Elements of Composition Pt II – Leading Lines

An abstract painting with lines going across the canvas more often than not shows flow, usually of the brush strokes.

Photo by Len dela Cruz

The similar concept is applied in photography. Lines in a photo will introduce a motion. Not only do lines lead the eyes of your viewers to the main subject of the image but it also provides direction to what would be a still image.

This time, we’ll talk about the usage of leading lines in photography. In nature, our eyes are drawn naturally lines. Lines of a sentence in a book you’re reading to the lines on the streets that divides the lanes you’re driving on. We are always connected with lines.

The next time you’re about to take a photo, determine your compositional lines. It’s an important decision that every photographer must make.

There are various elements that can merge to become leading lines. All of them will come together to create a visual flow to your image. Leading lines usually enters the image from either side at the bottom of your image. It can even enter from the middle of your image. Good leading lines will draw your viewer in almost hypnotizingly.

There are many different types of lines, not just straight ones! Diagonal, zigzag, and radial lines are almost always present in our photos.

Knowing when and how to incorporate these into your photograph will highly improve the quality of your image. Sometimes, you’d find an arrangement of lines in nature that converge to create flow. At times, man-made elements can serve as leading lines, too. This includes paths of a sidewalk, patterns on a wall, structures of a building, etc. You’d even come across a time where you can combine the two elements together to create a strong leading line.

Photo by Wellington Rodrigues

Even in busy images that contain a lot of detail, leading lines can still stand out. This creates a strong base for either your foreground or background. Contrast between light and dark, foreground and background also acts as an element to create your compositional leading lines.

Should this happen, the leading lines could enter the image, not from the hot corners. But perhaps from the top two corners of your image. Of course, you can’t predict the exact path where your viewer’s eye might travel in your image but you can help them journey from one subject to another.

It all comes down to which destination you want your viewers to reach.

Everything about composition in its heart is how we as the photographer see the world.

So how will you share your view? 

Featured Image by Yuri Efremov

Read our Elements of Composition Pt I – Rule of Thirds.

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