Peter Hurley on Helping a “Human of New York” and the Importance of a Go-To Lighting Kit

Posted by on Thursday December 10, 2015 | Lighting, Photo Gear

Sponsored by FJ Westcott

Peter Hurley has a talent for capturing faces. The model-turned-photographer is known by many for his headshot work and popular YouTube headshot tutorials. But Hurley also has a knack for putting smiles on faces, too, as evidenced by a recent headshot session with New York City-based actor Richard Ryker.

Hurley first heard of Ryker and his recent struggle to find work via Humans of New York, the popular website and Facebook page founded by photographer Brandon Stanton, which features street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York City. Hurley was drawn to his story and reached out to him to offer new headshots. With Ryker on board, Hurley invited him in for a studio session.

Hurley says he immediately noticed Ryker’s striking facial features, and set up his signature lighting to best capture them. The setup has even become its own official kit: Westcott’s Peter Hurley 4-Light Flex Kit. The kit includes four of Westcott’s innovative Flex LED mats, four modular Scrim Jim Cine Frames, extension cables, diffusion, mounting hardware, studs and a durable travel case to package it all up.

© Peter Hurley

Actor Richard Ryker / © Peter Hurley

This water-resistant, lightweight lighting kit was developed by Westcott and Hurley as an easy-to-use, complete solution for high-quality headshots. “When I’m working with a face like [Ryker’s], I love to be able to fine-tune my lights to give me the precise highlights, as well as the shadow density that I’m looking for,” Hurley says. “Complete control with the Flex Kit is what it’s all about.” The Flex LED mat’s 140-degree light output provides a wide angle of light spread, and the dimmer allows him to adjust the light output from 5 to 100 percent. In addition, 16-foot extension cables are included with the kit, giving Hurley complete flexibility. It’s this flexibility that allows him to focus on working with his subject. “As I nail the lighting, I’m also simultaneously digging into my subject to pull out interesting expressions,” he explains.

Another aspect of the Flex Kit that Hurley benefits from when shooting are the high-quality LED lights that line the surface of the Flex mat. These LEDs offer between 1,700 to 10,500 lux at one meter (depending on the mat size), while boasting a high color purity: With the daylight version boasting a CRI of 95, and the Tungsten/Bi-Color version coming in at 98, these LEDs portray precise shades and skin tones for faster post-production editing. With this kit, Hurley says that shaping light on Ryker’s face was “incredible.” Hurley believes that the headshots should help open some doors for the actor.

© Peter Hurley

© Peter Hurley

Hurley refers to his Flex Kit as his “gopher” light, a light that you “go for” when you have a big shoot on your hands. Having a kit that’s easy to set up ahead of time affords more time to handle all of the other little things that arise. “There are enough variables coming into the fray on a big job, and [light] is one that you don’t want to mess with the day of the shoot,” he says.

The Westcott Peter Hurley 4-Light Flex Kit is available for purchase now. Westcott also has bi-color units available, as well as smaller units that can be operated using a battery. Visit for more details.

© Peter Hurley

Peter Hurley with the Peter Hurley 4-Light Flex Kit / © Peter Hurley

What’s in the Kit?



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