Blog Family and Children Photography | Maureen Stuart Photography

leading lines...

Compositional techniques are techniques which assist us in directing our viewer’s attention to the most important elements of our image.  One of the techniques I often use in my outdoor family photography is to use leading lines to guide the viewer to the people in the photo. 

The path creates a strong leading line to the family.

I look for lines created by man-made or natural elements; walls, paths, fences, buildings, streams, bridges, trees and rocks can all be used to form leading lines.  Sometimes the lines are obvious like those created by the bridge below and sometimes the lines may be more subtle, such as those created by a difference in texture or colour like a line created by a wave on a beach.

A number of leading lines from the bridge point towards the subject.

In fact once you start looking you will find potential leading lines all around you.  The trick then is to position your subject appropriately.  Leading lines often work best when they start from the bottom edge of the image and work up towards the subject of the photograph.  If your leading line starts from one side of your image it is generally best if it starts from the left and leads towards your subject on the right, as our eyes tend to read images the way we read text.

An example of a leading line which starts from the side edge of the image.

Practising leading lines is so easy.  Before you press the shutter just take the time to see if there are any lines in your surroundings which could be used as leading lines.  Then consider the relative positioning of your subject and the lines and adjust your position or your subject's to make best use of the lines.  Of course, if like me, you take photographs of children you will need to do all this at high speed!  The last photo in this set was taken with an iPhone so all you need to practise is your phone. 

Feel free to share with anyone you know who is interested in photography. 

The shoreline and wave create leading lines to the silhouetted group.