Which photo do you prefer?

I took this shot of my youngest son, Damian, a few years ago in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Damian and I spent that morning traipsing through the woods, playing in the leaves, and enjoying the breathtaking beauty of autumn in Ohio. And of course, I took a few photos. :)

I rarely include man-made elements in my images – and my landscape photos almost never include people. But sometimes a photo just works better with someone in it. In this case, my little son made a perfect point of interest, and he loved being a part of the photograph.

So, what do you think? Maybe I just like the shot with my son in it because he’s my child, and the memories are good ones. Which photo do you prefer? And why?

11 replies
  1. Brad Mangas
    Brad Mangas says:

    From a strictly landscape photographers view the one without Damian is a beautiful shot, but there is something about a smiling happy child in a beautiful scene that timeless. So on this I would have to say Damian makes me smile as well and the other is just a pretty scene.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I like your choice of words, Brad. “Timeless”. I think you are right about that. A smiling child is something all of us can relate to, so maybe it tugs at our hearts a little bit.

      Reply
  2. Ganesh S Iyer
    Ganesh S Iyer says:

    I most definitely like the one without your cute little young man only because I would have liked him to be in action …. Like playing with the leaves or just looking around and enjoying the natures beauty.. The setting though is stunning with rich colors and the ambience is very peaceful and heavenly…..

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I have another shot with him running through the scene, Ganesh. I used a long shutter speed to let his movements blur, and it adds a lot of energy to the scene. Maybe I should have included that one too! :)

      Reply
  3. Thorstein K. Berg
    Thorstein K. Berg says:

    Either shots works in their own setting. As for lets say a stock-image I think I may be would go for the first image with Damian as I would see that type of shot would sell better, but for my own personal work, I like to exclude as much of the human element as possible, so then I would go for shot number 2 which don’t have the human element in the frame. But as I said, both images work good in their own right.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      Your point is excellent, Thorstein. It’s always important to consider how you’ll be using the image. Actually – that’s why I took more than one photo in this case. The image with my son is for my personal collection – and for stock. And the other image is in my portfolio for fine art.

      Reply
  4. Gary Sprague
    Gary Sprague says:

    Like you until just recently have I ever included people in my landscape shots. Untill I had one of my photography instructors suggested I try to add some point of interest other than just mother nature . I was permitted to use anything or anyone of my choosing. One day while on a photowalk with a small group of people I noticed a few of the less considerate members of the club walking into my frame. So I would wait till they got into just the right position and click away. At the end of the day when we all got back together to compair images emeaditly noticed a compleatly different look to the images with and without a standing point of interest .
    A park or a trail isn’t a park without people. People can really make a particular shot pop . I personaly believe a candid shot works best

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I think the best instructors are the ones who help you think outside your own box, Gary. Sounds like your instructor was a good one. Although I love photos that show nothing but nature – I also think that the human element can add a lot to a photograph. For me, the trick is to find what works for a particular image. I sometimes wish I could just grab the right person and pop them into my shot… has anyone seen a mountain climber wearing red around here? ;) Ha.

      Reply
  5. Gary Simmons
    Gary Simmons says:

    If the goal is to make a ‘great’ photograph, then I prefer the one without the child.

    But if I could make a couple of points. If the goal was to take a portrait of Damian, then I think it is a good one. That is a great scene for portraits, and this would be loved by every parent.

    I think the boy could be better used to make a great landscape here… maybe in the same position, standing with his back to the camera, joyfully kicking at the leaves? Maybe throwing them into the air? Leaning on the fence, staring into the woods? Or riding a bike away from the camera?

    I like to see people in landscape photos, but I think they need to be involved with the scene somehow. While he looks great in this photo, he makes the photo about him, instead of about the scene.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I like your suggestions, Gary. I love candid photography – and in a case like this, there are tons of options for getting a photo of the child engaged in the scene. Excellent point!

      Reply

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