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Leading Lines in Photography – How to Use, Examples, Ideas

If you’re looking to capture gorgeous landscape photos-or gorgeous photos of any kind, really-you have to understand leading lines in photography.

Leading Lines in Photography

You see, leading lines are a fundamental element of photographic composition. Landscape photographers, travel photographers, street photographers, and more use leading lines to great effect.

So if you’re looking to improve your own photos…

…you, too, must master leading lines.

Fortunately, it’s not that hard. Leading lines may be important, but they’re also very simple.

Which is why, by the time you’ve finished this article, you’ll be a leading lines expert, capable of including leading lines in your photography at any time.

What Are Leading Lines in Photography?

First things first:

What actually are leading lines?

Leading lines refer to any lines that lead the eye into the scene, ideally taking the viewer from the edges of the frame toward the main subject.

Colorado River serves as a leading line

So your scene might have a river running toward a mountain, in which case the river acts as a leading line, drawing the viewer up from the bottom of the frame and guiding them to the mountain.

Or your scene might have a fallen tree pointing toward the sunrise, in which case the fallen tree acts as a leading line, pushing the viewer through the scene and to the golden sun.

Now, note that leading lines can be pretty much anything, as long as they’re lines and as long as they lead. So don’t feel like certain elements are off limits; if they’re lines that lead the viewer’s eye, then feel free to incorporate them as leading lines!

By the way, you might be wondering:

Why are leading lines so helpful? What’s so great about them?

Well, photographers love leading lines for two reasons:

First, leading lines help establish visual flow in an image, moving the viewer through the main composition elements toward the subject of the photo (which is often, but not always, in the background).

The converging lines lead us into the main attraction of the scene, Monument Valley.

Second, leading lines add the illusion of depth to a photo, making the viewer feel like they could simply step into the scene.

How to Find Leading Lines

Leading lines are very powerful-and they’re quite easy to find. In fact, you can find them when shooting most subjects, as long as you look hard enough.

And remember:

Leading lines can be natural or artificial, so make sure you look for both types.

Natural Leading Lines

Here are some common natural leading lines to look for in a scene:

  • Rivers
  • Streams
  • Rows of trees
  • Fallen logs
  • Bent flowers
  • Lines in the sand
  • Pointed rocks
  • Cracks in the ground

Artificial Leading Lines

And here are some common artificial leading lines to look for in a scene:

  • Roads
  • Rows of buildings
  • Rows of posts
  • Bricks
  • Boardwalks
  • Bridges
  • Curbs
  • Road paint

Types of Leading Lines

When you’re photographing a scene, it’s important to remember that there are many types of leading lines worth incorporating.

For instance, you have can use:

Horizontal Lines

These run across the image horizontally, from side to side. Horizons are a common example, as they lead the eye through the frame toward the subject.

Multiple horizontal lines
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