How to Compose an Image – Use Leading Lines
Leading lines are a relatively easy aspect of composition to understand. The idea is to use a line within the image to lead your eye towards a particular point. There may be more than one “leading line” if you wish. The important thing is that the leading lines direct you towards the focal point or one of the focal points of your image. Lines that lead you away from the focal point(s) are generally less helpful and may serve to undermine your composition. A good use of lines can strengthen your composition, ensuring the viewer sees what you want them to. All kinds of things can act as leading lines. In landscapes they might be paths, rivers, roads, power cables, ploughed furrows in fields, hedgerows, lines of trees, etc. They could also include lines created by buildings in cityscapes or street photography. The lines don’t have to be straight – there is no reason why you can’t use a curved or bendy set of leading lines. Just look around you and see if you can find features that would draw the eye towards a particular point. This may of course mean that you need to move to get the most out of the opportunity!
Here are a few examples of compositions that use leading lines:
Each of these images uses leading lines as part of the composition, sometimes in a very obvious way and sometimes more subtly. You might like to try taking a few new pictures of your own, concentrating on using leading lines. Or, you could look back at some of your better images and see if you have used leading lines in them without realising it and what they have added to your compositions.
© Joe Lenton, October 2014