Adding a Sense of Scale to Your Photographs

Three local inuit men on the edge of the wild near Ilulissat, Greenland.

Scale is an important compositional element that can add to the descriptive aspects of your photography. In other words by including a sense of scale in your photographs you can better tell the story in question.

Location, Location, Location

I found these likely lads near the beginning of a hike on the outskirts of Ilulissat in Western Greenland. Most of the walk skirts around the edges of the wonderful Ilulissat Icefjord.

While these are not particularly massive icebergs, adding the human element does provide an indication as to their size relative to the inuit locals in the foreground.

Working With What You Have

However, while a spectacular location, the bergs in this photo are not your classically shaped icebergs. Likewise their contemporary clothing, and the fact that their backs are to the camera,  make it hard to interact with the guys in the photo. All in all not a particularly exotic image. At least to my mind.

Fortunately there were three lads, and it’s always easiest to compose around odd numbered groups. I made four photos of this scene, all the while waiting for the guys to separate enough from each other to suggest a triangular shape.

I also figured that, being guys, at least one of them would throw a stone into the water. It’s a small thing, but probably just enough to add a sense of action into an otherwise static image.

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Knowledge versus Experience

People often confuse knowledge with experience. And, in the world of photography, knowledge could be taken to mean technical prowess over camera and software.

But actual experience comes over time and, in the case of landscape photography, is acquired by being out in the world making photos. And, of course, it comes through making mistakes, learning from those mistakes and taking action to avoid them in the future.

It’s great how, by adding the human element, subject matter within a simple landscape study can be better understood. The human element also introduces more potential to the story you wish to tell. In fact such an addition can very much effect the story or message (e.g., man’s interaction with the environment) contained within the picture. Wouldn’t you agree?

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru