SHABANG!
May 22, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

The Disappearing Double Chin Trick for Portrait Photography: "The key to looking good in photos? It's all about your jaw, as photographer Peter Hurley explains in this video." (YouTube, ~15 min.) Hurley's quick tips for better portraits in the NYT; Hurley's helpful headshot tips for actors. (~8 min.) Want more? FStoppers behind-the-scenes video (10 min.); an excerpt (from his DVD) of one headshot session (20 min.); a 2-hour seminar on "The Basic Headshot". An SLR Lounge interview with Hurley. (~40 min.) (main link via laughingsquid + lifehacker)
posted by flex (46 comments total) 273 users marked this as a favorite

 
I haven't had a double chin in a single photograph ever since I grew a beard.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:32 PM on May 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Peter's really got an interesting thing going on. Former model turned photographer, for one. Second, he's pretty darn expensive even for the NYC market. He also pretty much shoots in landscape orientation which is SO outside the norm these days for headshots. I happen to love his work... but I can't even tell you how many agencies and casting directors have told me flat out that they HATE his photos - and they're obviously distinctive.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:32 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine whos a wedding photographer calls the jaw trick the chicken neck. Chin, out and down. Works for me.
posted by PJMoore at 6:40 PM on May 22, 2012


Future archaeologists are going to look at pictures of people from the aughties and twenty-teens and wonder... why did so many people in pictures have larger than average heads, short necks, and fantastic jawlines? And since we're on the topic...why did so many women in the early 21 century have strange duck lips?

For the record, I tried the "chicken neck" thing in the mirror and wound up with a jawline that could cut glass. Huh.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:51 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I already have a jawline that can cut glass. I notice nothing.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:52 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


SheBANG!
posted by leotrotsky at 7:05 PM on May 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Mr. Hurley said that people always look better when they squint slightly.


Remember to "smize."
posted by louche mustachio at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I haven't had a double chin in a single photograph ever since I grew a beard.

I haven't had a double chin in a single photograph ever since I grew a third chin.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2012 [29 favorites]


When it comes to head shots, I mainly worry about bunny ears. I don't care how dignified or subtle you make them; they are disrespectful. Bunny ears are not funny.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I read somewhere that Kate Moss does this trick and describes it as leaning slightly forward to rest the chin on a shelf, and in fact, that you can sometimes hear her mutter "chin on the shelf!" to herself during shoots, to remind herself.

So obviously now my whole family and a lot of my friends chant "Chin on the shelf! Chin on the shelf!" whenever we pose for snapshots.
posted by padraigin at 7:18 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just had a headshot done. The photographer took about 40 shots to produce one or two that we both liked. She kept saying "Chin toward me!" which I had trouble interpreting; it felt ridiculous. I really wish she had just broken it down for me like this, as the narrator says. I think we all tend to think that getting a good portrait taken is about us, our level of prettiness or "photogenic"-ness, when honestly, it's mostly about performance and understanding what the camera does.
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


On it.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


As a possessor of the crimson chin of justice and chipmunk cheeks, I can't help but wonder if these videos are just false reassurances for the be-chinned, be-cheeked inhabitants of this planet.

No wonder my senior high school pictures turned out so bad.
posted by lineofsight at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a bureaucrat who is required to do head shots/portraiture on a daily basis (and, frankly, one who hasn't cared much about technique because, you know, the right camera does wonders) I look forward to watching these when I'm not at work and can have the sound on.

I do like little tricks like this; I learned a good one the other day: If you need to take a picture of an infant with their eyes open, and they're stubbornly napping or whatever, ask a parent who's holding them to give a falling sensation—the eyes snap wide open. Of course, it's a bit of a tricky proposition asking a parent to pretend to drop their newborn, but it works!
posted by carsonb at 7:36 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I already have a jawline that can cut glass. I notice nothing.

Mine is referred to as "The Hindenburg"
posted by mattoxic at 7:52 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. Maybe another hour of him explaining it would help.
posted by odinsdream at 8:16 PM on May 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


That video could have been less than 3 minutes long and conveyed exactly the same information.

But I'm gonna go stand in front of a mirror and waggle my neck around late tonight anyway.
posted by Mizu at 8:21 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


In Alexander Technique this is described as "neck free to allow the head to come forward and up" and it's not just about looking good in photos.
posted by nixt at 8:25 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Growing up in the MySpace generation (ew), this is completely second nature. I think of it more as jutting the chin out and turning the face to the side so the angle of one's left jaw is raised toward the camera. Then, as a woman subject, there is also the trick of ever-so-slightly pursing your lips (this is where duck face comes from: it's over-pursing, and it looks ridiculous) and also...how to describe? Slightly squinting yet widely opening your eyes at once? It's actually kind of deceiving, because I got so used to seeing my glorious visage in first-hand camera shots that regular photos now greatly pale in comparison.

For the record, showing off your jaw line is a pretty surefire way to get a good picture of a subject's face. It doesn't have to be a headshot, either, and is just as flattering in a group or other setting.
posted by nonmerci at 8:26 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's important to know how to pose for a photograph, and not to assume that photographer knows all this stuff. It's important to control your own image. Just the other day, I was in a photo shoot where I was pretty sure the photographer wasn't capturing my look very well, and I had to get a bit bossy about that. "Your lighting is a bit bright," I said. "Can we bring it down a notch?" I mean, I think I should have some say in how my image is being presented, wouldn't you agree? But the photographer wasn't getting it, so I just kind of let my sense of my own image take over, because that's important to me, and I just had to say "look, we're going to get this right. We are both passionate about what we do. Let's work together. Let's try some shots with me turning a little more to the left, with my forehead a little down." That's just the way I am. I'm professional about the process, you know? So it makes sense for me to suggest that I change my outfit and we try a few more soft focus shots with the wind machine. And I think the photographer really appreciated that I was trying to work the process, to tease the camera and create an image that really pops, at least until the other people at the Department of Motor Vehicles started complaining that it was taking too long to get my ID.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:31 PM on May 22, 2012 [69 favorites]


Remember to "smize."
posted by louche mustachio at 10:08 PM on May 22 [1 favorite +] [!]


I always get so annoyed when Tyra Banks tells models to "smize" - she doesn't mean just squint, she means to do some method acting and feel something! I'm watching the show, and I see all these photographers try to tell the models to be themselves, only not themselves, and you would think that at least one person would say, "it's an acting thing - you have to put yourself into the emotion of the scene and feel it, and then it will come out in your eyes".

Or just be one of those great perfomative actors who don't need to feel, who just know what to do. I have no idea how they do it.
posted by jb at 8:37 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it wrong that I think Peter Hurley is ridiculously hot? He's like a weird hybrid of Paul Rudd, Dane Cook, and The Big Lebowski with the voice of Owen Wilson...? Anyway, he's a sexy beast. It had to be said.
posted by désoeuvrée at 8:43 PM on May 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Is it wrong that I think Peter Hurley is ridiculously hot?
posted by desoeuvree


He was a model before he was a photographer, so I think your response is probably fairly accurate. It might even help his business....
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:50 PM on May 22, 2012


Aha! Well that makes sense.
posted by désoeuvrée at 8:53 PM on May 22, 2012


Is it wrong that I think Peter Hurley is ridiculously hot?

I dunno. His jawline seems weak.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:11 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I just tried this in the mirror. For a front view, it works great, but for a 3/4 view it's absolutely horrible - I'm a transwoman, and the LAST thing I want to do is to draw attention to the corners of my jaw. Still, it's a nice little trick, and one I'm honestly surprised I never stumbled across given (a) how much I use a stylization of this in my own art and (b) how much time I spend preening in front of the mirror...
posted by egypturnash at 9:16 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone send this to George Lucas.
posted by furtive at 9:22 PM on May 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Is it wrong that I think Peter Hurley is ridiculously hot?

He reminds me of a young Tom Waits.

So no, definitely not wrong at all.
posted by whitneyarner at 9:27 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's the opposite of the "Wadsworth Constant"?

Because in that first video it seems like you can skip the last 70% or 80%...or anything after he says "stick your forehead out"?

The Wadsworth Sporadic?
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:31 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> at least until the other people at the Department of Motor Vehicles started complaining that it was taking too long to get my ID.

Funny, but this is an actual problem for some of us.

I have an earlobe thing that happens. OK, my lobes are a little long, but nothing abnormal.

What happens? I call it the "Prince Valiant Effect." Basically the camera flash at the DMV hits my earlobes and casts a shadow behind me that looks like I have a medieval-style mullet, cut straight across in the back.

You wouldn't think it's funny to read about it, maybe. But to see it in person--a mostly bald guy, glasses, dressed business casual, with this crazy looking party mullet going on in the back--it gets people laughing pretty hard.

It is the craziest thing. I've never known DMV staff to really Give A Care, but this one never ceases to bring out the most comedic, helpful suggestions after the giggles are through.

This last time, I was there, I kidst thou not: After the laughs were over they got out the transparent tape. I applied it to my earlobes. They snapped another picture. Then they laughed louder. I think it worked. I can't remember and I'm not willing to look in my wallet at the moment.

Now, I know a lot about lighting and cameras and could have made some of my own suggestions right off the bat, but part of this is, I figure, my own little USO act for disgruntled DMV employees. They hold it in all day, then I come on stage with my little earlobe issue and bring the house down.
posted by circular at 9:40 PM on May 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


Don't forget to clench your butt a moment before the shot...
posted by caddis at 9:58 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this what he's talking about?
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:01 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bringing the head forward is a bit threatening, and the examples in the first video seem overdone, but it's a fair point which he makes somewhere towards the end that the unnatural pose and huge head are not that bad when you have not seen the natural, relaxed pose first.
posted by ikalliom at 12:54 AM on May 23, 2012


Is this what he's talking about?

That's how my driver's licence photo looks. I did it by accident when I was 19, and I've been doing it ever since - forehead out, chin out, head down, look up. I look like fucking Tony Stark on my licence, even though I look like Doctor Octopus really, really let himself go in real life.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:51 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present. - Lady Bracknell
posted by h00py at 4:02 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh look, one of those easily sellable Photography 101 tricks that exist to suck the soul out of any portrait you take.
posted by brilliantmistake at 5:47 AM on May 23, 2012


ridiculously hot? like a younger Tom Waits?!?!?!

dear lord, metafilter, that weed must be really good.
(for the record, i think he looks like the love child Ron Perlman and Dane Cook)
posted by liza at 5:54 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been much happier with my photographed self ever since I stopped smiling.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:10 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Peter Hurley needs a comb and some sunglasses.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:22 AM on May 23, 2012


I guess I'm the only person that instantly gets a younger Mark Boone Junior?
posted by Shepherd at 9:37 AM on May 23, 2012


That video could have been less than 3 minutes long and conveyed exactly the same information.

Crud. I just quit after I got the jist of it. Was I supposed to watch the whole thing?
posted by straight at 12:07 PM on May 23, 2012


Pete was 2 years behind me in high school (I was pretty friendly with his older brother) and he was a handsome ladies man even then. I knew he'd turned himself into a successful photographer, but seeing/hearing him after all these years, and all of this is just...just weird.
posted by jalexei at 2:12 PM on May 23, 2012


This is slightly less effective but looks less douchey: get your throat into the position its in at the apex of a swallow. Not sure everyone can control these muscles, though. Also, you pretty much have to hold your breath.
posted by O Blitiri at 5:40 PM on May 23, 2012


Wouldn't it be easier to just have fake props, like microphones, computers or trees for us jowlier folks to hide behind?
posted by gjc at 6:55 PM on May 23, 2012


desoeuvree: "Is it wrong that I think Peter Hurley is ridiculously hot? He's like a weird hybrid of Paul Rudd, Dane Cook, and The Big Lebowski with the voice of Owen Wilson...? Anyway, he's a sexy beast. It had to be said."

I'm hoping you mean the Dude, who is not "Mr. Lebowski." (And I agree!)
posted by theredpen at 5:35 AM on May 24, 2012


Oh yeah, I meant the Dude! I didn't say Jeff Bridges because I don't know if I've seen him in anything else, and the resemblance is such that I could imagine it not carrying over to Jeff Bridges the person, necessarily.
posted by désoeuvrée at 2:55 PM on May 26, 2012


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