7 Elements of Composition Series: Leading Lines

Have you ever wondered why some photos look mysteriously better than others?  Anyone can take a better picture.  All it takes is insider information and practice.  Here is the second installment of my seven part series called “7 Elements of Composition.”  In this series, I’ll show you how to start taking better pictures right away.

7 Elements of Composition List Contact

To enhance the engagement of the viewer, the second most important tool in composition is the capturing and placement of lines. Actual or implied lines will lead the eyes of the viewer throughout the image.

Take a look at this picture of a mountain road.  Do your eyes begin at the bottom, and then travel up and to the right?  Do you wonder what’s around that curve?  By using these familiar converging lines, you as the viewer are now engaged with the image.

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As you look below at the variety of lines, notice how your eyes move throughout each image.

  • Where does your attention begin and end?
  • Do your eyes move in a straight line or curve?
  • Is your attention drawn
    from outside the frame into it, or
    from one area into another, or
    from inside the image to outside its frame?051 artic-1 mat wm

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Wasn’t that fun?  Now it’s time to think about your pictures.

Lines to guide the viewer into the frame are often convergent lines of sidewalks, hall ways, rows of street lights or trees, edges of buildings, trails, rail road tracks or even edges of shadows. Others can be patterns in nature or architecture.

N_Road to Mt. Baker_Edman-Donna wm051 artic-1 mat wm- 021 lr white mat wm

Lines to keep the viewer inside your picture can be circles, spirals, or a light area into a dark area. Strong straight or diagonal lines can also be used when they end at a smaller, interesting subject.

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Lines can take the viewer from inside your picture to outside the frame when the line starts at a bold, interesting subject and then extends to the edge.

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Let’s build on what you’ve learned about the Rule of Thirds.  When using a subject place it in the center of your image, or using the Rule of Thirds place it on the intersection of two lines.  Look at the images above again. In which images do you see the Rule of Thirds applied?

OK, it’s now time to grab your camera and head out the door!  You are more aware of leading lines, so begin to use them in your composition.

The element of Leading Lines does not stand alone.  How to best use it depends on the other six composition elements.  Are you ready to learn more?  

Check back for my next blog!


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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Fine Art and Commercial Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!