Photographing People in the Landscape

Farm Buildings, Mountains and Sky, Iceland

There are many ways to photograph people in the landscape. From an artists' point of view we could break it down into two primary subcategories: absence and presence. 

Absence

There are no people visible in the above photograph. Yet the farm buildings and fields tell us that people very much inhabit this space in rural Iceland.  

Image Structure

The composition of this image is based, not so much around buildings and landscape, but around tonality, shape and texture. Can you see how the near white of the foreground building is tied in with similar areas of brightness in the sky and echoed in the splashes of light caressing the hillsides.   

Texture is evident in the fields, hillsides and doorway and rooftops of the foreground building. Likewise you notice shapes clearly evident in clouds and, to a lesser extent, the mountain tops and buildings.  

It's a very straightforward image and, if it works, it's because of the narrative it suggests concerning farm life in a pretty remote part of the world and because composition underpins the way i went about making the photo. 

Friends, Greenland

Presence

In the case of the above photo the landscape, though magnificent, is very much playing second fiddle to this group of friends, on the edge of the wilderness, in Greenland. 

Composition Brings Order

It's much easier to compose uneven (e.g. 3, 5, 7, etc) rather than even groups of people. But, in this case, I was able to bring a sense of order to the image by placing these young folk into a series of pairs. Notice the couple in red and the other couple in grey/blue and how the two guys, one on either end, frame our group of friends. 

So, whether your photographs feature people, buildings or landscapes they are, in a way, all about people. While they may not always feature people directly, many photos elude to our pursuits, ambitions and concerns. What we've done, for better and for worse, and what we leave behind: our legacy.

Photography, by it's very nature, documents and preserves the lives of generations. Are you doing enough to contribute to this grand endeavor?  

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru