2 min Essential Photo Guide: Leading Lines

We write a lot of in-depth articles about composition techniques like – Natural Framing, Negative Space – and Leading Lines.

But today we want to give you just the essential meaning of how you can use Leading Lines in your photos. This is a potted guide!

Leading Lines can:

  • Take your eye on a journey – either through the photo or out of it completely (and with roads and paths, often to infinity)
  • Direct your eye to the main subject of the photo
  • Direct your eye in a specific order through various elements of a photo
  • Create depth in a photo – and this is a really fun idea to play with

Now – what do different lines evoke in an image? Some ideas:

Diagonal lines – bring energy and movement

Diagonal lies are excellent at bringing dynamic energy and a sense of movement to your images.

In this photo below these neatly stacked diagonals are bringing your eye quickly into the photo, leading you into the distance.

Horizontal lines – bring calm

For a sense of calm and peace. Our eyes seem to find this direction the most reassuring. This one is obvious:

But how about this one? Horizontal lines still, but a very different subject – urban, a bit grimy and messy. Still calming? I would say yes. I think the eye likes a bit of order.


Curvy lines – are pleasing to the eye

Curvy lines can create a dynamic look and convey energy. In the photo below I think the curved lines are more subtly leading the eye through the photo.

I love the strength the lines convey next to the luxuriously light and ethereal sky.

Another curvy line, this time, a road!

Look up!

Vertical lines – portray strength and power

Vertical lines convey strong feelings of stability and strength both in the man made world:

And in nature (at one of the world’s greatest forests in my opinion, The Lady Bird Johnson trail in the Redwood National Park in my home state of California) :

Or how about a bit of both – horizon and vertical? This was shot at La Defense in Paris. If you love playing with reflections and the hard lines of new buildings it’s an awesome place to shoot.

Implied lines – can also be powerful

Some lines are just implied– but they can still be impactful. See in the photo above how the line of people creates the impact, the story of the photo?

That’s it folks! My 2 minute guide to leading lines. Hope it helps you!

Happy photographing,

Anthony and Diana