A HUMAN FIGURE IN A LANDSCAPE
How often have you been all set up to photograph a landscape and been frustrated when people got in the way? It happens to all of us. But sometimes a person or two in your landscape photo can be just the finishing touch you need to create a great image. Here are a few reasons why you should be open to having a human figure in a landscape photo.
GIVE YOUR VIEWER SOMETHING TO FOCUS ON.
We are all people and we naturally seek connection with other people. If there is a human figure in a landscape, it can create a stronger personal connection between image and viewer…the eye will naturally seek out and settle on the person in the photo. Take a look at the following desert photo.
This shot is similar in style and composition to the main photo on this tip page. But in this shot, the viewer will tend to meander around the photo without finding any specific subject to focus on. Although tiny, the human figures in the first shot add an extra level of connection between viewer and subject.
CREATE A SENSE OF SCALE
Many of our great landscapes are impressive because they are so massive, so when they are reduced down to photo size they can lose their impact. It can be hard to tell if a rock is 10 metres high or 50 metres high. But we know roughly how tall an adult human is. So when a person appears in that shot, immediately we get a sense of scale and a better idea of the size of what we are looking at.
PROVIDE A SUBJECT FOR A GREAT BACKGROUND
A few months ago I wrote a tip called “Sunset: a background in search of a subject.” Often we see a beautiful scene and know we have a great photo opportunity. But a good photo really needs a subject. I often tell my students that anybody can photograph a pretty sky, but a photographer wants to create a composition. In the absence of a shapely tree, a windmill etc. a good sky can really be just a background without a subject. You can’t move a tree into position and windmills can be hard to come by…but it isn’t hard to bring a person into the frame to add the finishing touch you need.
Even the most spectacular landscape often needs that extra detail to really bring it to life. Remember any time you photograph a great location, millions of people before you have taken that same shot, possibly from the same angle. Having a person or two appear in the photo adds to your story and gives you an opportunity to create something unique, rather than just the same old picture people have seen before.