On Wednesday, I had the awesome opportunity to meet Dane Sanders since he was up in the Bay Area presenting to the San Jose and San Francisco PUG groups. Let me start off by saying how incredibly nice and genuine Dane is. He greeted me as if we were old friends and I said, "It's so great to finally meet you in person," and he said, "Really? We've never met?"
I always think it's kind of funny when you meet people you've "met" or connected with online, in person. The person looks the same as their avatar, and maybe you've heard their voice on the phone or through a podcast, but meeting someone in the flesh is always such a trip. And a good one at that. Dane is no exception.
I must say that Dane's presentation was highly entertaining. And of course informative. And all around awesome. How many presenters have you seen jump up on a coffee table and flash his mismatched socks? Or reenact his presentation from Pictage Headquarters that included running into the wall full force and leaving a big hole?
He talked about how to set yourself apart from the crowd by being yourself and leveraging your strengths -- not just trying to improve your weaknesses -- because YOU are the only "you" there is. He talked about how we are not just in the business of photography; yes, photographs are important, but we are in the photographER business. We don't want to become a commodity -- like toilet paper or socks -- where the cheapest product wins out. Instead, we should brand ourselves according to what we were truly meant to do. I think this is really important, especially since the photography market is so saturated. How are you going to differentiate one from the other? How are YOU going to differentiate yourself? This of course, goes hand in hand with defining your brand. It's all about keepin' it real!
Dane is also the author of Fast Track Photographer: The Definitive New Approach to Wedding Photography. In it, Dane makes the case that a far more effective approach is to get clear on the gifts and talents you as an particular individual bring to the table and build a vision from that starting plot point. To do this, Dane includes a "personality test" of sorts called the pDNA (photographer's DNA) to identify your strengths and weaknesses. From that, the test also gives suggestions for how to leverage those strengths and assets. The path of that vision needs to be informed by the evolving landscape of service based businesses -- we can't be resistant to the changing times -- we must be willing and able to fly with the times!
And Dane doesn't stop there. He also recently launched AskDane.com as well as Fast Track Coaching. AskDane.com is a weekly podcast where Dane addresses a particular question brought up by readers. I highly recommend them if you have a few minutes. HILARIOUS! With Fast Track Coaching, Dane hosts a coaching session with an invited guest photographer, including The Bebbs, Me Ra Koh, and Jessica Claire, with many more to come! If you're going to WPPI, you must check out the Fast Track Lounge with wifi!
Alright. Gushing complete.