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Leading Lines-Composition

I never realized how much I LOVE leading lines until I took my last workshop. Using leading lines to draw your viewer’s eye to your subject is a great way to take your photo from just a snap shot to something that makes them stop and admire your work.

If you stop and look around you will see lines everywhere!

Examples of leading lines:
-walk ways
-furniture (when subject is placed on opposite side)

Here are a few photos to help you see the leading lines.

  • August 8, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Thank you. This is so helpful! :) Love these pics too.

  • August 8, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    I love doing this, too!:) thanks for sharing!

  • August 8, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    I’m a little obsessed with leading lines, so thanks for telling me what to call them :-)

  • August 8, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE lines…would love to take a class on photographing them. I feel like it’s a recent discovery and have tons to learn. Great shots! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • August 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    I find the one of the single subject on the stairs the most interesting as the lines don’t come into the frame in the same way as all of the others. I am not sure why I am drawn to that one the most, but there is something about the difference in the lines that is appealing to my eye. Thank you for sharing and drawing attention to how to draw attention :o).

    • August 8, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      Oops, the face was supposed to be this :).

  • August 8, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Great idea!! I think I do this subtly, but I’m going to be more intentional about it!

  • August 9, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    Courtney, you rock at leading lines! Such an inspiration!! I really need to work on this. Thanks for the inspiration as always! :)

  • August 9, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    Love it! I try to do this fairly regularly, but realize I need to work on it consistently for several weeks so that my eye will be better trained to look for it.

    Ahhhhh, so much to learn and practice. LOVE IT!!!

  • August 9, 2011 at 2:47 AM

    I love leading lines too especially from a low POV. You’ve provided some great examples and the arrows help the viewer know just what they’re looking for.

  • August 9, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    Those are seriously fantastic examples!!

  • August 9, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    One of my favorite types of composition :)
    Nicely demonstrated.

  • August 9, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    Great examples! Love the first one, reminds me of constantly checking the mail at Ramstein. :)

  • August 9, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    Great examples Courtney! I love to find the leading lines as well! They really do make a photo stand out! :-D

  • August 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    This is so cool! I never thought about using lines like that before. I love love love that picture of Kate on the couch–beautiful!

  • rachel
    August 9, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Great inspiration :). Can’t wait to use it…..

  • August 9, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    These are all amazing examples of leading lines!! I use them a lot too…one of my favorite ways to compose.


  • August 10, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    This is great! A good reminder on those leading lines, I love lines but seeing some of the multiples makes me rethink a few shots I have… thanks as always!!

  • Michelle
    January 30, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    What are the setting usually for this kind of photo?

    • Courtney
      February 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Which photo were you wondering about??

  • Kira
    January 30, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    Great examples! I love the picture of the girls getting the mail.

    • Courtney
      February 6, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      Thanks! That is one of my favorite pictures of them as well :)

    April 1, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Having a tough time experimenting with leading line… I have a 1.8 lens on a D90. Not sure how to do it, I feel like I am too close…then when I move back, my subject is too far away…HeLp!

    • Courtney
      April 5, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      I’m sorry you are having that issue. The one of my daughter on the see-saw was taken with a D90 and 50mm 1.8. Just keep playing around :)

  • jess
    September 2, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    I feel like “just keep playing around” is not instructive. I have been looking for a ‘how to’ tutorial on leading lines. This post is a good introduction to what they can look like, and you have shown off some great photos. I really need some more instruction on this, but this is a good introduction/overview and now I know what to call them so I can research it further.

  • Angie Juracan
    September 22, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Very helpful post. Thank you! Love your blog

  • March 16, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    I need to work on this! Love your examples!! Especially the bridge and see saw.

  • May 3, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    I’m somewhat new to photography and still learning all the rules. Your posts have been so very helpful including this one. I do have a question tho. I was told by someone I recently met and claimed to be a professor of art and photography at a college to always put my subject to the right as the eye leads left to right. In your examples I found myself following your lines in all cases and only a few were left to right. My eye automatically followed so my question is…is it always the rule and if not, when is it ok to break the rule. Thanks again for all your help to those of us who are still up and coming. I have learned so much from IOU!

    • May 5, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Hey Brenda,
      That is correct. The eye typically travels through the image from top to bottom and left to right. If you noticed all the horizontal images follow the guide of putting the subject on the right hand side. A couple of the vertical ones where the lines start from the bottom and move up is because I wanted to give the sense of height in my photo. I highly suggest taking Sarah Wilkerson’s Elements of Design workshop at Clickin’ Moms. She spends an entire week on the psychology of where to put your subjects in the photo to try to get your viewer to feel something :) – http://www.clickinmoms.com/cmu/archives/listing/shooting-301-elements-of-design

  • May 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Since I wasn’t able to reply to your email I wanted to thank you and this was the on,y way I knew how.

    Thank you so much. I so enjoy your posts and have learned so much from you. I’ve also learned a lot from watching the photos that others post and the critiques given on each. You are such a blessing to those of us who are new to photography. It’s nice to have someone who knows their stuff offer it to others instead of turning up uour nose. Thank you seems so small in words for all you do. I will absolutely checkout Sarah’s workshop. Seems like I’ve been a sponge lately and trying to soak up as much as I can.

    The professor I spoke of is a new acquaintance here in my small town that was a professor at a college in Chicago. Her method has not been what you recommend of sandwiching critiques with good and bad. In fact, at one point I started to put my camera away and never pick it up again her words were so harsh. That’s one reason I appreciate you so much. You know how we new folks feel and you make sure we don’t get stepped one.

    Thank you again for all you are and all you do. You may never know how many lives you’ve touched. I’m sure one day when we all get to heaven, you will be surprised with just how much you’ve done!

    May God continue to bless you greatly,

    • May 8, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      Thank you so much for your sweet words. They meant more to me than you will know. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to write me. I’m sorry to hear that the professor made you feel like you shouldn’t pick up your camera. It breaks my heart when I hear that teachers have discouraged someone instead of encouraged them. Keep doing what you are doing, keep clicking and ignore the negative along the way :) Thanks for making me cry happy tears, Courtney

    • June 3, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      I agree absolutily with Brenda. Thank you Courtney.

  • Nicole Stone
    June 3, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    It seems like such a simple concept, but it was so confusing to me before…your words & examples are amazing. Thank you! I can’t wait to look at my surroundings and give this a shot!

  • June 4, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Wow, these are great examples of leading lines and everyday photos! One thing I need to work on is not insisting that I have the perfect set up for each photo I take. Because of that, I’ve been taking less photos. I’m going to use your photos as inspiration to take more everyday, and INTERESTING, photos. Thanks Courtney!

  • Christie
    August 11, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    I can’t wait to try specific lines now. Thank you

  • Elvis Jackson Etuah
    August 5, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    Hey! These are really beautiful leading lines

  • Elvis Jackson Etuah
    August 5, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    I did not know anything like a leading lines in Photography.

    October 10, 2015 at 10:13 PM

    I think leading lines from a good place are on you. Thank you for your generosity.

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