Example of leading lines in photographyThe composition rules in photography all serve the general purpose of engaging the image’s viewer with the image.  That may be through getting an image that follows certain standards of beauty or enticing some sort of interaction from the viewer.  The purpose of leading lines in a photograph is to lead the viewer’s eye through (and occasionally right out of) the photograph so that they view the image as the photographer wants them to see it, starting at point A and following a specific path to see the image as the photographer saw the scene.  Leading lines are also used to bring the viewer’s  attention to one particular point in the image, generally the main subject.

How the leading line is achieved and what is used to construct it is completely up to your imagination.  Railroad tracks are probably the most common example of a leading line.  But fences, roads, the edge of a building, or a row of similar objects can all make a leading line.  As mentioned in the Framing the Subject post the “rules” o f composition are not absolute so much as they are guidelines to use and expand upon to produce images that are appealing.  As photographers we have to interpret and often break or reconstruct these rules to get the images we are after.

Example of leading lines in photography. Example of leading lines in photography

The image in the upper right is using the yellow lines of the road as the leading line to start the viewer in the lower left corner of the photograph and leading them to the center and the sunset.

The photograph of the tunnel above is simply directing the viewer’s eye to a termination point of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally, the image of the path on the right takes the photograph viewer from the shade to the light and finally the museum building at the end of the path.  In this photo one could argue that the path, or the leading line, itself is the subject rather than termination point of the museum.

1 Response to “Photography 101 – Composition in Photography – Leading Lines”

  1. Learning About Composition | HOMETOWN BETTY

    on March 10 2014

    […] Source: Harry Callahan and Mike Small Photography […]

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