Applying The 80/20 Principle In Your Photography

July 03, 2017  •  2 Comments

I have been thinking about the core elements that help me achieve high levels of success and I wanted to share my approach with other photographers to possibly help in a way that you might not normally expect. 

The single biggest contributor to my personal and professional success is linked to my understanding and application of the 80/20 Principle. 

The principle effectively states that 80% of your positive outcomes are tied to 20% of your inputs.  In other words, four-fifths of your actions on any given topic are irrelevant and only one-fifth have the ability to make a significant impact.

Once you are able to get your mind around this, it brings clarity to a new level for most people.  If you think about that in terms of your photography, what are some of the 80% tasks you are doing that are leading to very little positive outcomes?  Find them and stop doing them.  On the up-side, what are the few actions that are producing positive results?  Focus on them and go deeper with them.  

In all of my workshops, books, and quick reference cards, this is at the center of how I develop my training materials.  I analyze the topic, then I deconstruct it in an effort to identify the top 20% of subjects that will produce the 80% of returns for learners.  It isn't always a clean 80/20, sometimes it is even more drastic such as 95/5 or 70/30, however, you get the idea.  

In non-technical areas such as my prints sales, I regularly stand back, look at the sales data and review which prints are in the top 20%.  I try and understand if there is a trend and if the sales data can help me understand my buyers better.  Since I only create prints of subjects that I am excited about and love, it is a win-win for me.  I get clear feedback on which ideas my buyers and collectors like the most and I get to make more of what I already love to create.  

I think you will find a number of ways to apply the 80/20 Principle within your photography and also in your personal life to help you achieve more by doing less and by focusing on fewer things which ultimately leads to higher levels of personal joy and satisfaction.    

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Tim Layton Fine Art
Hey Jon, thanks for your comments. Your work is definitely inspiring to me and many people. I really like the idea of savoring our exposures for only our best work. Stay in touch.
Jon Paul(non-registered)
Thanks for sharing Tim. As a large format guy that has made my living in Gallery sales for 20 years, I can’t agree more. It is hard. I find that the cost of large format has inherently brought me to this 80/20 idea. Most often I approach a scene and, if it isn’t moving me, I don’t expose. I think the approach you share here speaks to an artistic approach, as opposed to a modern digital volume approach. Important for aspiring artists to consider.
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