Imagine this: your aperture and shutter speed are selected, your composition looks good, the light is spot on and you are ready to take your shot when someone unknowingly walks into the frame. They suddenly realize, turn to apologize to which you smile and say “no problem” but inside you are seething with rage.
But don’t panic. Having people in your images can actually be a good thing and in fact, some picture editors prefer people in the photographs. More and more these days I’m trying to include people in my shots as it can help differentiate the photo from the competition.
Here are 5 reasons why including people in your shots can actually improve the composition
1. People provide a sense of scale
It is difficult to convey the scale of something in a photo without putting it in context against something that we are familiar with. For example if you are photographing a big tree, putting a person near the tree can help the viewer notice the difference in size. Similarly in landscape photography, if you are high up, putting a person in the foreground can help distinguish how high you are.
2. People can provide context to the image
One of the great things about including people in your photos is that it helps to communicate the message you are portraying, to the viewer. For example, a photo of people walking in a landscape scene can portray walking or hiking trips. When translated into the real world, these images can be easier for picture editors to use as they can accompany articles related to that topic. For example the photograph below of someone taking a photo could be used to promote photography holidays, or an article around photographing people.
3. People help tell a story
The saying is “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Photographs can be incredibly powerful and are an essential part of communicating information. Including people in your photos can help tell a story about a scene that would otherwise feel generic. For example the photo of the tourists looking at the statues makes this image much stronger and tells the story of tourists admiring the statues.
4. People add a point of interest
Including people in your photos is a good way to add a point of interest to your shots. This can be especially pleasing to the composition when you have a scene where the colours and patterns are very similar (for example the desert or water). By putting a person in the frame it helps break that repetition and makes for a pleasing end result.
5. People help show movement in an image
Using a slow shutter speed to create some motion blur of people in your photos is a great way of making your images feel more dynamic. This is also a terrific way of photographing some places as it helps to highlight how busy they are. As always, when using a slow shutter speed you need to ensure that you use a tripod to avoid camera shake. You ideally want the static parts of the image to be sharp so that it contrasts against the soft motion blur.
Now it’s your turn? Show us your people photos!
Want more, here are some related articles to check out:
- The Rewards of Photographing People When You Travel
- What does it takes to make a great photo?
- How to Capture the Essence of a Place – Travel Photography Tips