Will AI Destroy the Skilled Headshot Trade?

The world is ablaze with discuss of ChatGPT, one of many newest AI (synthetic intelligence) functions revolutionizing all the pieces from analysis and copywriting to weblog and advert creation to college essays. Observed or unnoticed, these functions have seeped into almost each a part of our world.

In case you’re knowledgeable headshot photographer, you’re most likely properly conscious of this already. AI-generated photographs and headshots are starting to floor in pictures. Some might even declare that AI-generated headshots are literally higher than photographs photographers take.

Are they proper? And is there even a spot for AI in our subject?

The reply to those questions is not any… and sure.

Photograph by Jeremy Bustin.

When AI Imitates Artwork

The actual fact is, I may have used ChatGPT to jot down this text (however I didn’t). I may have used an AI app to generate my headshot (I by no means would, and I by no means will).


In its present kind, AI is simply the sum of its dataset. It’s incapable of unique, distinctive views.

In terms of headshot pictures, which means that AI can by no means see you—it may well solely duplicate what others have executed earlier than. AI can by no means deliver out the very best in you. It might by no means look previous the shortcomings of what others have captured and identify your true essence: “That is who I’m.”

An expert photographer sees one thing and brings to life a visible artifact that tells a narrative and captures an actual assembly of two people in a selected time and area.

AI merely imitates the previous.

Photograph by Jeremy Bustin.

A Temporary Journey to the Mall

I could also be courting myself right here, however there was a time when a headshot meant a visit to the mall and a vaguely uncomfortable session with a mediocre photographer.

I’m certain there have been stars on this enterprise mannequin who genuinely cared about what they had been doing and created nice classes for his or her purchasers. However that was not the norm. And I feel that is the closest factor to a very nice headshot that AI can accomplish.

Images is artwork.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a headshot, a panorama, an album cowl, or one thing solely completely different.

Simply as each stroke of the paintbrush in a Picasso, Michelangelo, or da Vinci portray provides a novel perspective revealing what’s seen via the artist’s eyes, there are refined nuances a photographer can seize that AI can not replicate.

Contemplate it this fashion: Would you favor to purchase a portray that’s an amalgamation derived from the work of others, or an unique masterpiece from a good artist? The previous shouldn’t be significantly better than a paint-by-number.

Would you belief AI to seize the second a groom sees his bride for the primary time on their wedding ceremony day? In fact not!

The emotion of the second is one thing that may’t be replicated by a pc. And it’s that second that photographers reside for.

Timing is all the pieces in pictures, and a small element makes all of the distinction in emulating feelings and capturing the essence of our purchasers.

Photograph by Jeremy Bustin.

The Distinction is within the Shoot

When a shopper walks into my Atlanta headshot studio, they’re often nervous. For some, it’s their first time sitting down with knowledgeable. They’re usually shy about what they need, how they need to seem—the picture that they need to current to the world.

I imagine that each human has a imaginative and prescient of their true self inside. A way of the power, dignity, hope, and beauty that they possess. However all of us have psychological defenses that hold our fullest selves at the very least partially hidden.

It’s the job of the photographer to open up their topic and seize what’s inside.

Good studios are providing an expertise, not only a product. The photographer is a conductor and a director partaking and shaping the shopper to launch their reservations and specific their unmasked selves.

Those that have by no means labored with headshot photographer might not notice {that a} good session is a luxurious expertise. Not simply because some studios supply cocktails, glowing water, and curated music—however as a result of because the shopper all the pieces within the photoshoot is designed to make you appear and feel your very best.

AI can’t try this, as a result of the AI expertise is transactional. The objective is pragmatic—to supply outcome with the least quantity of effort and time.

There’s nothing unsuitable with that—in actual fact, there’s an essential marketplace for it, identical to there’s a marketplace for Nice Clips and a marketplace for boutique salons and barbershops.

Photograph by Jeremy Bustin.
Photograph by Jeremy Bustin.

Will AI Drive Us Out of Enterprise?

On the finish of the day, is AI going to destroy the skilled headshot trade? No.

However will it change the trade? Clearly, the reply is “Sure.”

There’ll all the time be a marketplace for high-end headshots as a result of the studio expertise and the ultimate product merely can’t be replicated.

What AI opens up is a chance for all of the individuals who had been okay with average-quality photographs—the individuals who had been by no means going to spend cash on a high-quality photograph within the first place—to look just a little higher.

As a headshot photographer and studio proprietor, I’m okay with that. Actually, I welcome it.

As extra folks begin utilizing AI for his or her headshots, it would grow to be tougher to face out from the group. And that’s the place pretty much as good photographers, we shine.

Concerning the creator: Jeremy Bustin is a professional headshot photographer based mostly in Atlanta who helps business professionals and actors stand out with portraits made to affect choice makers. His mission is to place potential purchasers one click on away from knowledgeable headshot they’re proud to share.

Picture credit: Header illustration photographs from Depositphotos