Leading Lines

Leading lines in photography can be a powerful compositional tool. This simple technique helps a photographer bring the viewer’s eye to a focal point, and gives a picture an overall structure in terms of layout.

Basically, any time there is a strong line in a photograph, the spectator’s eye will naturally follow along it. This can be anything from a man-made object like a telephone pole or a road, to a natural object such as a tree or even a dark shadow. You can also pose people so that their posture creates this kind of focal point.

You can use this technique to control the viewer’s experience in a way that creates harmony or symmetry, by using one line to create a peaceful narrative. Or, you can create tension and drama by having intersecting or competing lines that fight for a spectator’s focus. When you master this compositional trick, you have vastly more control over how the emotional content of your photos will be perceived.

You can use them to give a picture a feeling of motion, by creating a visual narrative that leads the eye on a dynamic journey. Some photographers use them as guideposts that actually draw the viewer’s attention across the photo to the edge of the image, and suggests a focal point beyond the picture’s frame.

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