Project 52: Leading Lines

Sorry about the absence last week. I was out of town for the Easter holiday. Let’s get back to it!


This week’s topic is another that falls under the umbrella of composition.

As I have mentioned before, the composition of a photograph is the photographer’s way of leading the viewer’s eye through the photo. Since photography is a visual art form, composition is how the photographer “narrates” the story told by the photograph.

One of the most commonly used composition techniques is the use of leading lines.

Leading Lines … and Curves, too!

Like many of the rules of composition, leading lines is somewhat of a misnomer (even “rules” of composition is a misnomer; they’re more like guidelines). Leading lines doesn’t only include lines, but it can include curves as well, as you’ll see in a minute.

A leading line is any straight or curved line that leads to the main subject of the image.

Sometimes, the line can be the subjects as well, as in this photo of baseball players.

Teams lined up along the outfield walls of two different fields while waiting for ceremonies to begin.
Here, both the outfield wall and the children form leading lines


The children are lined up along the outfield wall, and the line of children leads from the one child to the next, from foreground to background.

Not All Lines are Leading Lines

Now, don’t get me wrong and think that any line that leads to the subject qualifies as a leading line. That’s not true at all.

Knox sits in a field.
Normally, I wouldn’t show a photo with the leash still in it, but the leash makes a good example of a leading line.

In the photo above, the leash forms a curved line going to the subject of the photo, Knox. I’ve never seen this said about leading lines, but I think they have to have sufficient visual weight to lead the eye to the subject.

There are many ways an object in a photograph can be given weight. Some of those ways are color, contrast, number, and size.

In the photo of Knox sitting, the leash is small compared to him. It’s size gives it less weight than Knox himself has in the photo. So, in my mind, it’s not a leading line. (Seeing other examples this week from the other photographers in the Project has changed my opinion.)

That’s Deep, Man

One of the problems photographers face is presenting a three-dimensional world in a two dimensional medium. Leading lines can help give a sense of depth to photographs.



The leading line gives a sense of depth
The leading line of the lamp post’s shadow adds a sense of depth to this photo.
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Half-marathon runners pass by Hattiesburg Clinic.
The double center lines stretching into the distance gives you a sense of the length of the race course.
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The Blog Circle

Next up is Elaine Tweedy of I Got The Shot Photography, serving Northeastern PA and surrounding areas. Check out their work, and follow the link at the end of their post to the next photographer. Rinse and repeat until you wind up here again.


Nice variety of leading line examples. Love the black and white – of course, the dog is cute too and the red leash definitely works!

The photo of the runners is a great example of leading lines. My starts at the front and follows down the road.

Thanks! I’m actually photographing that same race this morning.

Great post. I love your explanation, very deep! 😉

I would argue that your leash is a leading line if left in the photo. I have really read so much material on leading lines, and there are so many options beyond the traditional. Loved the baseball boys example.

After reviewing all the other examples in the blog circle, I have changed my mind and agree with you.

Kelly Middlebrooks

I think you’ve got this leading lines thing down!

I love that shot in the French Quarter. Nicely done!

Great leading lines!

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