What do you include in your photo and what do you want to keep out? Usually we see other people as a distraction, something that interrupts our photography. At other times we can feel embarrassed about photographing complete strangers. One solution is to include figures, but only at a distance.
At a distance
When you include distant figures you are adding interest to your image without Â that interest dominating the composition. The distant figures add a sense of scale and perspective; they add context to the landscape; they add interest because we’re always interested in people. At a distance it’s less intimidating to photograph people, for both the photographer and the subject. Please do remember to be discreet, and don’t photograph anyone, no matter how distant ,in a situation that you would be uncomfortable having yourself captured.
Layers and a cherry
In this image the landscape is built up with layers: first the pebble beach, then the sea, then the pier, then the sky. the small figures are like the cherry on top of a cake – a little bit of decoration to enhance the main item. So, make the figures loom small in the scale of the image to make the best of the technique. Ideally you shouldn’t be able to distinguish faces – this gives the same effect as Lowry produced in his paintings: perspective and scale without personality.
Don’t forget to isolate
Having told you to include images, remember that there’s still a case for simplification and isolation. Try to frame your shot so that there’s a distinct group that you can use, rather than the foreground being filled with figures. Too many will distract, a few isolated figures will enhance the composition.
Try it for youself
The next time you are shooting a beachscape or landscape, keep the shot wide, but include some figures in the composition to add that little bit of extra interest.