Using Leading Lines in Photo Composition

How to Use Leading Lines & Curves for Better Composition

Sometimes it is hard to photograph outside where there are unpredictable backgrounds. Have you ever taken a photo that you loved (like, really loved) only to find out that there is a random branch behind your subject that looks like it is poking them in the head? Or, you didn’t notice a distracting object in the background until it was too late?

We have all been there and mother nature doesn’t always play nice. However, there are ways to make the outdoors work FOR you - by placing your subjects in the perfect spot so that the leading lines and curves that are in the shot work to draw attention to what you want and provide nice composition.

Photoshop Actions - Pretty Actions

Let’s go over these concepts by reviewing some examples:

Mimic the Lines & Curves You See

Take note of any trees in your frame. Notice their shape and the way they curve. When photographing couples, mimicking the lines of trees can dramatically change an image.

By placing couples below or between trees, you are able to frame them in. It’s like creating your very own picture frame with branches. By doing this it draws our attention to the couple and their unified composition within the frame.

As you can see in the photo below, the two trees mimics the look of the two figures as they walk into the sunset together (how romantic, right?). By copying what the trees are doing, the attention is brought to the couple.

Photo Composition Lines

In the next example image, I posed the couple side by side and had them come in close to each other. Look at how the curve of the main tree branch is arching over them. That line is similar to the line of his arm around her. The branch is hugging them, and he is hugging her. These curves draw you into their intimate moment together.

In general, when you are told something twice, you know that is must be important! So, you pay attention, right? By copying the curve of the branch again with the couples embrace, you are telling the viewer the same thing - it appears twice – so it must be special!

Guiding Lines Photography

Shoot Between the Lines

In perspective shots, people will naturally follow leading lines with their eyes to see where they will intersect. It’s like an arrow saying, “Look here!”

Place your subject right where those lines meet and your viewer will automatically focus on what you want them to. The lines of a bridge or building will quickly become your friend.

Let’s look at this next example image. First of all, how cute is she?! Second, check out those lines! We have the yellow line under her that leads us to the focal point: her. There are also lines from the bridge railings that lead directly to her face. In this photo, all lines lead directly to where we want the attention to go and the first thing we see when we look at the photo is her face.

Leading Lines Photo

In this next example image, I put this senior smack dab in the middle of these leading lines. The line from the top of the fence disappears right where his head is. On the right side, the leading lines of the building draw the eyes into his head as well.

To accentuate this look, I had him grab his glasses. This connects those white lines with his face. So, we not only draw attention to his face, but we specifically focus on his eyes. Even better!  By placing the subject in the middle of the lines, we get the viewer to focus on what we want them to.

Leading Lines Pictures

Play With Leading Lines & Curves

In this next example, you can see several lines and curves. The curve of her arms supporting herself, the lines of the railroad track, and the straight lines of her body - each of these lines is doing something different. Be creative and experiment with leading lines and see what happens.

Leading Lines Photography

Conclusion

Try reviewing some images on your own! Look at the photos and see where your eye naturally goes. Pick out the leading lines and curves that entice your eye to go to that spot. Once you nail that down, try implementing this into your own outdoor shoots.

Pay attention to the lines and curves that are at your disposal and use them to their full advantage in your composition!

Leading Lines Photography Definition

Do you have any questions or comments about Using Leading Lines for Better Photo Composition?  Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you!  And please share our tutorial using the social sharing buttons - we really appreciate it!

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