Think of creating landscape images as managing a theater stage performance. You walk in and all the actors are on stage. No-one knows who the lead actor is, who the supporting cast is, even the painters and carpenters are all on stage. The backdrop is unfinished, music, talking, noise everywhere. Total and absolute chaos with no order or control! Your role as the photographer is to take control of the situation fast, turn the total chaos into order, then deliver a polished performance that the audience will love and understand. Take control, impose your will. Be aggressive. “You stand there, you are the main actor. You five are the supporting cast, stand over there. Everyone else off stage, this is what we’re going to do!”
Nominate the main subject of your photograph, the main actor. This is the reason for taking the picture, its purpose, its story. The idea. The castle, a village, whatever it is; but there must be a main actor, or you have no picture. Would we watch a stage play with no lead actor, there would be no focal point if just a mass of supporting cast and the stage backdrop? There would be no plot, no story. However, our main actor has a real serious ego problem. He is happy to work with a lead actress, but apart from that, he seriously, does not like any competition. He wants all the lime-light, he wants everyone to look at him. Nominate a secondary hero to tell the story, but everything else, is strictly supporting cast only.
Having decided our main hero and our secondary hero or lead actor, then everything else is either supporting cast or generic stage backdrop. The supporting cast are the objects that help support the story, but are not the main feature, they set the environment, context, geographic signature. The stage backdrop is the background landscape that still adds valuable information to the story, like where the picture is taken. The role of the supporting cast and stage lighting is to stroke the ego of the main actor, making him look great. However, the supporting cast also want to be lead actors; we must ‘de-emphasize’ to keep them in their place; out of the main spot-light as secondary information.