I think to criticise any image by saying a person in the picture or not would make it better, is not really possible. It is only when you see the image from the point of capture and composition and the way it is then portrayed through printing/contrast etc., that it has any valid meaning or not. It is very easy to criticize any image, but unless you have something to compare it with, the criticism is seldom valid.
The op questions what would have had to happen for the picture to work.
I stated my opinion.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.