How To Use Lines In Photography Composition

A powerful way to improve and effectively compose my photo’s whilst shooting is by simply using lines. If used correctly I can significantly increase the impact of my images. Lines affect photographic composition in two ways:

  1. To create a mood / an emotion.
  2. They lead the eye through the photograph

Affecting the mood or adding emotional content to the images will more likely stick to the minds of whoever’s viewing the photo, sticking more to their memory. Which a successful photographer always wants.

Leading the viewer’s eye using lines keeps the viewer’s attention focused on the image for longer. This is perfect for advertising and marketing to lure the audience in and make them feel engaged.

Captured by Stuart Hughes
Captured by Stuart Hughes
Captured by Coy Aune
Captured by Coy Aune


“Leading Lines” can be broken into the following:

  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • Diagonal

Horizontal lines – are stable and relaxed. They can serve to provide a contrast with more dynamic parts of an image. Examples can be found in buildings and horizons etc.

Vertical lines – imbue height and strength, especially when the photo is in portrait. They can project either a mood of stability or peace. If the mood projected is stability, it will function similarly to horizontal lines that conveys an implication of substance or permanence. Examples of vertical lines can be found in rock formations, power line poles and vertical lines of buildings.

Diagonal lines – give strength and emphasis. You use them to guide the viewers eye to the main subject. It provides a sense of depth perspective. It can give the photo a sense of action sometimes or make an image more dynamic. Diagonal lines are a very powerful tool if used correctly. Their power resides in their ability to grab the attention of the viewer; the viewer’s eye tend to travel back and forth along diagonals. Examples of diagonal lines can be found not only of objects such as trees and pavements, however colour as well. For instance, a diagonal section of colour can add drama to an image of a flower. There are plenty of diagonal examples: roads, streams, waves and branches.


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