When you start getting interested in photography and look to improve, there are a few “rules” which help – things like the Rule Of Thirds or ensuring you’ve got a Single Focal Point/Subject in shot are very useful.
The rule I like best is “lead lines” – these are what they say on the tin really, lines that lead the viewer through the shot. They’re like “pointers” which we use to guide out viewers across the image. They can be subtle, like the imagined line of a couple looking into each others eyes, or as blatant as a fence down one side of the photo.
Lets have a look at a few shots where lines have been used….
This is Leeds Museum, a fantastic building itself, but the photo has more to it, the building only takes up 1/3 of the shot. The main feature is really those yellow lines, leading the eye from the bottom left to the building – but there are also a lot of bollards also pointing us towards the building. Two sets of lines for the price of one!
Also, there’s a kind of zig-zag going on here – the line of the roof, the line of the bollard and the yellow lines all interact to take you from side to side in the shot.
In this shot of Leeds Town Hall, we have some lines, but these are not really pointing us at the town hall – rather taking us up from bottom to top. So lines don’t always have to point to the main subject of the shot – they can just add a little extra to the shot.
In this shot we have lots of lines – the road markings again, the kerb, the top of the roof of the building on the left and the rail line top right – all pointing in the same direction. Some call this a “crash point” – a point where lots of lines intersect. You can use these when photographing people, put them in the frame where the crash point occurs and see what happens – it’s pretty cool.
This is a classic “perspective” shot, and again, you have a crash point where the lines all lead to. Don’t you just get drawn into the shot – you hardly notice the Royal Armouries on the left of the shot, the lines are so powerful.
And finally, more street lines and an arrow all taking you from the left of the shot across to the action on the right of the image – the buildings themselves are interesting enough to hold a shot, but a bit of visual guidance from the lines adds a bit extra to the shot… or is it just me who likes those line ?
So next time you’re out with the camera, keep an eye out for lines you can use in your composition – let them lead the viewers eye through the shot in a way you intended.