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.


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.




In the photo above, the leash forms a curved line going to the subject ot 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. Others in the comments have changed my mind on this, and it should be considered a leading line.

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.



A streetlamp casts a long shadow down an alley in the French Quarter.
The leading line of the lamp post’s shadow adds a sense of depth to this photo.


The lamp post’s shadow takes the viewer into this alley in the French Quarter.


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.



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.


9 thoughts on “Project 52: Leading Lines”

  1. 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.

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