AI-Generated Headshots: A Cheap Alternative, But Can They Replace Photographers?


Social media users have found a new way to get the perfect headshot for their LinkedIn profiles without breaking the bank. They’re turning to artificial intelligence (AI) technology to generate polished and realistic portraits for less than $20.

Crystal D. Bright, a virtual interior designer, took to TikTok on March 11 to share her experience using a website called TryitonAI. By submitting photos of her face to train the AI model, she received curated headshots in a variety of different settings and styles within a few days. And the best part? She paid just $17 for 100 headshots.

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Bright’s video went viral, racking up over 1.8 million views and leaving TikTok users in awe of the AI-generated headshots. Viewers were quick to praise the technology for its convenience and low cost, with some joking, “AI coming for photography jobs, too.”

But not everyone is thrilled with the idea of AI taking over the photography industry. One viewer, a professional photographer, lamented, “These are nice, but as a professional photographer, this makes me sad. I fear our profession is in danger.” 

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Others are certain AI won't put photographers out of work. They argue the art of photography is about capturing emotions and telling a story through images. These images lack the emotional connection that a human photographer can create. AI-generated headshots can never capture the essence of a moment like a human photographer can.

The absence of human interaction is often cited as the reason behind the artificial feel of AI-generated headshots. Critics argue that these images can appear impersonal and devoid of emotions, which is a big concern for industries such as fashion and advertising that rely heavily on emotive imagery.

Despite the limitations of AI in art, companies like RAD-AI are focused on using AI for authentic and emotionally intelligent marketing. RAD uses AI technology to analyze consumer emotions and create personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with them.

Corporate headshot photographers, in particular, may face increased competition from AI, forcing them to adapt and diversify their services. As photographer Amy Lombard puts it in a witty Medium article, “Photographers need to think about how they can differentiate themselves and offer something unique that AI cannot replicate — like a charming personality, for example.”

With customization, light detection and ranging (Lidar) and augmented reality (AR) integration on the horizon, professionals will need to stay informed and adapt to stay ahead of the curve. Embracing these changes could be the key to photographers offering clients new and exciting services while maintaining the personal touch that sets their work apart.

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