Use People in Your Wide Shots to Make Them More Interesting

The Crowded Louvre

Sometimes we just wish we could clear all the people out of the spot we are standing so we can get a nice pictures.  Unfortunately, you often can't make the people go away, so why don't you use them to your advantage?  Sometimes people in your landscape or architectural shots can add an interesting element.  In the photo above, I used a slow shutter speed (1/25 second) that I could hand hold but that allowed me to capture the motion of the people moving past and towards the sculpture.  Adding motion blur is a great way to make the people in the photo a more interesting element.  In the photo below, I had my camera on a tripod so I was able to slow down the shutter even more (30 seconds), to create a ghostly effect.

Waiting for IllumiNations

Sometimes you just have to experiment to see how the image will come out.  You can't even tell that the ghostly swirls in the image below are actually a crowd walking by.  I wanted to take a picture of the buildings in Fantasyland, but if I had just used a normal shutter speed, there would have been people blocking it.  By propping the camera on a ledge and using a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds, the people turned into ghosts, semi-transparent, so you can see the building behind them.  Don't forget when you're using a slow shutter speed that your aperture and ISO need to be adjusted to create a properly exposed image.  If you're shooting in shutter speed priority (Tv or S on your mode dial), this is done for you automatically once you select the shutter speed you want.  If you want a shutter speed of slower than 1/15 seconds, you'll probably need a tripod.

The Ghosts of Fantasyland

Motion blur isn't always necessary to make the people in the photo interesting.  People admiring artwork add another level of interest to a photo than just taking a photo of the art itself.

Admiring Impressionist Artwork

People can also be a great tool for illustrating size.  If you look closely at the photo below, there are two people heading down toward the waterfall.  They are so small that once you notice them, it gives you a much better idea of how big this fall was in person.  I could have easily cloned them out in Photoshop, but I liked what they added to the image.

Thacher Park

So next time there are people in the way of your next great photo, ask yourself how you can use them to enhance the photo!


  1. I also think that HDR helps with people in photos.....I think it makes them something that should be there rather than something you wish wasn't.


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