We’ve hardly gone a day recently without artificial intelligence learning something spooky. While ChatGPT has been putting the powers of AI into the hands of college students and Tinder swipers alike, other AI solutions have been busy changing the way we do everything from stock photo generation to deep fake videos of presidents playing Minecraft. Now, a new AI tool is offering to take a corporate task off your hands: your LinkedIn headshot.
When I first heard about AI headshots, I was pretty skeptical. After all, the photo editing seen on social media these days can really get excessive, and some of the previous AI photo editing trends have looked cool, but not exactly realistic. Even so, the idea of getting 100 headshots for less than $20 – and not even having to have pictures taken – was too good to pass up.
How It Works
The set-up is so simple you almost think you’re doing wrong. I used the website TryItOn.Ai, but there are tons of solutions out there to test out. You begin by uploading unedited, unfiltered, photos of your face in different lighting and poses, and without interfering props like hats or sunglasses on your head. If the photo isn’t already a selfie, the app has you crop so that just your face is showing (especially if other people are in the picture).
From there, good luck finding photos the software will actually accept. I thought I had a million options, but I had a pretty tough time finding ones without other people or that were large enough image files. Since an AI model has to learn from a data set (in this case, photos of you) you do want to pick photos where you like the angle and are okay with the way your face looks. Otherwise, you’ll be teaching it to replicate shots you already dislike.
Next, you select the styles you want the “photo shoot” to have. They’ve got just about everything you’d want in a professional headshot (and several styles you probably wouldn’t). You have to pick a minimum of two, and the final 100 headshots you receive will end up divided up between the ones you choose.
Results: The Good...
The photos don’t come back immediately, partly because of processing time. So after 24 hours of anxiously waiting, I finally received an album of photos that honestly creeped me out a bit. Not all of them were terrible. Honestly, the hardest part about staring at AI images of yourself is that they never quite look like you. Maybe it’s because you know they’re totally fake, or maybe it’s the slight “uncanny valley” effect, but they’ll likely always seem a little more real for other people. Funnily enough, the one thing that the AI picked up on particularly well was one of my personal touches: I pretty much always wear the exact same necklace and earrings.
The reason they give you so many headshots is simple: A lot of them are horrible. Truly awful. We all know that AI isn’t the greatest with things like hands, but apparently it can struggle a lot with clothing and eyes too. A lot of the headshots had arms disappearing into the ether, clothing that didn’t seem like it was fully in this side of the Matrix, or just plain looked like a different person.
...and the Creepy
I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid to see a photo of myself, but some of the results were downright unsettling. AI really does still struggle with eyes, so some results came out looking like a straight-up lizard person, and others just looked ominous.
While we’ve seen a lot of talk about AI stealing jobs, especially those of artists and other creatives, my experience with getting an AI headshot was that the job of photographers is very safe for the time being. The headshots I received, while entertaining, are nothing I’d feel comfortable using for formal photos, even if they’re fine for things like LinkedIn profile pictures and similar avatars. If you’re looking to technology for your next photo shoot, definitely temper your expectations. Technology has come a long way, but AI’s headshot capabilities got stuck somewhere in the middle of “uncanny valley.”
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