It’s kind of funny that as a portrait photographer, I rarely have people in my landscape photos. Some part of my brain likes to keep them separated I guess. But I recently decided that this isn’t always the best idea, and have been working to change that.

Here are a couple of ideas why adding a human element to your landscapes is a great idea.

Tell a story

A landscape is just a landscape. Sure it can be breathtakingly beautiful, but sometimes adding a little human element can help tell a little more of the story.

Perhaps it’s a famous surf beach. Or perhaps a romantic picnic spot. What about snow or hikers on a trail? Adding that small human element can tell a story, as well as depict a beautiful landscape.

Add a sense of story

Add scope and scale

Especially when dealing with epic landscapes of grand proportions, adding a human element can give a real sense of scope and scale. Far from making your human element feel minuscule, you can impress the sheer scale of the landscape your viewer is looking at.

Add a sense of scale

Anonymous is fine

If you don’t know the person, anonymous is fine. Especially if you can’t really see their facial features.

This is not an environmental portrait or anything here. As it is shot out in the open and it could be anyone, there would be no recourse.

Of course, if it is a friend or family member you can add them in, it’s a unique memento of your adventure.

Make your landscape unique

The early riser

I am NOT by nature an early riser, but there is something to be said for getting to a beautiful location early. One is the beautiful light in the early morning, the other is the lack of people to get in your way. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having no people in your landscape photos, but occasionally adding one or two can add dimension to your images.

Want to learn a little more about shooting landscapes in the early morning light? Check out this post by Jeremy Gray.

So next time you are capturing a beautiful location, think about adding a human element to your landscape photos!