I Tried an AI Photoshoot So You Don’t Have To – BONUS: Better Alternatives

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Gosh, this is flipping WILD! This may be the wildest thing I’ve ever seen. And No, it’s NOT GOOD.

Let me start with the WHY. I have heard from many new and emerging photographers, frightened photographers, that they’re afraid AI will take their jobs. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that this won’t happen. But as I live my life by this rule, images speak louder than words. So I thought I’d just show you all how absolutely dismal AI is at a professional photoshoot.

AI is not taking photographers’ jobs any time soon. And here’s why:

1. The results are wildly inaccurate.

I ran 20 professional images through AI to receive 100 images back for the bargain price of $17 USD (just a touch under $27 AUD). The images that I fed into that system were very high resolution, accurately lit, sharp, detailed and crisp. They were wonderful examples of high resolution, professional head shots. The AI engine that I used Try It On AI, asked for 20 headshots with no hands, different outfits and poses and NO REPEAT backgrounds. So to begin with I had to use images from multiple shoots and smartphone selfies did not fit into the template.

What I received back was hilarious. I mean I’ve been sitting here for close to an hour pissing myself laughing. They look NOTHING like me.

I think the reason people are maybe flushing $17 down the toilet on these websites is because NONE of the examples on the site are of people they actually know in person. Anyone who knows me will look at these and just know that something is OFF. Maybe if you’re a stranger on the internet you will think they’re ok. But they’re SO NOT OK.

Let me start with what I DO look like:

Not a model by any standards, but I do like the way I look. I have a round face, a thin top lip and big blue eyes (my favourite part). Please also note the number of teeth (normal) and the colour and shape of my eyes (also normal) – this will be important later. Some of these were the high quality images I fed into the artificial intelligence and some weren’t suitable according to their strict guidelines.

Out of all 100 images I received, this is the one I feel looks the most like me in real life. However it’s still pretty far off as far as body shape, eye colour, hair style and cut, weight and overall look is concerned. I think I look like an over-stuffed Sandra Bullock and that makes me wonder if she was the donor image that was used to create this. You see AI can’t conjure an image from thin air, it sort of mashes information together from multiple images to create something new.


2. AI doesn’t understand age, race, or other unique identifying features.

They’re great entertainment, but that’s about all they’re good for.

One of the images I came out a different race. My husband is Asian, but I most certainly am not. Hilariously a friend also fed one of my photos into AI last week and said I kept coming back Asian. The subtleties of race are completely lost on AI.

I came back with more than 20 teeth across the front of my mouth. In some images you could see the ghost of teeth in my lips. I’m not sure which is worse. And look at those eyes, they’re terrifying. I am a skin walker.

It changed my hair colour, my skin colour and my eye colour, If you look closely my eyes are even two different colours here! I am also a big chested girl and this version has me as a flat chested lady. And is that a bellybutton in my arm pit?

It aged me and did weird things to my skin. This is someone else’s neck and body and it looks very different to my own shape.

3. People can tell that they’re AI generated images.

If you want people to look at your professional images (profile photos, headshots, website photos etc) and know at the first glance that it’s not really you, then go for it: but that would not be great for creating trust.
What you should be doing, is creating imagery that shows your audience what to expect when they meet you in person to do business.

This is not me, and if I showed this image on my website and turned up they might be confused. If they even agree to meet with me, this photo makes it look like I might eat their brains.

4. AI doesn’t understand your UVP (unique value proposition) or unique story.
These teeth remind me of a yellow picket fence and my arm looks painted into that dress ^^^^
It can’t send the message you want to send to your audience. AI doesn’t have a personality and it definitely can’t recognise yours.
5. AI doesn’t take the time to learn what your goals are for your photoshoot.
This is Ooh Lilly Perfeshunal Barnd Phertergrerpher ^^^
With any Oh Tilly Brand Session, strategy is included before we even shoot. During our strategy we work out the different images, moods, lighting, stories, messages etc that your brand needs to tell in order to grow and achieve your goals. This session is a little like a mini brand coaching sesh. Then we create your own Bespoke shot list and shoot those images!
Again, that looks NOTHING like me! ^^^

So what are some better alternatives to an AI photoshoot.

Of course the first best option is a professional who knows how to convey the message you need to convey in order to grow your brand. But this isn’t always in the budget.
You could try taking quality images on your smartphone.
When I started in digital photography in 2004, the quality of a multiple thousand dollar, professional quality digital camera still wasn’t as good as today’s smartphones.
As long as your lighting is good, the background and foreground aren’t cluttered and you look presentable, smartphone photos are far superior to an AI photoshoot.
Plan Your Own DIY Brand Shoot

This will take some time and planning (check out the Oh Tilly Blog for loads of tips on planning), but it’s still a bit more affordable than hiring a pro. Set aside the time to create a few different looks, locations, outfits and props. Take loads of images on your smartphone or a camera if you’re good at using it (if not please use the latest smartphone as the results are guaranteed to be better).


Grab a mini tripod and remote control for your smartphone

If you’re going to DIY there are so many $20 selfie stick/tripods that have a bluetooth remote as well. You can use these to take images of yourself from many different angles without the need for a timer. It’s an excellent investment for great photos on a budget.


Hire a professional Retoucher to work on your selfies

There are many amazing quality retouchers that you can find on websites like Freelancer or Fiverr who can retouch your selfies and make them look amazing. This is still a fraction of the price of a professional photoshoot.


AI Photos are fun, but not fit for professional use. There are still too many clunky mistakes that make the images look non-human and they can’t tell your brand story or set you apart from your competitors in a great way.
AI is still making fundamental mistakes when rendering humans. We have less than 40 teeth across the front of our mouths and MOST of us have eyes that are just one colour.

If you are in a position where you don’t feel confident spending the money on a professional branding photoshoot (ie you are unsure of your brand’s future), selfies, smartphone photoshoots, a cheap tripod with bluetooth remote shutter and a freelance retoucher are a much better option than AI.

And all those fearful photographers out there who are afraid AI is going to take your jobs – don’t be.


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