A Primer for Effectively Using Leading Lines in Photography

Eric Kim recently posted a great primer on leading lines on his YouTube Channel. If you’re new to photography, this is a perfect video to learn more about the compositional technique; when used properly, leading lines can help guide viewers’ eyes to the subject of your photograph. As an aesthetic tool, leading lines can help add drama or humor to your compositions. In the video below, Kim provides some practical tips on how to effectively use leading lines and how he’s incorporated the technique in his street photography.

In a nutshell, Kim summarizes his tips as follows:

  1. Look at the background
  2. Shoot vertical
  3. Wait
  4. Look for arrows
  5. Crouch down
  6. Direct your subject
  7. Work the scene

The biggest of these in our opinion have to do with the backgrounds, arrows, and directing your subjects. Depending on the way you look at images on the web due to your scrolling habits, this can also have a big effect due to how your mind processes the images. When images are printed, your mind processes the photo in a different way. Combining these rules along with the rule of thirds or the Golden Spiral can help a lot in leading your subject’s eyes. Then also consider using positive and negative space.

Though at face value these seem like common sense tips, it’s often a return to the fundamentals that yield the best results. It’s easy for even the most accomplished photographers to forget these rules. Whether you’re brand new to the world of photography or have been shooting for years, taking the time to understand some basic compositional techniques, like using leading lines for greater effect, always improve our capability and creativity. Kim’s practical approach to leading lines in his street photography is a must watch for new photographers and the more experienced ones among us as well.