People in the Landscape by Mark Hamblin
Landscape photographers tend to prefer scenes unspoiled by the presence of people. Mark Hamblin argues that instead we should embrace them to add another dimension to a scene
As landscape photographers we often curse that other people should have the audacity to share the same landscape that we are trying to photograph and generally regard them as a nuisance. Valuable moments when we could be taking pictures are wasted as we wait for them to disappear from view or become so small that they can easily be cloned out of the photograph. And whilst this remains a hazard for landscape photographers shooting in popular scenic areas, the inclusion of people in your images shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing and at times is something to be embraced as a way of adding another dimension to a picture.
Of course, you don’t really want to include people unless they are adding something to the landscape you are photographing, but an appropriately placed person can add a much-needed focal point, additional interest or a sense of scale to a picture. Irrespective of size, a figure in the landscape will naturally draw the eye and therefore provide either the main focal point or an important point of interest within the picture. This is hugely advantageous in terms of composition and can provide not only a vital focal point to what otherwise may be a rather rudderless landscape but also helps to anchor the picture more effectively.
The reason for or desire to include people in a landscape photograph can also serve as a way of giving the picture an identity. This is perhaps especially relevant in rural environments where you would expect to encounter people, such as farmland, where people are an intrinsic part of the landscape. But equally it may apply to many other landscapes where a person can be used as an effective means to provide further information about the environment to the viewer. This can cross over into more of a...