Back in 1906 Wilfred Pareto created a mathematical formula that he used to explain the uneven distribution of wealth in Italy. Over time that formula became known as the Pareto Principle. Through the years it has been used to describe a wide range of situations. At its core Pareto Principle contains the 80/20 rule. It means that 80% of an outcome is created by 20% of the activities or inputs. This article discusses applying the Pareto Principle photography.
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When we consider all of the factors that can impact the photographs that each of us creates the list is quite lengthy. It includes choice of camera body, lenses used, filters, flashes, tripods and other types of camera supports, choice of software, subject matter, time of day, weather conditions, lighting, and creative inspiration to name but a few.
No doubt all of those individual factors are important and can have a direct impact on the quality of the work that each of us produces.
Evaluating a myriad of factors and choosing the one that creates 80% of the outcome is a subjective assessment. We can all assess that differently and arrive at a different conclusion. From my perspective there is one input that dwarfs all of the others and in my mind does impact 80% of the quality and impact of the photographs that each of us creates. That one factor is composition.
How we individually choose to compose our images says everything there is to say about how we see the world around us. It is how we put our world in perspective. What balance we experience in our lives. It represents our sense of order.
We can be brilliant tacticians when it comes to our use of photographic software. That brilliance can help squeeze out every drop of image quality of which our camera equipment of choice is capable. But, of what use is that skill in post processing if the image itself does not compel our readers to look at it?
We can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to purchase camera gear that has the capability to deliver the highest amounts of dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance. We can use lenses of incredible sharpness that render images of extraordinary clarity. Much of that potential will remain dormant unless our compositions touch the hearts of our viewers.
We can travel the world and experience incredible locales and cultures. Of what use is that if our compositions do not help transport viewers into our images so they can experience what we did vicariously?
The images that each of us creates are snapshots in time. The exact combination of physical factors that came together in each of our photographs will never be duplicated precisely. They are truly unique moments in time. Each time coded when we first captured them.
Many of us have gone back to specific locations to try our hand at recreating a previous image. Sometimes we are rewarded by the whims of nature. At other times not. Time simply moves on.
Image composition is at the core of our creativity. It is that Pareto Principle factor that contributes to 80% of our photographic success. As long as we are breathing and have a camera in our hands, we have the opportunity to continue to hone our composition craft. And, every time we do, we will continue to grow as photographers.
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