Leading Lines

Leading Lines

Do you want to learn how to use lines in your photographs to create stronger compositions? In this short video, learn how leading lines can guide your viewer’s eyes through your image.

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Video Transcript

Do you want to learn how to use lines in your photographs to create stronger compositions? Hi, I’m Julie from Ultimate Photo Tips, and today’s Two Minute Photo Tips is all about using lading lines.

The first thing you need to know is that the human brain is hard-wired so that our eyes follow lines in whatever we look at. You’re doing it subconsciously. You don’t even know it’s happening, but your eyes are always following lines. As a photographer, you can use that to your advantage because you know that when someone’s looking at your photograph, their eyes are following the lines. That means that if you place your subject at the end of a line, you can lead your viewer’s eye to the subject. That’s why they’re called "leading lines."

If you have a winding road, or a curved plants stem, you know that your viewer’s eye is going to track, probably slowly, throughout the whole image. If you want higher impact, place your subject at the end of a straight line, and your viewer’s eye will go directly to it.

leading lines
Leading Lines
The red edge of the cactus leads your eye through the image in an S-curve.
© Julie Waterhouse Photography

On the flip side, make sure that you don’t have any lines that don’t lead anywhere. Your viewer will be disappointed if they get to the end of a line, and it’s a bit of a let down because there’s nothing there.

leading lines
The fence leads you up and out of the image.
You may find that this image does not hold your
attention very long.
© Julie Waterhouse Photography

You also want to avoid having a line that leads straight out of the frame. Your viewer’s eye is going to follow it, and be straight out of the frame, and not looking at your photograph any more.

Use lines very strategically in your images to get your viewer to look wherever you want them to.

If you like this video, please like it, tweet it and share it with your friends. For more great tips, be sure to visit ultimate-photo-tips.com and sign up for my newsletter, where I share tips, ideas and inspiration that I don’t share anywhere else!

Here are a few more examples:

leading lines
Leading Lines, © Julie Waterhouse Photography
The pink cloud leads your eye in to the trees, and then the line of the trees leads you
to the horizon.

leading lines
Leading Lines, © Julie Waterhouse Photography
The road leads you throgh the image to the bright area, but the
trees at the end of the road keep your eye in the image.

leading lines
We connect the dots of the lights to form a line.
© Julie Waterhouse Photography


One other trick to note is that our brains are able to mentally “connect the dots” to form lines, as in this example on the right.

Happy shooting, and I’ll see you next time.


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