Will AI Generated Headshots Replace the REAL Thing?

Early last year, AI headshots went vial on TicTok resulting in a surge of AI programs designed to give you the ‘perfect’ fake headshot. For less that $30, you could feed the machine a variety of selfies and out comes a several variations of your likeness. But are these images really YOU?

For the last 20 years, I’ve provided professional headshots for small businesses, individuals & corporations throughout the United States. I’m often hired to replace bad headshots with decent ones. Because of my attention to detail and a refusal to settle for a fake smile, my clients sing my praises claiming I’ve provided them with the best headshot of their lives.

The experience of working with a real photographer, someone who ‘sees’ you, can not be replicated by a machine.

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traditional headshots
Authentic Headshots
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At the core, these images are nothing more than an amalgamation of images. A fushion merged together to create something which resembles the participant.

But I’d argue these images are not a valid replacement for an authentic portrait. The nuances of personality and individuality are expunged when portraits are created from a combination of images. While the final image might look similar to you, it’s not really YOU.

AI can not replace the element of working with a true photographer, someone to direct and encourage you, revealing a glimpse of your soul to the camera. AI can not generate real moments, it can only replicate and reproduce what it’s learned.

AI Botched Headshots

The Wall Street Journal posted an article about in August talking about ‘professional headshots generated by artificial intelligence are in vogue with young workers. But some women of color say the technology has misfired for them, lightening skin tones, botching hairstyles and changing facial shapes.  Suhail Doshi, the founder of Playground AI, said the service isn’t intended to be used for professional headshots: “If people are using us for that, they are going to be disappointed.”

For $12 to $50, you can upload your own photos, including selfies, into various AI platforms. These AI models then create images resembling the user in a professional context based on the uploaded photos and millions of other images they are trained on, according to AI founders.

The catch is that many Black, Latina and Asian women say AI photo misfires are going beyond well-documented technology fumbles like giving a person too many teeth or more than five fingers on a hand.’ 

So will A.I. generated Headshots replace the real thing?

In an era where digital advancements redefine the landscape of photography, AI headshots are rapidly gaining prominence, poised to replace traditional ones. While AI headshots offer the ability to seamlessly enhance facial features, adjust lighting, and even simulate various moods and expressions, these AI-generated portraits can not capture the essence of a person. They can not capture a moment in time; however, they provide a cost-effective and time-efficient solution, eliminating the need for elaborate photoshoots and extensive post-processing.

As AI continues to evolve, its capacity to generate lifelike and captivating headshots will likely revolutionize the way we perceive and immortalize human portraits, ushering in a new era of visual representation. But as a photographer who believes in authenticity, I believe there will always be a need for traditional headshots.

Here is a list of AI Headshot Generators you can try for yourself!

AI Headshot Generator, Headshot Pro, Score a New Headshot without Paying a Photographer, Transform Selfies in AI Headshots, Multiverse Headshots, Best AI Tools of 2023


the Photographer

Adrienne Maples


Kansas City photographer, Adrienne Maples, weaves together powerful narratives with her photographs to create mood and evoke emotion.


She's an AI enthusiast, passionate about teaching others how to use technology responsibly for the greater good. Known for her 'spunk & pizazz', she directs from behind her camera, finding impromptu designing to transform mediocrity into the extraordinary.


She a board member of AIGA and KCAC. As a committee member of KCDW, she organized the 2024 talks: The A.I. Asset, Creator as Curator.

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*bw photo by Sara Brennen-Harrell

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