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Using the 80/20 Rule in Your Photography Workflow

The Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. This rule has been studied and observed in large systems. Some examples include:

  • 80 percent of a product’s usage comes from 20 percent of its features.
  • 80 percent of traffic comes from 20 percent of the roads.
  • 80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of products.
  • 80 percent of the errors are caused by 20 percent of the components.

This rule points to the idea that focusing beyond the critical 20 percent produces diminishing results.

Applying the 80/20 Rule in your Photography Workflow: 

  • Keep 20 percent of the shoot. Delete the rest. Be ruthless, save disk space.
  • Show only 20 percent of the 20 percent you keep. There are a lot of images out there and people have short attention spans. Put your best work forward.
  • Realize that only 20 percent of the 20 percent kept is actually good. You will have hits and misses when building a body of work. Not everyone will like everything. It’s ok. Keep filtering, and keep moving on.
  • 20 percent of the frame should be the subject, and the rest should be non-distracting support. This applies even when the subject takes up the whole frame. Identify that 20 percent of space that is the most important and edit to bring it forward.
  • Use filters and adjustments on the critical 20 percent of the image and not globally. Use masking to target the critical area. Use adjustments outside to critical area to minimize attention-grabbing qualities.

What are some of your 80/20 Rules?

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Jamuna Burry

Exploring ideas on creativity through digital art.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I have none, I keep it all, disk space is cheap.
    I find after time thing I didn’t like now appeal to me.
    16 years over 100,000 images

  2. Patricia

    What an interesting post with so many valuable points! Thank your for bringing this back to our minds!

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