Headshot Smackdown: AI vs. Professional vs. Smartphone

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The Big Smoke takes on the battle for the perfect professional headshot, comparing AI, professional photographers, and smartphones to discover which option takes the crown.

In the age of digital dominance, putting your best face forward has never been more crucial. Whether you’re gunning for that dream job, pimping your LinkedIn profile, or simply wanting to make a strong impression (and just look your best), the question is: what’s the best way to make it happen? 

Is it the ever trusty smartphone, the seasoned professional photographer, or the emerging world of AI tech? 

Here’s the low-down – or the smackdown – of each.

Professional Headshots: The Polished Pioneer


  • The professional headshot can enhance your brand image and improve customer trust. High-quality photos make you look professional and can set you apart from the competition.
  • Photographers have the skill to put you at ease, find your best side, offer state of the art equipment and lighting, and capture relaxed portraits that show you at your best.
  • Being primped and treated like a celebrity can be great for your confidence, and if doing it with your team, a great group bonding exercise – and a little fun! 
  • In the sea of selfies and holiday snaps on LinkedIn, a professional headshot can make you stand out and project exactly the professional image you want to convey.


  • Quality comes at a price, and professional photography can cost a small fortune. If you’re on a tight budget, other options may be a smarter choice.
  • If the photographer’s style doesn’t align with your vision, you might end up with a headshot that doesn’t meet your expectations, or worse, choose a lacklustre one, and you could end up with a headshot that’s more like a mugshot. 
  • Post-shoot editing may mean a delay of days or even weeks for getting your final images, which is of little use if your job application deadline is imminent.

AI Headshots: The Digital Disruptor


  • The ability to transform selfies into professional-looking headshots with a few clicks can be perfect for those last-minute LinkedIn updates.
  • AI offers free and budget-friendly alternatives to traditional photography – and the platforms that facilitate it are multiplying like rabbits. Check out Remini for starters, and if that’s not to your liking take your pick
  • As technology advances, AI-generated images are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the real deal.


  • Uploading photos to AI apps can raise questions about data security and usage, some of the more common sites actually state they might use the images for their algorithm training. Read the fine print.
  • AI isn’t foolproof and can sometimes produce errors, like extra fingers or incorrect teeth.
  • Overly edited AI headshots might be off-putting to recruiters or employers, raising doubts about authenticity. Just as with online dating, nobody likes to be duped by a fake representation of reality. 

Selfies: The DIY Contender


  • Capturing a headshot anytime, anywhere, with just your smartphone offers you the power to reshoot, edit and repeat to your heart’s content – until you get exactly what you want.
  • Selfies offer a way to showcase your personality and individuality, especially relevant for creatives and influencers. 
  • No need for a professional shoot to max out the credit card; your smartphone is all you need. And maybe a few online tutorials to master the craft.


  • Smartphone cameras may not deliver the same high-quality results as professional equipment.
  • In certain industries, a selfie might not convey the desired level of professionalism or perception.
  • Achieving the right lighting and composition can be challenging without the additional smartphone apps and accessories, or expertise of a photographer.

The Verdict

The battle of headshots boils down to your personal and professional needs, as well as your budget. The barriers to gaining a professional headshot have officially been obliterated.

If you’re aiming for a polished, professional image, going with a professional might be the way to go – just do your research, or risk an epic fail. On the flipside, if you’re all about authenticity and showcasing your unique personality, a well-crafted selfie could do the trick with a little practice and experimentation. 

And AI is a promising frontier, especially for those who are digitally savvy and can make it work, but it’s essential to tread carefully regarding privacy and authenticity. Watch this space. 

So the smackdown is; putting the best face forward is the one that represents you authentically and aligns with your professional goals. Choose the option that makes you feel confident and represents who you are.

Elevate your professional image

Ready to put your best foot forward? 

Weather you want to get the perfect headshot or optimise your professional profile, The Big Smoke has you covered. Reach out to see how we can help you balance authenticity with professionalism. 

Let’s make your first impression unforgettable. 

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