The threat that generative AI poses to artists has been widely discussed, both here in my Everydays journal and across the Internet. But it’s not just artists whose output is being replicated by AI. Photographers are at risk as well.
Previously, I covered PhotoRoom’s Magic Studio tool, an AI-powered product photography platform that enables you to create endless product photographs from one still image. However, it goes much deeper. Text-to-image generative art models are being applied to photography as a whole, making it easy to generate realistic portraits of people.
I recently discovered both ProfilePicture.ai and AvatarAI.me – websites that allow you to create realistic headshots, selfies, and profile pictures of humans, cats, dogs, and couples. Like the rest of the Creative AI industry, ProfilePicture.ai and AvatarAI.me use generative AI (or GANs).
You provide a training set of at least 10 photos of yourself, you and your partner, a stranger, or your pet. Their AI is trained on this set. And then, they generate over 168 different profile picture styles for you to download.
A similar tool called PhotoAI even offers themed packs of generated selfies, including a LinkedIn Pack, Tinder Pack, Polaroid Pack, Royal Pack, Movie Pack, and Meme Packs. Each pack, thus, corresponds to what users may want to do with their generated profile pictures.
The Reddit user, u/SRIBES, recently went viral for his post discussing how he changed all of his Tinder photos to AI-generated photos of himself (see below):
Tinder aside, these tools will have untold effects on professional photographers and studios.
We’ve already seen AI change the stock photography business. ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com and Generated Photos both offer stock photos of people that aren’t real. Companies use these generated people for testimonials, web design, and even to create fake employees. But this impact was felt with fake people. How much larger will the impact be when applied to real people?
Think of all the independent photographers and studios specializing in person-focused photography. Professional headshots, family portraits, engagement photos, social content, baby photos, and boudoir can all be semi-automated with generative AI tools.
At a flat rate of $29 for ProfilePicture.ai and $19 for PhotoAI, these tools are far cheaper than what it costs for a photoshoot. They remove the need for a customer to travel to a photo set and spend hours posing for photos. There’s no editing turnaround time. And the customer receives a massive breadth of photo styles that would normally require dozens of different photo sets or locations.
For these reasons, tools like ProfilePicture.ai and PhotoAI are going to quickly become a no-brainer for anyone in need of high-quality profile photos. Not to mention, with over 3,500 customers, it’s clear that ProfilePicture.ai has proved there’s a market for AI-generated profile pictures.
The Problem With Photo Databases
Peter Levels brought up a great point about the potential dangers of us mass-uploading our selfies to generative AI databases without being cognisant of repercussions:
Many artists whose work is found in the training sets for generative AI worry that their art style is being replicated and will eventually drown out their own work. Likewise, if we don’t take the steps to remove our selfies from AI apps, then any of us can experience a deluge of deepfakes of ourselves on the Internet.
On the flip side, I think there’s an opportunity to use this same conundrum to reinvent influencer marketing. Those with followings could one day be able to license their likeness to a platform like ProfilePicture.ai and allow anyone (for a fee and pending approval) to generate influencer marketing campaigns with that person of interest in product photos.
Overall, the ability to use generative AI to create selfies, headshots, and profile pictures of real people is revolutionary. Of all the Creative AI tools, AI-generated photography feels like the first true mainstream use case because we all take so many photos ourselves already, and automating it is a value-add for billions of people.