DSLR Photography 101: Leading Lines

Megan O'Neill


Over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a look at photo composition, starting with cropping and framing and the rule of thirds. Today, we’re exploring the concept of leading lines.

Leading lines are the lines that lay within your image and serve to direct the viewer to areas of interest within the photograph, as well as to create depth and dimension. They can be straight, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, or wavy.

To understand what we mean, take a look at the photograph below, taken by our consumer customer owner Beth. In this image, as you can see, the lines that make up the sides of the bridge not only create a sense of depth in the photo, but also lead your eyes up to the subject’s face.

Leading Lines

The following photo is another example of how leading lines can be used to draw attention to your subject. In this example, the leading lines (illustrated by arrows) intersect behind the subject’s head — the focus of the photo.

Leading Lines

You can strengthen your image even further by placing the subject in the frame using the rule of thirds, a concept we explained last week. In the photo above, Beth placed the subject’s eyes at one of the intersections of the rule of thirds grid.

To see how leading lines can help show depth in a photograph, check out the image below. The world and your subject are not flat, like a printed photograph. Lines can serve to give the feel of distance, depth, and space. In this example, the rows of trees lining the water get smaller and smaller as they move further back, giving a sense of infinity, like they go on forever. This is known as vanishing point.

Vanishing Point Photography

We’d love to see your photographs that utilize the principle of leading lines. Share them with us in the comments below.

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