There has been a buzz in the wedding professional photography community about the Photographer DNA (pDNA) assessment tool, developed by Dane Sanders, Southern California-based wedding photographer and one of the founding members of the world-famous Open Source Photo (OSP) Forum. Dane’s book, Fast Track Photographer, turned into an industry best-seller and ranks a solid 5-star status among numerous Amazon.com readers – my time-tested indication of a book’s value and usefulness. Endorsements by “star” wedding photographers such as Becker, Marcus Bell, Mike Colon, Bob Davis, Gary Fong, David Jay, Kevin Kubota (most of whom I had a privelege to learn from personally) became an icing on the cake.
I studied the book and found a lot of truth to the buzz. The book itself is a separate topic so here I only want to share the results of my 2-hour pDNA assessment. Quoting the source, the assessment is “designed to help you discover who you are. As a professional photographer, that is. The goal is to get a snapshot of the qualities you currently possess that will most likely shape your path as a pro. The results will give you a kind of “photographer personality profile”… This is a straightforward and honest tool that will reflect back to you where you currently stand in a series of categories… that have the most dramatic effect on one’s ability to perform as a professional event photographer.” And the results, along with some comments, are…
Experience – The degree of experience you have with photography: HIGH
“…you may be pretty clear on what you like to shoot and how you go about capturing images.”
Self-Starter – The degree to which you start things on your own: HIGH
“…you have a huge advantage over the rest of the industry. There are so many dreamers who would like to do this job professionally but can’t get their dreams in gear. Yet, for the High Self-Starter it’s a different story. If you’ve dreamt it, it’s as good as done.” My underwater photography adventure is an example, I suppose.
Program-Starter – The degree to which your motivation to start things is derived from a program (i.e. any kind of structured learning framework outside yourself): HIGH “On the one hand, there are endless opportunities to learn through a pre-packaged format. On the other hand, if you’re not careful, you can become a perennial workshop junkie who never makes the jump to taking responsibility for your learning.” With my high Artistic ID (below), I hope the latter will not be the case.
Confidence – The degree to which you feel confident as a photographer: HIGH “…you have an “automatic” ability to feel comfortable in most circumstances. In fact, you probably often wonder why others get so self-conscious. You’ve either been around the industry for a long time or have remarkable natural self-esteem.”
Risk Tolerance – The degree to which you feel comfortable taking risks: HIGH “…laser-like focus on winning big. You are probably gifted at taking limited information, skillfully extracting the essence of that information and projecting it ahead faster than other people can… You probably bring enormous intention to every major decision. You simply lower your perceived risk faster than others do and thus others give you the label of risk-taker. On the other hand, you may have a tendency to be reckless… perhaps you enjoy the emotional “rush” of putting yourself on the edge.”
Need for Control – The degree to which you need control to feel strong as a photographer: MEDIUM “…you tend to be balanced in your ability to give control away. On the other hand, you may be conflicted between whether you “should” give up control or keep it.”
Self-Discipline – The degree to which you can routinely get work done on your own as opposed to needing other people and structures to help you be productive: MEDIUM
“…may have that rare ability to both work independently and partner.”
Artistic ID – The degree to which you find your core identity as a photographer in your artistic expression: HIGH “The internal validation you experience when you create art is the drive behind everything you do. You consider yourself an artist first (and a businessperson second) and you probably take that call pretty seriously.“
Entrepreneurial ID – The degree to which you find your core identity as a photographer in your success as a business-person: MEDIUM “…you may vacillate between getting your identity from the sale of your art and from the art of the sale”
Attractiveness – The degree to which your personality, physical presence, charisma, social skills and confidence draw others to yourself: MEDIUM “you may not be leveraging that quality to maximize your attractiveness to others”
Shyness sometimes feels as an obstacle to me…
Grumpy Factor – The degree to which you measure your success relative to how others are doing (e.g., if others are flourishing, you feel as if you’re failing. If others are struggling, you feel as if you’re gaining ground): LOW “When challenges present themselves, you identify them as opportunities. When “wronged,” you ask yourself what you could have done to make things better. When affirmed, you receive the praise graciously and look for ways to affirm others. You share credit. You have integrity. You are contagiously grateful. You are willing to give up short-term gain for long-term universal benefit.”
Collaborative Creativity – The degree to which you get your creativity from being with people: HIGH “…you seem to need people to help you find inspiration. This does not mean you lack creativity or are a copycat. On the contrary, when put in a cohort of creative individuals, you shine precisely because of the energy you draw from others.” For one, I am a member of many groups, associations, and forums, where we all learn from each other. I look for inspiration from the masters. I love to brain-storm with my stylist and associate photographers, inflaming the sparking ideas.
Individual Creativity – The degree to which you get your creativity from being alone: MEDIUM “You are able to be inspired in all contexts. Harnessing that creativity is your greatest challenge because it can often feel limiting to create alone or to create with others because of the inherent trade-offs.”
Self-Promotion – The degree to which you feel comfortable promoting your brand (yourself) and actively seeking new business: HIGH “…you have no qualms about “selling yourself” in the marketplace. You believe in yourself, you believe in your work, and you want your ideal clients to know about you… You want the world to be aware of you and you have the confidence to back up your packaging and your marketing claims.”
The characteristics are to be put together in the Fast Track System to help determine a photographer’s “path”. The above align well with the Signature Brand Photographer’s path. Perhaps, I received a reassurance of the right course chosen…
Ed Hafizov is a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering arousing and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, winner of Adobe contests, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List, he is eager to step out of his and willing clients' comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.