Rock spur, Chiesa in Valmalenco, Lombardy, Italy © Dirk Wüstenhagen / Westend61 / Offset
Sand Dunes, Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil © Ronald Patrick / Offset
Half a year ago, National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin and writer Grayson Schaffer coined the term “Little person, big landscape!” to describe the kind of picture that appeals to the masses of the Instagram era. We’ve all seen it; a sole figure is dwarfed by a mountain, a forest, a vast expanse of wildflowers or snow. The genre (if we can call it that) is definitely having a moment right now. There’s even a hashtag on Instagram- #tinypeopleinbigplaces– with nearly 80,000 posts. In the wrong hands, it can seem cheap, even trite, but there’s one reason it isn’t going away: when done well, there’s nothing like it.
In defense of “Little person, big landscape!” we’ve pulled together this exhibition of breathtaking images from the Offset collection. Taking us on a journey from Italy to Jordan, Bolivia to Iceland, these pictures take a well-known trope and turn it into something more.
The best “Little person, big landscape!” photographs are hopeful; in a time of tragedy and widespread environmental destruction, they remind us of what’s out there, if only we dare to look. They’re comforting, but they also give us butterflies.
A brief look through art history tells us “Little person, big landscape!” is more than just a trend. The Romantic painters of the 19th century used it frequently to express the sublime in nature, pointing to our own smallness in the face of her intractable potency. Carleton Watkins, whom some consider to be the father of American landscape photography, even used it from time to time. So did Ansel Adams.
True, most photos you find on Instagram are not nearly as good as these. But if even one in one hundred “Little person, big landscape!” pictures makes us stop in our tracks and appreciate our planet just a little bit more, it’s totally worth it.
Parking lot © Grant Faint / Offset
Baia do Sancho beach, Pernambuco, Brazil © Antonino Bartuccio / SOPA Collection / Offset
Verbier, Switzerland © Galeries / Offset
At the pier © Jennifer Nobriga / Offset
Sea cave © Carlos Luna / Offset
Laguna Colorada, Potosi, Bolivia © Gemma Ferrando / Westend61 / Offset
Rope swing overlooking the mountains © Carlos Luna / Offset
Climbing trees in the desert © Summer Murdock / Offset
Wadi Mujib escarpment, as seen from a lookout on Kings Highway, Jordan © Yadid Levy / Offset
Paddleboarding in a mountain lake © The Good Brigade / Offset
Cactus patch, Canary Islands, Spain © Dana and George / Offset
Desert, Rajasthan, India © Matthias Buchholz / Westend61 / Offset
Abandoned house, Stryta, Iceland © Oscar Bjarnason / Image Source / Offset
Collecting shells on a beach, the Black Sea © Karolis Janulis / Offset
Offset is a curated collection of commercial and editorial photography and illustration from award-winning artists around the world. Photographers who wish to join the Offset artist community are welcome to apply here.