The Art of Photography | Lines

A few months ago, I introduced a new series called The Art of Photography. If you haven't read that post yet, go ahead and take a second to do so, because it will be the foundation for everything we talk about in the coming months.

With that said, have you ever been in a situation where you photograph the exact same thing as someone else, yet your photographs look completely different? And as you compare the two images, you wonder, why didn't I see that!?
While we all have our own style and unique way that we see the world, the answer to that question usually comes down to a good understanding of the elements of art and the principals of design. When you understand these elements, you’re able to make more intentional decisions about why you’re creating the images you are, and later, you’re able to analyze these images to better understand your unique style and voice. This will allow you to intentionally create images that are in line with your style instead of shooting randomly and hoping for the best.

Today we're going to chat about the first element of art - lines. There are several different types of lines, and they do more than look a certain way - they cause your viewer to do and to feel something. They cause emotion and elicit a response. Let's take a look at a couple different types of lines and how they effect the images bellow. 

Vertical Lines

Vertical lines are strong compositional elements. They draw your eye up and tend to give the viewer a sense of height, solidity, and power. 

Horizontal Lines

Horizontal lines have a completely different impact. They create a feeling of stable rest and harmony, allowing the viewer to feel calm and peaceful. Horizontal lines also give a sense of space and imply continuation. These types of lines are typically hard to avoid when shooting a wide landscape, so it's important to think about how the horizon line will impact your image as you frame your composition. 

Combination of Horizontal and Vertical Lines

A combination of straight horizontal and vertical lines create a grid within your image. This combination of lines create order and communicates permanence, stability, and reliability. When combined in a balanced way, this type of composition is very visually appealing and creates the sense that everything is in order and exactly as it should be. 

Diagonal Lines

Diagonal lines convey feelings of energy, movement, action, and even instability. In this image, the diagonal lines of the rock face in the background contribute to the sense of movement within the bride's arm motions and the flowing material of her dress. It is important to realize how diagonal lines affect an image, because it is easy to unintentionally create this type of line. For example, if you shoot an image with a horizon line that is at an angle, you've created a diagonal line that can cause your image to feel unstable or unbalanced. If that's the type of feel you're going for, that's fantastic, but it's important to realize the impact this type of line has on your image!

Organic, Curved Lines

Organic lines are any lines that have a curved, natural feel to them. They come in a variety of shapes and will often show up in your images as you shoot outside and take advantage of nature. Organic shapes can be complex and beautiful, and there is honestly a lot that could be said about them, since they come in so many varieties! However, these types of lines tend to convey a sense of energy, fluidity, and togetherness.

Leading Lines

Finally, let's chat for a second about leading lines. While it's important to recognize the types of lines within your image, it may still feel difficult to understand how to manipulate this information to have a greater impact on your imagery. One of the easiest ways to do this is through leading lines. These are lines that your eyes naturally follow and that lead the viewer directly to the subject of your image. In this example above, the leading lines are the boards of the dock that this couple is sitting on. These lines immediately catch your attention and draw your eyes up to the subject of the image. Leading lines can be obvious or subtle, but I encourage you to think about you can apply this principal during your next shoot!

Happy Friday!