Peter Hurley Shares His ‘Most Incredible Tip for Looking Photogenic': Squinching

Back in February of 2012, portraitist Peter Hurley shared an awesome tutorial that showed how to accentuate your subject’s jawline in portraits and instantly make them look much more photogenic. That video went insanely viral amongst photographers, and now, Hurley has finally released a followup in which he shares what he calls “his most incredible tip for looking photogenic.”

The first video was called “It’s all about the Jaw.” This one is called “It’s all about the Squinch.” Okay, so we all know what a Jaw is, but what the heck is Squinching!?

Squinching is a term Hurley made up (although it’s actually in the dictionary…), and for him it describes the action of squinting your eyes in such a way as to portray confidence and self-assurance as opposed to the fear and uncertainty that you project when you stare wide-eyed at the camera.

Here are a few before-and-after examples pulled from the video that show the difference a bit of squinching can make:





One final clarifying point, and Hurley is big on this: squinching isn’t the same as squinting! The difference is minor but important. When you squint, your top and bottom eyelids close up and your eyes end up all but disappearing — you look neither confident nor self-assured.

With ‘squinching,’ you’re lifting and tightening the lower eyelid, while only letting the top one come down a hair. It might seem like a slight difference (and it is) but it’s a big deal when you get in front of the camera.

There you go: famous headshot and portrait photographer Peter Hurley has now given you TWO ways to look way more photogenic in pictures. So check out the full tutorial to get a bunch more before-and-after comparisons and even a science lesson on how this works, and then go out and try it yourself.

Whether you’re the photographer or the photographed, it seems you can never go wrong with a little squinching.

(via ISO 1200)

  • harumph

    Anyone who’s ever watched America’s Top Model has seen Tyra Banks demonstrate this technique to the models over and over again. Except I think she just calls it her “fierce” look. Plus she does it way better than any of the models shown above.

  • jonk

    is this what tyra banks calls “smizing”? (honestly, i don’t know what smizing is, but i know it involves eyes)

  • jonk

    ha exactly what i was thinking!

  • harumph

    I think you might be right about “smizing” or maybe “smeyesing.”

  • TC

    Blue Steel

  • Jim Macias

    Not sure if stoned, constipated, or squinching.

  • Nathan Blaney

    The Dirty Harry look, I guess. Throw in a bit of Han Solo. Yep.

  • Fernando

    This is sh*t. The portraits look weird and even the person looks like he’s thinking in an evil way. The best thing to look photogenic is just be yourself and it depends on the photographer to capture the best of the person.

  • Nathan Blaney

    Also, Christopher Meloni is a master of this look.

  • Omar Salgado

    I agree with you.

    The portraits that Hurley does are appealing, but I think his aim is not to provide a portrait that catches and expresses the inner self of the person being photographed. Instead, what I see in his portraits is a projection of Hurley himself.

    (Both Jacques Prévert and Gaspard-Félix Tournachon said something about portraiture, but I find it hard to translate those words to English.)

    The point is that a true portrait is done not in a session, but through a span of time during which you know the subject not superficially, but in a deeper way, in their own life. A Mexican photographer, whose name I don’t remember, has taken this approach; he even said that a portrait took him 20 years to be what he really thought it expressed about his subject, and I find his portraits really enticing and beautiful, all in black and white.

    Hurley reminds me of André Adolphe Disdéri: the approach on portraiture seeking benefits based on production models, like a factory, but in this case, an imagery factory.

    Nothing wrong on wanting profit; but photography, for some of us, is not just formulas, fame and profit: it is an execuse to get involved and know the world around us; it’s a means for something deeper.

  • eritreo

    look like if everyone have to poo.

  • sam

    nice tutorial,
    saw the good and bad comments,
    but i still learn a lot from his video
    and, nice energy too!!

  • tonyc0101

    idk, looks like some of them are giving us the stink eye, lol.

  • Imagelabz

    Don’t like the look, most images look better without squinching. some look t outright constipated. Like others have said, it’s his own projection he’s realising.

  • Pera Peric

    You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    The portraits on the left look way better.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    RIP headphone users :(

  • Jonathan Fox


  • Pepe Roni

    Who the hell says Sha-Bam??

  • Muaz Al Rashid

    Didn’t Tyra coin this as “Smizing” (Smiling with your eyes).. aeons ago?

  • Branden Frederick

    It also helps if you look attractive

  • Charles

    I think Disney called it the “smoulder”.

  • Zos Xavius

    Whatever happened to capturing the essence of someone or at least a variety of their expressions? All this does is make everyone look the same with the same look and expression, and quite honestly its extremely overdone. I mean how many of these people make that face in real life? I like the ones on the left better in many of the cases given here. The ones on the right look forced.

  • rtorblephoto

    Peter’s clients are usually actors and the type. They are trying to promote themselves and they need to show confidence. As Peter says, confidence comes from the eyes. He used to be a successful model, he knows. So, he has a way of helping people look more confident through their eyes. It works, his clients will get more work from it.

  • PookyBear

    To me, squinching is like what you do with your eyes when you smile, even though you’re not smiling. It’s like a slight eye smile!

  • smach


  • Andrew Kandel

    Perfected by Derek Zoolander.

  • Mimi Champlin

    A complete pantload…everyone doing it looks ridiculous, self-absorbed and as though they’re using a timer to do a selfie. STUPID.

  • Jim Macias

    Don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

  • Rob Howard

    Wait, so the images on the right are supposed to be the better ones? Not as far as I’m concerned.

    On the left is me, on the right is me trying to fart without following through.

  • rtorblephoto
  • Greg Lovern

    The portraits on the left, with their wider eyes, look better than those on the right.

  • Artem Russakovskii

    Squinching just makes you look like a douche.

  • Jim Macias

    Left Side: Let’s go to the fair, play games, and eat ice cream.
    Right Side: Then afterwards go to my place throw on some Barry White and *%&^.

  • Dez

    Hurley is a headshot photographer, almost exclusively. He’s very successful and and that success comes more from his personality than technical skill (there’s nothing wrong with that, btw). He has the ability to make his clients relax and feel comfortable, which allows him to get a nice, natural look from them. His “Squinching” technique is what most portrait photographers would call “smiling with your eyes”, or sometimes shortened (horribly) to “Smizing”. There’s nothing new to this technique, but Hurley is very good with clients because of his great personality and acting background. In the end, it’s the results that matter and people love his work and the experience of sitting with him. He makes getting a headshot fun for his clients, when normally it’s not something people look forward to, which is why he’s one of the highest paid headshot photographer in NYC.

  • Roy Niles

    I squinched here but it didn’t help.

  • jgemberton

    Aren’t “most” people that require quality headshots douches?

  • Me

    Le Tigre, Bitches!

  • Guest

    I always called it “Jaden Smith-ing”….

  • Jason K

  • Steve Wilson

    The thing that really annoys me is that people who profess to be professionals use a rubbish platform like YouTube. It’s painful. Real pros use Vimeo or similar. Waiting for YouTube to buffer its annoying little segments is infuriating.

  • WKYA_Radio

    blame youtube dude

  • pmonkey


  • Steve Downing

    A bazillion years ago when I did some modeling I always described this as “smiling with your eyes.” Some got it, most did not. They have the equipment but don’t know how to use the muscles separately. Thanks for using the sledgehammer teaching technique. If I’m ever on a shoot again I’ll be able to teach this better.

  • Tyler Durdin

    Is it squinching? Or looking stoned?

  • Sid Ceaser

    WWDSD? (What Would Detective Stabler Do?) no no, WWDSS; What Would Detective Stabler Squinch.

  • Sid Ceaser

    Real pros use Vimeo? I had no idea. What kind of cameras do real pros use? How about lights? What kind of pencils to real pros write with? What kind of kleenex do real pros use? Gosh darn, I think I’m doing it all wrong! Sha-Boom! Oh, no, wait, real pros say “Sha-Bang!”.

    Everything has been a lie!

  • Omar Salgado

    I may repeat that it is not that he is “helping people look more confident through their eyes”, but it is the projection of what he believes confidence is. Indeed, confidence is based on social traits, and those social traits are not abstract or lying in the air eternally: they are historically produced and maintained, so, those poses and gestures are not Hurley’s, but a knowledge acquired through his career as a model and, now, as a photographer.

    I like his work, I must say it is really nice. But I have to question: are the portrayed really themselves? Is it more of a mould than of genuine expression? How do the portrayed see themselves after a long period of time in the representation?

    My reference to Disdéri was primordialy taken to this discussion because, after examining the technical, social, cultural and political conditions of photography short after its birth, relatively speaking, and the method and work of Disderi, one can see the fortune he made by taking photography as a business (and factory) model. And I repeat that there is nothing wrong with it. One has to find the solutions that are brought about with the least effort. Patterns of squinching, posing, acting, etc. are the mould. Now, this mould is going to be wasted as more and more people find it attractive and easy. We may end up with a load of similar portraits telling nothing about the subject but much about the mould, something akin to the cat photos that get instant gratification, but are nothing more. If we are to please the client, it is totally valid; but if we are to try to leave something that withstands the pass of time, we may take another approach, another model.

    If one takes into account the work and approach of Nadar, one notices he was a painter and he took all that background and savvy to be used in photography. And that’s the main difference between a person that considers photography as a business and another that considers it as an genuine approach to their subject.

    I don’t do much portraiture, but when I do, my approach is getting to know who the portrayed is, and I’ve found that usually the person in front of the lens is not used to be observed. Do you remember your first self-portraits? So I take false shots all the time until they don’t care anymore and begin to be themselves instead of dictate them to “squinch”, “smize”, pose like this, pose like that, etc, because in the end, and the beginning, I am projecting what my taste is. Yet, finding a representation that fits them is not easy thing.

  • belairjeff

    i’ve been doing this since 2004. ask me about it and i’ll share my story…

  • Markoff

    great advice if you want to look like arrogant prick

  • Taint SEPA

    Now I know why Brad PItt always looks weird. Seriously folks, this is the new duckface. Note how it doesn’t work on the first example after the video – which guy do you want to meet? Which one would you hire? Looks like a real jerk with the squinching imo.