Photography is an art form and as artists, we can purposefully use elements within the frame to persuade the viewer’s eye to follow a path. This can be done in many ways and one of those ways is to use leading lines as in the image below.

Leading Lines

Do you feel your gaze starting to drift from the left side of the frame towards the subject’s face by following the lines formed by the window blinds?

Placing your subject where lines converge can result in a more dramatic image because they act as a “lead up” to the point of interest. An important rule to remember when using leading lines is to make sure you don’t lead the viewer’s eye right out of the frame. Having my subject at the end of the lines stops the gaze from continuing off the image. Also, it’s natural for us to start at the left side of a picture and move to the right. The photo above was actually flipped horizontally so that it would be more pleasing for the viewer.

Below is the original photo which you’ll notice I had cropped, to cut out the part where the blinds meet. It was a bit distracting.
Leading Lines - Original

Which of the two images was “easier” on the eyes?

There are a few more characteristics of lines that you may want to keep in mind when composing your shots. Diagonal or straight lines can cause the gaze to proceed too quickly along the viewing path. A curved path will slow down the velocity and allow for a more leisurely visual “walk” along your photo. For example, place your subject on a curvy path that starts on the bottom left of your frame leading upwards and towards the right where your subject is. Sorry, I don’t have an example of this one but once my little one is walking, I’ll try to capture that type of image.

Although, generally speaking, you will see and use leading lines more often if you shoot landscapes rather than portraits, lines can come in handy when you want to create a visual path to your model allowing your viewer to enjoy the “stroll”.

Laura is a Vancouver wedding and portrait photographer. Visit laurahana.com.