday, May 2, 2014 at 11:50 AM EDT


Even high-profile portrait photographers need to start somewhere. For Peter Hurley, it was in a racing sailboat, then a Ralph Lauren catalog, then a bar, then a sailboat again, and finally in his own studio apartment, with camera in-hand.

Hurley sat down for a 12-minute interview in the #BehindtheGlass series, telling the story of how he just sort of fell into photography after his modeling and Olympic sailing careers ended. Gradually, he’s built a reputation as one of the top headshot photographers in the world, and has developed teaching and speaking careers alongside it.


He also offers up a few tips on what he thinks makes for great headshots. Mainly, it's the expressions, and making models comfortable in front of the camera so that they look their best. It's a lesson he learned early on from working as a model with Bruce Weber on a catalog shoot.

This guy is a great storyteller, and it’s almost funny to hear him talk so casually about his past, pivoting into a top photographer after already having made the US sailing team, and working as a model. Consider it your dose of Friday inspiration.

(Via PetaPixel, ISO 1200)