Camera Talk: Leading Lines

Ladies and Gentlemen, the answer to the $64,000 question is:
This is a Leading Line. It has nothing to do with photography but, if it got you to look a little closer at my Camera Talk today, it worked. It’s a little trick you can use in your photographic technique, too.

While you’re composing a shot:
Mike-Lynch-leading-lines-aLook around and find some lines to draw attention to your subject. They don’t even have to be straight lines. Anything in the scene that can be captured and lead the viewer’s eye from the corner of the frame towards the subject is fair game. Sometimes it’s a curved or crooked line, like a branch, the shoreline, a curve in the road or, the paint on a basketball court.

Some examples of straight lines used in pointing towards a subject are handrails, railroad tracks, the roof of a house, edge of a sidewalk, even the crease in someone’s shirtsleeve. The diagonal line of the sail on a boat, a tent or the white lines painted in a parking lot can be used to point from a corner of your photo to the subject. The lines don’t even have to reach all the way to the corner, just use them to help the subject say, “I’m over here. Look at me”!
Use it to your advantage.

Mike-Lynch-leading-lines-bEvery scene doesn’t require leading lines. You wouldn’t want to use something that will overwhelm your subject. Something as bright as the international orange of a traffic cone, probably wouldn’t work well as a leading line for a fair-skinned lady; unless it’s the traffic cone you want to draw attention to. Look around and if you do find something that compliments the photo compose it into your photo. In your travel photos, give Leading Lines a try. You’ll start noticing a depth to your pictures which makes you feel you could walk right back into the scene. If there are no such lines available, don’t worry, you’ve always got the Rule of Thirds as a back-up. You may end up taking a $64,000 photo. Until next time, Happy Shooting!

mikelynch200A wildlife photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, Brave New Traveler, Go Nomad, Matador Abroad and Trips, The Nihon Sun, Travel Thru History, The Okinawan , Wend Magazine and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.

Author: Michael Lynch

A wildlife photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been featured in Matador Abroad and is published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, The Nihon Sun and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.

Share This Post On


  1. Interesting topic and well explained using good examples. So which one of these is the $64,000 photo ?

    Post a Reply
  2. Sumitran, my friend, you could probably negotiate a deal and pick up both photos for less than 1/10th that price.
    On the other hand, just hit PRINT and get them free!


    Post a Reply
  3. Interesting advice, Mike. I did not know this. Thanks for the education.

    Post a Reply
  4. Sabina,
    Glad to be sharing these little tricks with travelers like you. Anything you can do to make your photos stand-out above the rest will give you the edge over the rest of the travel writers. I see travel brochures, all the time, that are well written but, the photos make me wonder if I really want to go there.
    When I see a great picture of a place along with a mouthwatering write up, I start researching what it’d take for me to go there.
    That’s why Arby’s Roast Beef and Pizza Hut don’t use B&W photos in their ads !

    Post a Reply
  5. Good advice. And good photos, esp. like the top one. Great to get advice that are useful with a little, uncomplicated point-and-shoot cameras as well.

    Post a Reply
  6. Sophie,
    Thank you. I’m guessing that better than 90% of the travelers coming here for tips on shooting are using point and shoots.
    In fact, probably rather than buying a new lens this year, I’ll buy a point and shoot. Not only will it help me demonstrate tips you can use, it’ll give me a way to sneak shots at some events where a big camera isn’t welcome !

    Post a Reply
  7. Interesting stuff. Simple to introduce but seems to make all the difference to the shot. Thanks for the help

    Post a Reply
  8. Matt,
    Yup, it’s the little tricks that get you over, sometimes. It’s just hard to visualize, most of the time on an LCD screen. Another thing I didn’t mention, is practice, most cameras see more than you do as you’re composing. So, even with a tripod, when you’re seeing a distinct line cutting the corner at a perfect 45 degree angle, it may miss that corner when you see it afterwards on a monitor. Just, takes some guesstimating.

    Post a Reply
  9. Great tips as usual, Mike – even a camera idiot like myself can follow along, so thanks!

    Post a Reply
  10. Nick,
    I’ve seen some great travel photos made by you. Sure you ain’t a semi-pro, just foolin; with me?


    Post a Reply
  11. This really is a helpful tip, Mike.

    I think even being aware of leading lines helps me see subjects and possible subjects in new ways, which is inspiring really. The idea opens up new dimensions to what is interesting visually and gives me something else to see in my lens. Now if I could just keep the damn thing in focus.

    Post a Reply
  12. Devin,
    Thanks. As the eyes grow older, I find myself using Auto Focus much more than I did in my younger days. Modern technology on these newer cameras is pretty unbeatable unless you’re doing some real close macro shots. Then you may be forced to go fully Manual in order to sharpen a particular spot in the frame.


    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Are you ready to Travel for Free?

Do you want to know how I have traveled to over 50 countries for Free?


Join our community and get my new ebook about how to travel for free just like the pros!

You have successfully subscribed! Check your email for your ebook.