The 80-20 Rule in Photography: You’re first boss is always an Italian Named Pareto

Pareto’s Law, designed by 19th century Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, is better known as the 80/20 rule. Originally, it was designed to demonstrate the disparity in societal wealth, stating that 80% of wealth is created and kept by 20% of society. 

Pareto’s ratio is regularly used in other contexts outside of economics to show lop-sided,  uneven distributions.

For instance,  the actual percentage of time spent shooting photos by photography business owners compared to the percentage of time spent dealing with administrative, marketing and other workflow duties at the early stages of company development is a great example.

The unequal distribution of responsibilities required of photography business owners is arguably dismal to the point of wondering whether you’re a photographer or basement dwelling desk jockey unable to enjoy the  supposed creative independence afforded a photographer in his/her work environment.

It’s likely that the 80/20 rule actually shifts to 90/10 during the early stages of operations when technological issues ( file organization, camera & computer equipment upgrades, software uploads, business registration & licensing, trademark (if branding), and other start-up costs for a photography business are incurred.

 Photography Business Owner 80/20 Rule: 

80% time allocated to operational & administrative duties

20% time allocated for the act of image creation

Obviously the goal is to shift this lop-sided percentage of non-shooting time in your favor — and it can be done — but it’ll take time, patience and pin-point refinement of non-shooting related activities.

If you’re not ready for Pareto’s law to dominate your existence at the start-up phase of your independent photography business, you might as well say arrivederci to your sole-proprietorship and try to plan some time for a gelato on you lunch break during the 9-5 office schedule.


Ferriss, Timothy, The 4-Hour Workweek, p. 70-5, Crown Publishing; New York


About Alpine Objectives LLC

International mountain media, marketing & education services with more than 20 years of professional experience sliding around the wintry world.
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