Are Ai Generated Headshots Better Than A Professional Photographer?

Last week, a client shared his disappointment with his AI-generated headshot, which didn’t quite meet his expectations, nor did it impress anyone else who saw it, including his wife and myself. This incident reminds me of Boris Elgadsen, a German programmer who surprised everyone by winning the Sony World Photography Awards in 2023 with what turned out to be an AI-generated image, not a traditional photograph. This raises the question: my customer didn’t like his experience, but then AI fooled Sony and all the judges, so what is the future of headshot photography are AI Generated headshots better than a professional photographer?

The Electrician

The World Of AI-Generated Portraits Today

Companies like Rosebud AI and Generated Photos are leading the charge in creating lifelike images using advanced algorithms. These platforms allow for extensive customization of features such as facial expressions, clothing, and backgrounds. The development of tools like OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 has significantly pushed the boundaries of what’s possible, producing images so realistic they can fool even the sharpest eyes.

The World Of Portrait Photographers

Companies such as our own Art of Headshots, photographer teams like Headshots Crew led by Peter Hurley in New York, or the timeless photos by Yusuf Karsh and Annie Leibovitz, to mention a few, are created through complicated steps that involve lighting, exposure, and more importantly, connection. These portraits are like spiritual logos, providing intangible connections between the viewer and the subject.


The Upsides Of AI Portraits

AI-generated images come with a few clear benefits:

  • Affordability: They’re more budget-friendly than hiring a professional photographer.
  • Flexibility: You can play around with different styles and settings easily.
  • Convenience: These portraits are quick to produce, cutting down on the need for scheduling and planning shoots.

The Downsides Of AI Portraits

However, my client’s experience highlights some notable limitations. AI struggles to capture the depth of human emotion and the subtle nuances that a skilled photographer can bring out. The true essence of a portrait comes from the interaction and connection between the photographer and the subject, which AI currently cannot replicate.

Why Professional Photography Holds Its Ground

Despite the rise of AI, there’s still a strong demand for professional photography. Professional photographers offer not just technical skill but also a creative eye that ensures the final image is both beautiful and meaningful. Their ability to connect personally with subjects often results in more authentic and emotionally resonant portraits.

Looking Ahead: The Intersection Of AI And Photography

The future doesn’t have to be about choosing between AI and traditional photography. Instead, photographers can look at AI as a tool to enhance their work, from streamlining editing processes to experimenting with new creative techniques. Keeping up with technological advances allows photographers to stay relevant and innovative.


While AI portraits offer convenience, speed, and affordability, they still fall short of capturing the emotional depth and authenticity that come from professional photography. This comparison doesn’t just highlight the current limitations of AI but also underscores the irreplaceable value of the human touch in photography. As we move forward, the potential for photographers to blend their expertise with AI promises an exciting new chapter in the evolution of portrait photography.

James R. Baylis

I wasn’t succeeding with my old headshot until ‘Art of Headshots’. My first audition I landed a role in Pirates of the Caribbean, my second audition it was X-Files and my career started… Now I have a role in Altered Carbon and a career as a film actor.


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