Quantity over Quality

Coming across this anecdote while reading ‘Atomic Habits‘, I was taken back because it provided a notion that ‘quantity’ in any kind of work is a process of trial and improvement.

Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film, photography students, into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom he explained, would be in the ‘quantity group‘. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the ‘quality group‘. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.

As I pursue to establish my endeavour in learning to film and edit videos, my goal is to focus on quantity over quality. I find the thrill in my mistakes because I avoid them in my next attempt. I exercise the use of resources made available to me through tutorial videos on Skillshare or Youtube. This provides me with an insight into the techniques and tools of video editing. Secondly, I purposely avoid the concept of perfectionism and overthinking. As a beginner, I know I will make mistakes and the best way to approach any newly practising skill is to continue the art and learn from your faults.

If you’re considering taking up a new skill or dedicating to improve on your existing one during this quarantine. I hope you’ll find this post valuable, I know I certainly have.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

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I am a writer and a graduate engineer working in Leicester, UK.

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