AI photo generators that claim to create professional headshots show disturbing racial bias

AI generated headshot of a black woman
(Image credit: Wall Street Journal)

In an era focused on visual representation, adding a professional headshot to a resume or website can provide a personal touch. However, hiring a photographer, makeup artist, or hairstylist can be expensive with prices often in the realm of $500 - $1,000.  Artificial intelligence (AI) offers an alternative solution through image generators that can "create studio-like portraits” on the cheap but their outcomes don't always add up to the hype. 

AI programs such as Photo AI and Aragon AI analyze user-uploaded photos to craft polished headshots. However, upon testing Photo AI we were remarkably underwhelmed by the results as they didn't look similar enough to use as a professional headshot and the AI seemed to be obsessed with boobs. For people of color, there is a deeper issue of racial bias in this "convenient approach" and recent research shows that many AI-generated headshots of colored people completely change the complexion of their skin, the shape of their facial features and the style of their hair. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.