Adding a human element to landscapes

While I love to shoot landscapes, sometimes adding a human element to the photo adds to it as well. I’m not the one to take portraits but adding someone to the photo in one way or another—not necessarily looking towards the camera—can add an element of scale, interest, or storytelling to the overall scene.

Whether it’s someone sitting on the edge of a cliff, standing in the middle of a dessert, or jumping in the air in a cityscape, the human element brings another form of interest to the photo.

I do find it refreshing in a way to see someone in the photo, but I tend not to overdo things and keep to what I like the most: pure landscape photography.

Nikon D800, 15mm, 1/640 sec., f/9, ISO 100.
Nikon D800, 15mm, 1/640 sec., f/9, ISO 100.

I took this photo on the top of the Scarborough Bluffs when I met a friend there earlier this Spring. Rather than just taking a picture of the usual scene, I asked her to stand at the edge of a cliff and look out. By including some foreground to the image, I was further able to make it look like she was the only one there in a wide expanse leading to the edge. There’s a few trees on the right hand side that I wished were a little less prominent, but I’m not the one to Photoshop these out for this purpose.

For this particular photo, I do think the human element adds more interest to the photo than if I were to take it without one. This landscape alone would seem like it’s missing something to complete the picture.

The takeaway to this is to be sure to mix things up a bit and try and add some people to your photos, even if you’re not the type to typically take photos of them. It may work out better than you think!

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