Add People For Impact

Great images can be made where the person takes up less than five percent of the photo yet is an integral component
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When it comes to photographing people, portraiture is often the first word that comes to mind. This brings thoughts of face shots, head and shoulder images, and even full-length body photos. But people photography doesn’t need to be restricted to these criteria. Strong images can be made where a person is secondary in size to the overall composition. So much so, great images can be made where the person takes up less than five percent of the photo yet is an integral component.

I like to incorporate people into my landscape pictures as they tend to be better sellers. Before I decide whether or not I want to do this, I first determine if the composition is strong enough as a standalone image. If the answer is yes, I study it to decide upon a strategic placement of the subject. This often turns out to be one of the power points or what's referred to as the Rule of Thirds. Power points fall at intersecting lines of an imaginary tic-tac-toe board drawn over the viewfinder. Place the subject at one of these intersections to add strength to the image and prevent a bull’s-eyed center of interest.

The inclusion of a person helps tell a story about the setting. It can also add mood, and help fill in the blanks as to why the picture was made. Before you decide to incorporate this concept of photography into your repertoire, make sure you consider some key factors. Does the model belong in the setting with regards to clothing, chosen activity, how they are posed, their size relationship to the scene, etc.? Don’t include people for the sake of doing so. Plan out who will be your model, the time of day you want to shoot, how they'll dress, and what props you want to include. The more prepared you are, the more successful you’ll be creating the photo. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask your subjects to sign a model release. If you want to market the photo, it’s a must.



    Very good learning thought for those who do not like people in their images. People, properly placed in the composition, pull the image together.

    Also, an MIT research project found that the most memorable photographs contain people as elements in the composition.

    Bill Brennan

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