Composition Week, Day 2: Leading Lines

A strong S-curve leads you into this frame

[Editors Note: This week we have Rob Knight on a weeklong series of composition tips just for you. We’ll have one article every day continuing all the way thru Saturday!]

Lines are a very important part of visual communication. Drawings, paintings, and even letters are made of lines. There a lot of ways you can use lines in your photographic compositions.

You can use lines literally as graphic elements. An S-curve is a popular way to use a line as a graphic element. A landscape shot of a forest is made up of vertical lines. A silhouette is defined by it’s outLINE.

Learn to think beyond literal lines. An implied line can be a row of items in your frame, like footprints on a beach. The photo below is full of real and implied lines that all lead your eye to the subject. The shoreline, the horizon, and the footprints on the beach all lead toward the subject (my wife and my dog).

The leading lines in this shot include the shoreline and the footprints in the sand

There are a couple of things to remember about lines. Your viewer’s eye will tend to follow a line, so use lines to direct the viewer to your subject. You will also want to be conscious of the lines in your background. Avoid poles, trees, etc. sticking out of peoples’ heads. You will also want to avoid decapitating people with background lines if you can help it. These seem like simple things, but it’s those little things that can make the difference between an “amateur” shot and one that looks “professional”.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 23 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Rob Knight is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop Lightroom and a two-time Photoshop Guru finalist. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Rob loves to travel and share his passion for photography with others.
You can follow Rob on twitter @RobKnightPhoto, and find out about Rob’s classes and photo workshops at Rob Knight Photography

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