There are many compositional elements a photographer needs to think about; perhaps one of the most important is to determine where to position lead-in lines within the frame. Lead-in lines are all around us and our role as photographers is to spot and use them creatively in our photos. Our eyes are naturally drawn to lines in an image; with some careful consideration of where you place these compositional lines, you can attract the viewer’s attention and pave the way for the eye to naturally move in and around the scene. Sounds simple but correct placement of these lines is vital. They need to be leading in the direction of your main subject. Failure to do this will result in their eye leaving the scene and impact will be lost.

Lead-in lines

  1. When scouting a location, take note of the natural and man-made lines. Whether it’s a footpath, stream or hedgerow, it should take you somewhere. Do you want it to guide you through the scene or draw attention to a focal point?
  2. Leading into the scene from foreground to background creates depth and perspective. Make use of converging verticals (multiple lines) that lead to a vanishing point to create
    a sense of infinity.
  3. Your position and the focal length of your lens will have an impact on how successful your placement of lead-in lines will be. Shoot from a low angle with a wide focal length to exaggerate
    the perspective.
  4. Lead-in lines don’t need to be perfectly straight. An ‘S’ curve is a popular concept and can typically be seen in drawings and paintings. Natural curves from rivers and streams can create an S-shaped curve.