When you’re looking for a way to capture a strong image highlighting your subject in a natural way, using leading lines will do just the trick. Leading lines are a composition trick photographers use while shooting to frame their subject, using their surroundings. Photos using this form of composition can be achieved by using many different techniques, but here are just a few leading lines photography tips to get you started on the road to incorporating leading lines into your images.

1. Establish Your Subject

Photo: Hernán Piñera.

To compose a strong image using these leading lines photography tips, you must first assign your image a definite subject. You will be using your leading lines to help draw attention this subject, and capture a sense of direction. You want your lines to lead up to your subject, giving your viewer a visual payoff.

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Your subject could vary depending on your location but you may look for things that will interest your viewers such as a human, building, flower, or animal. Images that have strong leading lines with no subject at the end won’t have a visual payoff and as result, the image won’t be as strong or visually interesting.

2. Get into Position

Photo: Pexels

Once you find your subject, you may not be able to find any leading lines following directly to your subject from where you are standing. If you can’t find any lines, walk around the perimeter of your location looking for natural lines such as logs, rivers, stones, and so forth. If you can move your subject, take them with you to a new location that will provide you with these natural lines.

3. Play with Shadows and Light

Photo: 500px ISO.

If you are having trouble finding physical lines that will lead to your subject, look for any shadows that may fall into the picture. Leading lines do not always have to be a physical object, as shadows can provide an interesting way to direct your image.

On the flip side, you can also bring streaks of light into your image as leading lines. For example, taillights on a car captured at a slow shutter speed will create streaks of light, which is a great way to make use of light as a form of leading lines.

4. Look in Nature

Photo: Arturo Donate.

If you’re shooting a subject you can move around such as a model or product and need some location inspiration, nature will be your best friend. The outdoors has many leading lines for photographers who take the opportunity to look for them.

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Some common forms of leading lines that you can find in nature are patterns found on the ground such as dirt, sand, and grass. Dense groups of trees can be used as strong vertical lines and can be used to separate your subject from the image in a unique way.

5. Urban Inspiration

For those who may be looking for some leading lines photography tips inspired by a more urban look, do not worry as the city has many man-made lines to offer. Using roads, buildings, and rows of streetlights can work together to create just as powerful of an image as one created in nature. The city can be used in lots of ways to pull your viewer right into the city that you are shooting.

6. Trust Your Instincts

Photo: Giuseppe Milo.

Sometimes it may be hard to find lines that may lead up to the perfect subject. When this happens, put your camera down, relax your eyes, and look back up at your subject. As you look to your subject, take a mental note of the trail your eyes followed before reaching your endpoint. Using this trick will help you find lines you may have overlooked otherwise.

7. Look through Your Camera

Photo: O Palsson

Another way to find lines you may have missed during your usual location scouting is to survey your location directly through your camera. You can learn more about how your camera views the location differently by looking through your viewfinder or by using the live view feature on your camera. Using this technique may allow you to find leading lines you overlooked.

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8. Create Your Own Lines

Photo: iStock.

If all else fails and you can not find any lines to lead viewers to your subject, feel free to create lines of your own. This is something you can get creative with depending on your location, however, there are a quick few ways to bring lines into your picture. For example, you can make some leading lines by drawing in the sand, lining up rocks, or placing flowers in a way to lead to your subject.

9. Change Perspective

leading lines photography

Photo: Paško Tomi?.

Once you’ve lined up your shot and got everything planned, take a few photos and access them. If the lines aren’t as impactful as you would like, you may need to change your camera’s perspective by kneeling or climbing higher. Bringing your lens closer to where your leading lines start will pull your viewers into the image.

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10. Rely on Post-processing

When you’ve finished your photoshoot and gotten the perfect image, you may want to dump it on your computer back home for some final touch-ups. You can enhance the strength of your leading lines in post-processing by using tools to heighten the contrast between your location and your lines.

You may want to bring the lightness of your lines up a bit to make them pop, and bring the rest of the location into shadows to avoid distractions. Do this by using a simple S-curve, or by dodging and burning areas for a more custom look.

Summing Up

With a bit of practice and determination, using these leading lines photography tips will become a useful tool in your photography to create powerful images. Getting this technique down will help bring your images to life by allowing your audience to feel as though they are inside of the picture. It may take a bit of trial and error, but once you have mastered these leading lines photography tips, your images will truly come to life!

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