Simple Tips to Improve your Travel Photography – Include People in Your Images

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Turkey_KavDadfar

With photography being more and more accessible, it has never been more imperative to take unique photos. After all, picture editors have thousands of images of pretty much every location to choose from, so as photographers we need to give them something different to stand out from the crowd. Including people in your travel photos can really add a uniqueness that would make them stand out.

Here are some simple tips on how you could include people in your travel photography:

For sense of scale

Including people in your photos is a great way to give the viewer a sense of scale and prospective. Our brains are much better at processing scale in photos when we can compare something we are familiar with. So next time you are on top of a mountain, next to a big tree, or in a vast wilderness, try to include a person in the image to give the viewer a sense of scale.

Scotland_KavDadfer

I took a few photos of this beach without anyone on it, but by far the most impressive is this shot that highlights the size.

Tell a story

Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo is simply to include people. This can give context to what might be a generic scene, and help portray a story about that location. A cyclist on a path tells much more of an intriguing story than just an empty path.

Couple_KavDadfar

Including people in your photos can help tell a story. This photo sold within a few days of going online.

Adding a point of interest

Simply adding a person, or group of people, to a scene can transform what would be a dull composition into something that instantly draws the viewer in. This is especially great in scenes where you have similar colours (e.g. water or snow) or even patterns like fields and sand. The person will act as an anchor, draw the viewer’s eyes and ensure that your image has a point interest.

Woman_UAE_KavDadfar

This woman adds a point of interest to the scene that might otherwise look boring.

Creating a mood

Is the place you are photographing buzzing with activity? Or is it a place of tranquility in a big city? Including a person or people in your shots can really create a sense of mood and emotion in the final photo that might not exist without it. Try to think about the scene and what it could possibly be showing if you included a person in it.

Balloons_KavDadfar

The people in this shot help portray the serenity and calmness of the scene.

Be creative

If you are lucky enough to be traveling with a companion, think about using them as a model to help make your images more creative. But rather than just snapping away, try to think about the scene and what you are hoping to achieve. Sometimes you can push the boundaries even further and capture unique photos that you wouldn’t be able to get without a willing model.

Turkey_Balloons_KavDadfar

By turning my view slightly from inside the hot air balloon I was able to capture the people which not only gave the photo a sense of scale but helps to give it more context.

So next time you are about to take that picture of that beautiful landscape, or famous landmark, just pause and think if including a person will improve your composition.

Now it’s your turn. Share your photos, thoughts and tips below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kav Dadfar is a professional travel photographer based in the UK. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty and Axiom Photographic and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, Lonely Planet, American Express, and many others. To keep up to date with his latest news follow him on his Facebook page

  • Md Rasel Mridha

    its very good tutorial i like its so authentic i have learned manythings from here keep it up all the time.

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  • Kav Dadfar

    Thanks. Glad you found it useful

  • Marcos Pegorini

    Very nice tips – take a look on one shoot I took in Ukraine

  • Buster Gut

    For the most part People are the last thing I want in my travel photography, I will wait for ages until they are gone, or edit them out later

  • kazjasn

    Great advice. Here is proof, the timing was by luck, we arrived just as he clambered over the rocks 🙂 in Laos south of the 4,000 islands.

  • Bhaskar

    Use a 6-8 stop ND Filter. Expose your photos for 6-8 mins with f/8 or f/11 at an ISO of 100 and see the people in the photograph disappear. In this way you can save your time. I personally do not prefer to have people in my landscape shots.

  • Buster Gut

    I have waited a lot longer than 6-8 min so I shall certainly try that, thank you so much.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Without the man in the photo it would be impossible to get a sense of scale! Good work and well done for spotting him.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Buster

    That’s absolutely fine, the great thing about photography is that it is subjective and one picture editor would want a clean photo with no one in it, whilst another will want to ensure that a photo has a human element. Usually I try to capture both versions, with people and without people just so I have them incase I need them and yes sometimes a scene works better without anyone in it. Important thing is to do what enjoy. Kav

  • Buster Gut

    Thanks for a great article and your reply, I got a useful tip from Bashkar so glad I commented.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Marcos

    This is what I love about photography, capturing these sort of moments. I’m actually wondering what this image would look like in colour and as I’m imagining a nice sunny day with bright colours. Your composition is nice, I would just work on bringing out the contrast a bit more in post production (that’s just my opinion). Good work! Kav

  • Guest

    I love being out in, and hiking in Nature, and while I like to get the scenery, I have found the shot on a trail of hikers ahead of me on the trail, or standing on a precipice overlooking the landscape really adds to the photo. Gives it a Kashi feel. 🙂

  • Katielee4211

    I love to hike and snap as I go along. Although I think I prefer no people, when I do include them or they happen to be there, I must say it adds a depth and context to the photo it doesn’t otherwise have.

  • Robin Graves

    Thanks for the endless articles and tips, they have been a goldmine to me in terms of improving my photography over the last year. Here is one I took a couple of days ago at Potato Chip Rock. I think that the people in this photo are the only way to really appreciate the scale of the place…

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Robin,
    No problem, I’m glad you have found them useful. Stay tuned as there are a lot more articles coming up in the coming weeks!

    Wow! What a view and a place! I love the shot, beautiful light and great composition. Yes the people are integral to the shot there would be no way of getting the sense of scale without them especially the person sitting on the edge.

    I would personally crop out the man in the very questionable blue t-shirt on the right I find it distracting and it draws my eyes to it. You want the focus to be on the person on the edge so you could even crop the image up a little so it’s a bit more of a panoramic shot. But these are minor details. Great shot and well done!

    Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi, sometimes a clean image with people works bets and sometimes people to give it that little bit extra. That’s the great thing about photography! Every scene is different and works best with a different composition and light!

  • Kav Dadfar

    Whenever possible, I try to get both versions. With and without. That way I’m covered either way.

  • Heloisa

    When I was little I always wondered why people thought so interesting those pictures with absolutly no one in it, just plain landscape. Today I do appreciate those beautiful landscape photos but if you let people go into the frame and inside that moment you are capturing…what a difference! Thanks for the tips Kav, your articles are always really good!

  • Kav Dadfar

    No problem, glad you find the useful. There are a lot more articles already in the pipeline for the coming weeks so stay tuned!

    Lovely shots by the way, love the first one in the Blue Mosque. Works perfectly!! Well done.

  • Thank you very much for your feedback, I have done as you suggested with the picture and it is now minus one blue shirt!

    It was a beautiful area and the first time I had been on a trip to take photos in the USA. I hope to be able to go to Arizona in the near future as I see lots of photos from there and find myself dumbfounded at the natural beauty that the area has to offer…

    Thanks again and I look forward to more articles soon!

    Rob

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