Too many of my travel photos look like this. The subject of the photo is obviously the church, but the random people and cars around it are quite annoying. The traffic light in front of the mosaic is an eyesore.
I'm looking for any advice on how to compose city shots better.
I know a few obvious things. For example, shooting from far away or high up leaves only the buildings visible. Also, if people are moving and there aren't too many of them, they can be removed by either using a long exposure, or by taking multiple pictures and median-filtering.
But in many situations it won't help. Sometimes I have to shoot from street level, and there are too many people to filter out. I don't particularly like long-exposure pictures with blurry people. Filtering also won't help with static objects like traffic lights, overhead power lines, etc.
Instead, what I'm looking for is ways to compose the shot to make these additional object less distracting. For example, in this picture the people look less distracting to me. The boat covered with blue tarp would normally make me cringe, but in this picture it somewhat emphasizes the mood (it seems like it's hiding from rain, even though in reality the tarp is probably always on).
There are relatively simple rules for general photography, like "having leading lines adds depth to the image". Are there similar rules to make people and other things less distracting in city shots?
Note that this is not a question about street photography. That's because a street photographer's main subject are people (and many pictures include relatively little background); in my case, the main subjects would be buildings, landmarks, etc., and I'm only trying to make people around them less distracting.