Why Photograph People in the Landscape

A young woman writing in a diary in front of a beautiful church facade in Paris, FranceCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens

Here's a church in Paris that features a particularly lovely facade. I made the photo at dusk under fading light. You'll notice that the photo includes a young woman sitting on the church steps appearing to write or draw onto a notepad. Perhaps she's making a diary entry, drawing a sketch or writing a postcard home. It's interesting how including a human element into the photo adds to the meaning we derive from it. There are several reasons while you might decide to include a person into a landscape, be it urban or natural, including the following:


To provide a sense of scale through comparing the size of the person with other elements within the frame. In doing so its easier to make sense of the scene. "Wow! that really is a big old iceberg."

Similarities and Differences

Exploring the relationships between old and new, male and female, organic and inorganic, smooth and rough, religious and secular, etc

Message and Metaphor

As mentioned early, by including a human element within the frame you're opening up the photo to new interpretations and new realities. Sometimes you're in control of the message, sometimes not. But the fact that a more ambiguous image can be read in numerous ways is, more often than not, good news for the artist as it encourages a wider audience to engage with your work.

It's great to have a good idea about the sort of photos you want to make. However, it's just as important to stay open to what opportunities the location, at that particular moment, make available to you.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved
Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru