For the last couple of years, my wife has been a passionate student of all things Myers-Briggs. And thus, by the transitive property of marriage, this means that I too have become unwittingly quasi-conversant on the topic.
For the edification of those who lack a fervent family tutor, the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” is a rather widely used and somewhat controversial system for sub-dividing humankind into 16 distinct personality types. Based on a theory first floated by Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) defines four dualities that affect human personality: You’re either extraverted (E) or introverted (I); sensing (S) or intuitive (N); thinking (T) or feeling (F); judging (J) or perceiving (P). 16 possible combinations that yield 16 different types of personalities.
My wife’s interest in MBTI was inspired by the demands of her job — a job in which she must stroke the egos, satisfy the psyches and negotiate the best performances from hundreds of different people — quickly and simultaneously. By learning to identify each person’s personality type, she is able to effectively ascertain their needs and motivations — and thus relate with each individual in a way they each understand and appreciate.
Frankly, I used to think Myers-Briggs was a lot of hooey — mostly because I found it nigh impossible to take any of the MBTI tests myself. All the test variants contained far too many either/or questions to which my answer would be “neither” or “it depends.” So one day, still unable to complete a test, I asked my wife to categorize my personality type for me. “Oh, you’re an INTJ,” she said emphatically.
Since I didn’t know an INTJ from an EIEIO, she read me a couple of profiles that described my personality type, my motivations and the circuity of my thought processes. It was uncanny. All my life I believed I simply possessed a higher percentage of alien DNA than the rest of humanity. Turns out I was just an INTJ.
This got me thinking — perhaps I could expand on the Myers-Briggs concept, and create an addendum specific to photographers. Surely these same techniques could be used to classify all the different types of photographers and their motivations? It would go a long way toward helping each photographer learn what makes them click that shutter release, along with when, where and at what they should concentrate those clicks. Besides, I was bereft of any better ideas upon which to base a new article. So I rolled up my sleeves and gave it a good hard 10 minutes of thought — resulting in the creation of the Ultrasomething Photographer Type Indicator (UPTI).
- Are your motivations external (E) or internal (I)?
Is your photographic direction dictated by praise and appreciation, and a yearning to satisfy and grow your audience? Or could you not be bothered to care what other people might think of your photos — just as long as you’re happy with them?
- Are you a literal (L) or metaphorical (M) practitioner of photography?
Do you tend to take photographs principally for the purpose of documenting what’s in front of the camera (even if it’s to alter it in some idealistic way)? Or do you take photographs in which the subject of the photos isn’t really about what’s in the frame, so much as what’s implied by it?
- Are you a builder (B) or a hunter (H)?
Do you generally prefer to construct your photographs — either in the studio or through carefully conceived camera, lighting or subject placement in the field? Or do you prefer to hunt for images — accepting and photographing whatever appears before you and in whatever manner it appears?
- Are you more drawn to quality (Q) or to subject (S)?
Are you generally more concerned with what your photos look like (image quality, contrast, focus, sharpness, fidelity, etc)? Or do you care more about the subject matter (regardless of its technical merit, or lack thereof)?
Obviously, it’s unlikely that your placement within any of these four UPTI functions will be “absolute.” For example, your photography might not be solely reliant on quality (Q) nor solely reliant on subject (S), but likely some mix of the two. It is, however, probable that one extreme will be more highly weighted than the other, and the sum of those weightings will determine your Ultrasomething Photographer Type Indicator.
I am, without any doubt, an IMHS. Anyone reading this blog for the past few years could easily have guessed as much.
So what are you? What is your UPTI? If you like, feel free to share your UPTI classification in the comments section. And remember, no one classification is better than any other. They’re just different — which is a good thing. Because without differences, we’d all be taking the same photos. And how boring would that be?
©2015 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS: The photos that accompany this article are, not coincidentally, precisely the sort of thing you’d expect to see come from the camera of an IMHS.
“Another Facebook Moment” definitely has nothing to do with the girls in the photo, and everything to do with lampooning the ubiquity and excessive prominence of social media. Of course, now that I know I’m an INTJ, that whole social media mockery thing of mine makes perfect sense. Photographed with a Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) and a 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M lens.
“Near Miss” is, again, another photo that really has nothing to do with the subject shown. If it were, I’d probably have shot closer (or used a longer lens). Instead, it’s about context. We don’t know why the man is lying on the sidewalk and this photo isn’t going to tell us. And, rest assured, I certainly didn’t put him on the sidewalk for the sake of this picture. No, it’s really a photo about choices — the wide angle lens indicating a wealth of possibly more appropriate places for the man to lie — perhaps one of the several nearby benches? Or even the Comfort Inn on the corner? Shot with a Leica IIIc and a Voigtlander 25mm f/4 Snapshot-Skopar lens on Tri-X at ISO 400, and developed in a 1:50 solution of Rodinal.
“Open Invitation” — Is this a botched portrait of a man on the street, or is it a gift-wrapped moment of serendipity marrying a momentary body position with a most appropriate sign? Photographed with a Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) and a 28mm f/2 Summicron lens.
“Misfit” is a technical mess. Blurry. Out of focus. Improperly exposed. I couldn’t care less. Because the subject of the photo (which isn’t the man in the mascot outfit, but the pregnant space between him and the other people on the bench) is all that matters. At least it’s all that matters to me. Did I mention I only take photos to please myself? Shot with an Olympus OMD-EM1 with an Olympus 12mm f/2 lens.
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