"Leading lines" are a compositional technique, where a photographer utilizes naturally occurring “lines” within their image’s composition that draw the viewers’ attention to the main subject or emotional conversation within an image.
The line or lines create a natural pathway that the viewers eye will take while wandering through the story or areas of interest in the overall image – all while showing that the photographer used a clean and concise compositional plan and executed the image well.
You can use this compositional tool in many different genres by changing the way you look at the subject, your position towards the scene or subject, your lens or location.
It's also important to keep in mind that lines can be parallel or converge. Both will act on the eye in a slightly different way. Converging lines tend to offer a feeling of distance while parallel lines will create a sense of structure.
A great way to engage with using leading lines in your composition is to take in your scene without your camera up to your eye. Any naturally leading lines will become apparent. Look for roads, street lamps, tree lines, rivers, and waterways. Absorb the scene and once you have found the lines that you want to use, raise the camera to your eye and clean up that composition whilst you are blinkered into that aspect and field of view that your lens is providing.
Use the lines to draw the view through to your main subject or idea. Steps can lead to buildings. Aisles can lead to alters. Don’t forget that contrast can also help to lead where the differences between light and dark create a leading light.
And of course, have fun creating stories using this and other compositional techniques.
David is a technical expert and has worked with Olympus cameras for many years. As well being passionate about educating people about photography and their Olympus products, he has also created a a virtual space for you to #LearnWithOlympus from home. David can be found either in the studio, shooting macro and wildlife, or out at night enjoying some light painting.