Everything You Need to Know About Leading Lines

Hoping to step up your photography game?

You’re already timing your shoots to the Golden Hour and making sure your shots are always well lit. You’ve mastered manual controls on your camera and your phone. You also make sure to incorporate the “rule of thirds” to enhance composition. What’s next?

Here’s the next photography tip you need to master: leading lines.

What are Leading Lines?

Leading Lines in Photography

Leading lines is a composition technique in photography where you use lines in the scene you want to capture to add depth, perspective, or just draw attention to the subject of your photo.

When you look at a photo, the eyes are always drawn to the lines within it. We want to see where they’re going, “leading” the eyes to what the photo wants us to see. It can be a path, a river--anything that has a straight edge can be a leading line in the photograph.

Using Leading Lines

Pick a scene to shoot, there’s bound to be a line. Is there a road? A fence? A horizon? One photography tip is to always look for lines in a shot. Keep practicing taking scenery shots and keeping a mindful eye on lines and it will become second nature.

Here are some tips to make the most out of leading lines:

  • Tip 1: Angle your shot so the line ends with your main subject. This is best used when taking a photo of a distant structure. Find a road leading up to it, taking a shot right from a place in the road so the viewer’s eye is drawn towards the end of it.

    Leading Lines in Photography Leading Lines in Photography

  • Tip 2: To add depth, use a line from the foreground going to the distance. Want to show the vastness of a landscape? Find a fence or a row of trees and take a shot that leads the viewer’s eye from the foreground, drawing their eye to follow the line through the background.

    Leading Lines in Photography Leading Lines in Photography

  • Tip 3: Use horizontal lines to suggest peace and tranquility. Ever wonder why photos of vast horizons are calming? It’s because the clear horizontal lines separating sky, sea, or land, make it look vast yet still and quiet.

    Leading Lines in Photography Leading Lines in Photography

  • Tip 4: Use vertical lines to make a subject in the foreground compelling. Take a shot of a subject in between two lines that start from the foreground going to the distance, like a wedding couple in the middle of the road lined with big trees on either side. It frames the subject of the image, drawing your eye to them.

    Leading Lines in Photography Leading Lines in Photography

  • Tip 5: Use diagonal lines to draw viewers across the entire photo. Want to show off a huge impressive landscape? Find a winding road and include that on your photo. It will encourage the viewer to follow the diagonal line and take in the whole scene

    Leading Lines in Photography Leading Lines in Photography

Another photography tip you can use with leading lines is a bit of post-processing! Run your image through an editing app like Instasize and play around with settings like brightness and contrast to help make the lines in your image pop.

The next time you’re traveling, pay attention to lines in the scene. This composition technique will enhance travel photos, making them more creative and compelling.

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