From as far back as I can remember, and through all my research on the subject, I’ve known that people like to see people in pictures. In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I stress putting people into their compositions.
Photos are a powerful way to communicate ideas, or tell stories, and in the digital age they’ve become paramount in sending information over the web. A scene without a person in it falls short in getting a message across to the viewer that’s thousands of miles away.
Showing a gondola in Venice floating by itself and moored to a set of stairs down one of the many canals, doesn’t say the same thing as a gondola with two tourists being chauffeured down the same canals by a Gondolier while having a glass of Chianti.
I’m always trying to put people in my photos when I’m trying to show scale to an environment. The viewer can relate to the size of a person since he’s familiar with average heights. Also, where you place the person in the frame will take on different meanings. For example, placing a person in the middle of the frame and close to the lens gives a feeling of intimacy, whereas placing the person in the bottom right corner sends a message of loneliness; as well as the feeling of being small in the scheme of things.
Use people to add color to a ordinarily overcast day. Having someone wearing a red sweater will add Visual Tension and draw attention away from the fact that’s a gray day. Another way to create Visual Tension is by using body language, gesture, and stopping the action of someone and leaving it un-completed. Blurring a person walking or running through your composition not only adds interest, but adds energy to your images.
Silhouettes are a great way to introduce people to your photos. They are abstractions of a three dimensional reality, presented in a tw0-dimensional representation. They add a sense of mystery and drama.
Use people as a ‘payoff”, when through the use of directional lines, you move the viewer through the frame to lead to him or her.Use people as parts that when designed together create Shapes. When traveling, be sure to photograph the people as they are the key to the countries culture.
Finally, Pattern is a basic element of visual design and I like to use people to break the rhythm of patterns.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My next Springtime Workshop will be in Portugal next May, and I have two spots left in my photo tour in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar next February. Come shoot with me sometime.
Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.