Photography Composition: Lines

This article just skims the surface. This photography course goes into greater detail. If you really want to learn how to use lines and improve your photography take a look at IPS.

Why Are Lines Important in Photography?
Understanding how to use lines in your photography is a great tool for creating stunning images. If you harness the power of lines in photography you can illicit a responses from your photograph viewers. Often this response happens on a subconscious level but it's still important to know how to use lines in order to achieve your desired response. A good photograph will almost always make use of one kind of line or another. Below are some types of lines in photography and some examples.

Implied Lines
Implied lines are not actual lines that you are used to seeing. They are instead implied in the picture area. They are made by the way objects are placed within the 4 walls of your photograph. Very often an actual object will create a line such as s tree, a railroad track or telephone wires.

Vertical Lines
Vertical lines run up and down. They help stimulate feelings of dignity, height, grandeur and strength. You can find vertical lines in buildings, trees, fences, or even people standing up. Look at the following picture and think about your interpretation of the vertical lines in the following forest picture.

Horizontal Lines
Horizontal lines usually denote a repose, a calmness, tranquility and peacefulness. An example would be a person lying in the grass sleeping, flowers in a field, the flatness of a desert scene or lake. You can make your photograph elicit these feelings if you look for them in the picture area and use them in your photographs.

Diagonal Lines
This like gives the sensation of Force, Energy and Motion as seen in trees bent by the wind, a runner at the starting line or the slope of a mountain as it climbs into the sky. By knowing this you can create Force, Energy and Motion with your camera easily by tilting the camera to make objects appear to be in a diagonal line. A dignified church steeple when photographed at a slant will change to a forceful arrow pointing towards the sky and show motion.

Curved Lines
Curved lines are all about beauty and charm. The best example of this would be a beautiful female form with all its lines and curves. Of course there are other examples: The curve in a river or a pathway through a flower garden.

photo by dp_danny

S Curves

This line goes further than just a plain curved line. It is called the Line of Beauty. It is Elastic, Variable and combines Charm and Strength. It has Perfect Grace and Perfect Balance. You have seen this S Curve hundreds of times in drawings and paintings and other works of art.

Examples: the double curve of a river makes an S curve. A path, row of trees or bushes that curve one way and then the other way create the S curve. Look for this type of design and use it in your photos to add interest and beauty.

Leading Lines
The line that leads your eye in to the picture area easily like a road or fence, a shoreline or river, a row of trees or a pathway. A successful Leading Line will lead your eye in to the picture and take it right to the Main Subject or Center of Interest

An unsuccessful Leading Line will take the eye in to the picture but will ZOOM the eye right OUT of the picture if there is no Stopper to hold the eye in the picture frame; such as a tree, house or other large object on the right hand side of the picture frame which will STOP the eye from going out of the picture. The Center of Interest or Main Subject will act as a Stopper and hold the eye in the picture frame.

photo by lrargerich

The best Leading Lines will start at the Lower Left area of the picture frame but not in the exact corner. Again, the eye likes to enter a picture frame at this point and the Leading Line will help it get in to the picture easily and swiftly.

Here is a video about this subject:

Video by ProfessionalPhotography Tips

Other Photography Articles:
Photography Color Psychology.
Photography Color Balance and Highlighting.
General Photography Composition.
Photography Composition: Shape.

Don't Forget!
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