Leading Lines

You always want the viewer of your photographs to know where to look.  You don’t want them confused or chances are they won’t look at your photos at all.  That’s not a good thing, right?
No, it isn’t.

Leading lines are an easy way to lead your viewer right into your photograph.  By using lines you are controlling the way people’s eyes move around a picture.

Converging lines, such as in this photo of the tree-lined road, give a strong sense of perspective and three-dimensional effect.  I almost feel as if I can step right into the image and walk down the road.  A beautiful scene isn’t it?

The same is true of this image.  The lines of the shelves lead your eye directly into the background, though the dull white background is not too interesting,  is it?  The purpose of showing this image is to show you an example of how lines work.  Have a serious look at this image, and think –  would the photo composition be better if it were off centre?  If you pay close attention the focal point is directly in the middle.  The notebooks on the left and the boxes on the right are focused directly in the middle as well.  Would this photo be stronger if the focal point was at the end of the shelving unit?  I think it might be.  What do you think?

Curved lines can lead you on a journey around the frame and this is great because then you will see the entire contents of a photo.  In this image, the eye begins at the lower right and follows the road through the image to the top.  A splendid use of leading lines, in turn, creates a strong composition.  And, what a stunning landscape photograph.

As does this image.  Lines don’t have to be tree-lined roads or roads at all.  The flowering bush offers a creative line meandering right to the woman’s face.  In fact, the eye could move from the left upward or the bottom right upward.  Do you see this?  A fantastic image really.  So, when you are out and about with your camera pay close attention and you’ll find lines almost anywhere.

This photo of the horse is stunning.  Do you see the line?  No, it’s not the horse’s hair thought that works.  Instead, the line begins at the corner of the eye and sweeps upward to the left.  Nicely done.

One last photo before we go simply because it is so beautiful and incorporates leading lines nicely. There are several lines to consider here. First, do you see the lines from the purple dress? If you begin at the bottom of the photo the lines lead your eye to the woman’s arm and then your eye continues to her face. 

It doesn’t stop there. Once your eye reaches her face, then our attention is shifted to the implied line created by the direction she is looking.  The entire photo is brilliant.  Additionally, the oars of the boat – one on the left and one on the right lead to the woman. This is a stunning photo and the composition could not be stronger. You might notice the light, too, which is simply beautiful. 

Oftentimes, too many lines create a visual problem.  In this photograph, however, the lines are subtle and work beautifully together.

It is almost impossible for the eye not to follow a line pulling you right into an image.  Leading lines are an effective technique for strong composition but also a fantastic way to engage your audience.

Consider reading Pixpa’s outstanding in-depth article about leading lines and their importance for creating strong photo composition.

For more examples of leading lines, please download the PDF attached to this post.


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