As someone who interacts with thousands of photographers at all levels, I've often found myself drawing comparisons between photographers and personality traits. I was curious if this type of creative profession had an overwhelming percentage of a certain "type" of person. Asking myself questions like why aren't certain people drawn to photography or the creative arts? Is there a certain type of personality that excels and is drawn to this trade? I did some digging and found a way to see if there was a way to define the personality of a photographer or retoucher and to see if they shared a common trait. Spoiler alert, they did.
Last year I found the website 16 Personalities, which has taken the original concept of a Myers-Briggs personality test and developed an even finer method to help people understand their personality type and shed some light (often scary accurate) on this research. This helps explain things like behavior in social settings, career paths, romantic relationships, and a lot more.
A few months back I decided to poll our Private Facebook group "The PRO EDU Community" with 11,000 members. I posted a question to see if people would participate. Within 48 hours we had 145 answers. I decided to compile them into a list and see if I could draw any statistically significant comparisons between the 16 personalities and if photographers shared some. Furthermore I was able to break it down by gender to see where men and woman compared or contrasted in the 16 types, which are broken down into 4 main categories: Mind, Energy, Nature, and Tactics. They have even fine tuned the method to add a 5th letter that represents "Identity."
The majority of the results that were posted in our group did not include the unique 5th letter of "identity" and simply reported on the 4 letter results. So I decided to just focus on the 4 letter since the results didn't all included the 5 letter result.
If you'd like to submit your results, there is a form at the end of this article to do so.
There are 16 personalities that are defined and outlined below by 16 Personalities. Based on the answers in your quiz, your are assigned 1 of the 2 letters in each of the 4 categories of Mind, Energy, Nature, and Tactics. Below they have outlined what each letter represents to create the 4 letter words that represent each of the personalities. The descriptions below are quoted from the 16 personalities website:
"Introverted individuals prefer solitary activities and get exhausted by social interaction. They tend to be quite sensitive to external stimulation (e.g. sound, sight or smell) in general."
"Extraverted individuals prefer group activities and get energized by social interaction. They tend to be more enthusiastic and more easily excited than introverts."
"Observant individuals are highly practical, pragmatic and down-to-earth. They tend to have strong habits and focus on what is happening or has already happened."
"Thinking individuals focus on objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotions. They tend to hide their feelings and see efficiency as more important than cooperation."
"Feeling individuals are sensitive and emotionally expressive. They are more empathic and less competitive than Thinking types, and focus on social harmony and cooperation."
"Prospecting individuals are very good at improvising and spotting opportunities. They tend to be flexible, relaxed nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open."
Of the 145 answers posted under my original prompt, 83 of the answers were from Males and 62 of the answers were from females. So about 57.24% of the people who responded were Male and about 42.76% were female. While it wasn't an even 50/50 split, it was pretty close. Of those answers there were some VERY clear differences and groupings and even personalities that had not even 1 male or female from our group.
16 Personalities breaks the results into 4 main categories that each have 4 different personalities within them, giving a total of 16 different personalities. The 4 different categories are Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, and Explorers.
The winner, by far, were the "Diplomats" making up 59.93% of all of the answers. In second place we had our Analysts making up 17.24% of all the results of both male and female respondents. In third place we had the Explorers making up 13.79% of the personalities and in last, but not least were the Sentinels making up a total of 11.03% of the answers.
I will say that I am not exactly qualified to be making statistical claims here, but the clear winner by more than 3X were the "Diplomats." And of this category there was a spread between 31.03% males and 21.06% females. Of that category the personality with the most responses were INFP females with 17 responses and then males INFP with 16 responses, just about tied.
On the flip side there was 1 category with neither 1 male nor 1 female, which was the ESTP category or "Entrepreneur." That is pretty remarkable from 145 respondents considering that most photographers are considered entrepreneurs or "solopreneurs" that manage their own business or brand. I never would have guessed that 0 people would have ended up in this category.
Now let's look at how each category was broken down. All of the quotes in this article were taken from the 16 personalities website, which has much deeper explanation for each personality if you'd like to explore it more.
The difference here was pretty staggering and a clear winner. Of the population of photographers that submitted their results, almost 60% of them were in the "Diplomats" category. One of the biggest defining characteristics of this category is cooperation and imaginative, which would certainly pair well with working with clients to come up with creative solutions to create an image for them.
"Diplomats focus on empathy and cooperation, shining in diplomacy and counseling. People belonging to this type group are cooperative and imaginative, often playing the role of harmonizers in their workplace or social circles. These traits make Diplomats warm, empathic and influential individuals, but also cause issues when there is a need to rely exclusively on cold rationality or make difficult decisions." - 16 Personalities Website
"Advocates are likely to find that most corporate career paths are not designed for them, but for those focused on their status and material gain. However, people with this personality are able to find work that suits them in just about any field. Their desire to help and connect makes careers in healthcare – especially the more holistic varieties – very rewarding for Advocates. Roles as counselors, psychologists, doctors, life coaches, and spiritual guides are all attractive options."
"Fantasy worlds in particular fascinate Mediators, more than any other personality type. The strength of their visionary communication style lends itself well to creative works, and it comes as no surprise that many famous Mediators are poets, writers and actors. Understanding themselves and their place in the world is important to Mediators, and they explore these ideas by projecting themselves into their work. First and foremost is seemingly every Mediators’ dream growing up – to become an author. While a novel is a classic choice, it is rarely an accessible one, and there are many viable options for freedom-loving Mediators. The internet brings to the world the opportunities of blogging and freelance work – as organizations expand their reach beyond their native tongues, they will come to depend on Mediator personality types, with their gift for language and written expression, to take their rougher translations and stale pitches and inject them with a sense of beauty and poetry. Smaller organizations will need more than ever to express with elegance the value they bring to local communities."
"Protagonists take a genuine interest in other people, approaching them with warm sociability and a helpful earnestness that rarely goes unnoticed. Altruistic careers like social and religious work, teaching, counseling, and advising of all sorts are popular avenues, giving people with the Protagonist personality type a chance to help others learn, grow, and become more independent. This attitude, alongside their social skills, emotional intelligence and tendency to be “that person who knows everybody”, can be adapted to quite a range of other careers as well, making Protagonists natural HR administrators, event coordinators, and politicians – anything that helps a community or organization to operate more smoothly."
"The Campaigner personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party, but unlike types in the Explorer Role group, Campaigners are less interested in the sheer excitement and pleasure of the moment than they are in enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, the 7% of the population that they comprise can certainly be felt in any crowd."
Of the respondents in our results the Analysts came in second with 17.24% of the total answers. Of those results 12.41% were male and 4.83% were female. While this may have come in as second place, this category is 3X less than that of our first place category of our Diplomats.(Intuitive and Thinking [ _NT_ ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants) These include INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, and ENTP.
"These personality types embrace rationality and impartiality, excelling in intellectual debates and scientific or technological fields. They are fiercely independent, open-minded, strong-willed and imaginative, approaching many things from a utilitarian perspective and being far more interested in what works than what satisfies everybody. These traits make Analysts excellent strategic thinkers, but also cause difficulties when it comes to social or romantic pursuits."
"It can be lonely at the top. Being one of the rarest personality types and being among the most capable people, Architects know this all too well. They make up just two percent of the population, and women with this personality type are especially rare, forming only 0.8%. It can be difficult for Architects to find people who can keep up with their non-stop analysis of things. People with this personality type are imaginative yet decisive... ambitious yet like their privacy... curious about everything but remain focused."
"The Logician personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there’s nothing they’d be more unhappy about than being “common”. Logicians pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect. Usually known as the philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor, Logicians have been responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history."
"Commanders are natural-born leaders. People with this personality type embody the gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal. However, Commanders are also characterized by an often ruthless level of rationality, using their drive, determination and sharp minds to achieve whatever end they’ve set for themselves. Perhaps it is best that they make up only three percent of the population, lest they overwhelm the more timid and sensitive personality types that make up much of the rest of the world – but we have Commanders to thank for many of the businesses and institutions we take for granted every day."
"The Debater personality type is the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see. Debaters don’t do this because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than Debaters, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points."
Of the respondents in our results the Explorers came in third with 13.79% of the total answers. Of those results 8.97% were male and 4.83% were female. My first thought when reading these titles was that photographers were definitely going to be in this category. When I think of explorer I think of a photographer going out, shooting, exploring landscapes, exploring new ways to do things, new cultures, documentation, etc. NOPE apparently less than 15% of our photographers in the PRO EDU community are in this category.(Observant and Prospecting [ _S_P ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants) These include ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, and ESFP.
"These types are the most spontaneous of all and they also share the ability to connect with their surroundings in a way that is beyond reach of other types. Explorers are utilitarian and practical, shining in situations that require quick reaction and ability to think on your feet. They are masters of tools and techniques, using them in many different ways – ranging from mastering physical tools to convincing other people. Unsurprisingly, these personality types are irreplaceable in crises, crafts and sales – however, their traits can also push them towards undertaking risky endeavors or focusing solely on sensual pleasures."
Virtuosos are born problem-solvers with an unwavering focus on practical solutions (though perhaps not always solutions to practical problems). No other type is quite as fascinated by how things work, how tools can be used, and how facts can be put together to create immediate and satisfying results. This combination of curiosity and hands-on vigor make people with the Virtuoso personality type excellent mechanics, engineers, graphic designers, and forensic scientists.
"People with the Adventurer personality type are passionate experimenters, and whether they’re aware of it or not, they are renowned trendsetters. With their unique perspective and simple desire to be themselves, Adventurers are natural artists, musicians and photographers, as well as designers of all stripes. Setting up shop on websites like Etsy is far more alluring to Adventurers than the confines of 9-5 administrative work in some fluorescent cubicle."
"Entrepreneurs are curious, energetic people with a taste for action. There are those who analyze and manage the logistics of public safety resource distribution, and there are those who drive the ambulances, patrol the streets, and save lives with their own two hands – Entrepreneur personalities are the latter. They are highly observant yet impatient, enabling them to take in the whole of a situation at a glance, and act. Any emergency response role is great for Entrepreneurs, whether it be as paramedics, police officers, or soldiers."
"Not everybody has the energy for that though, or wants the responsibility of life and death – some Entertainers prefer to make people happy and excited by creating beauty instead. People with this personality type have plenty of creative energy, and many build fulfilling careers in music, fashion, photography, and interior design. With the best aesthetic sense of any personality type, Entertainers are renowned for their sense of style."
Of the respondents in our results the Explorers came in third with 11.03% of the total answers. Of those results 4.83% were male and 6.21% were female.(Observant and Judging [ _S_J ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants) These include ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ.
"Sentinels are cooperative and highly practical, embracing and creating order, security and stability wherever they go. People belonging to one of these types tend to be hard working, meticulous and traditional, and excel in logistical or administrative fields, especially those that rely on clear hierarchies and rules. These personality types stick to their plans and do not shy away from difficult tasks – however, they can also be very inflexible and reluctant to accept different points of view."
"Logisticians of course aren’t limited to these organizations – there are many other roles that utilize their reliability, objectivity and sharp eyes. When facts and logic are out of place, Logistician personalities swoop in as the accountants, auditors, data analysts, financial managers, business administrators and even doctors that identify, report and correct the issues at hand."
"In many ways, Defenders are the backbone of the modern workforce. Altruistic and well-rounded, no other personality type is so well-suited to be of service of others. It is no surprise that many Defenders are not just good at supporting their coworkers and customers in human resources and support positions, they genuinely enjoy it, as it gives them the chance to calm frustrations, see things through to a practical solution, and to be thanked, appreciated, at the close of each ordeal. Strong, well-developed institutions alongside like-minded friends are attractive workplaces for people with the Defender personality type, and careers as nurses, elementary school teachers and social and religious workers are attractive options."
"Executives’ career paths are often as clear and straightforward as they are themselves. Though there are many directions they can choose to go, people with the Executive personality type almost always end up in situations where they have the opportunity to exercise their affinity for organization, structure, and follow-through. Providing further focus, Executives share a profound respect for tradition, stability and security, qualities which lend themselves well to progressing along clear paths to increased responsibility and dependability."
"Purely analytical careers are often too dull for Consuls though – they need human interaction and emotional feedback to be truly satisfied in their line of work. Good listeners and enthusiastic team members, people with the Consul personality type are excellent providers of medical care and social work. Teaching is another great option, as Consuls are comfortable with authority, but are supportive and friendly enough to keep that authority from feeling overbearing."
All in all I found this test to be really interesting and found myself going down rabbit holes researching the various types of personalities, workplace behaviors, romantic relationships, and overall how accurate some of these could be. What does all of this mean? I don't know! But it was certainly an interesting research experiment to see how we all fall into categories and what they mean. It's a bit scary and daunting to also think about how these personalities interact and get along with one another, which I won't get into but encourage you to read more about on the 16 personalities website if you want to have a look for yourself. If you haven't yet, take the quiz and if you can, post your results below and feel free to share this with other creatives. I plan to republish this in a few months if we can get a larger sample size that include the 5th letter from the website.
Co-Founder PRO EDU
If you would like to submit your results to what personality you are, you can click on the link below to submit your answer. If you haven't taken the test yet, you can do so HERE.Create your own user feedback survey
All images licensed for editorial use through Adobe Stock Photos, apologies if some of them seem too "stocky"*
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