When I started in landscape photography, I couldn't stand having people in my shots. It puzzled me as I didn't know how to take advantage of the human figure within the context of a landscape, and whenever it was possible to discard the human figure, I did so.
Over time I studied the work of other photographers and discovered that the human figure can can add to an image, even in a landscape.
A human figure can help us understand dimensions and context, even emphasize them. The human component also brings us closer to the environment. It shows us the possibility of us being in that place, it invites us in and tells us: “you could be there”.
Once you have the bug to include people in your landscapes, what happens when there is no one and you feel the need to include the human figure in the shot?
One option is the self-portrait, a technique that will undoubtedly allow you to improve your photographic “skills”, because you will have to make decisions to “shape” your shot.
Personally, the first thing is the composition. Does the location call me to include myself in the shot? If so, I will have to choose the place where my figure contributes to the image, and not the other way around.
Once you've chosen your location, set up the tripod and decide on the composition for your shot, work out the best camera settings, and then use the 10 second self-timer to allow yourself time to get to your chosen position.
As an alternative, if you need to move further away and the 10 seconds do not give you enough time to get into position, activate the interval timer. With this function, the camera will shoot a photo every x seconds and you can take your time getting safely into position, and wait for one of the shots to capture you standing still in the right place.
From avoiding including the human form in my landscapes, I now find self-portrait in my landscape photography is an excellent exercise to improve my photographic technique, both in terms of composition and skills. Why not give it a go?
Find out more about Vanguard Ambassador Joan Vendrell