Leading Lines in Photography

What are the Leading Lines in Photography Composition

The leading lines are an essential part of one specific rule in photography composition. It consists of lines that will guide the eye of the viewer to induce one specific feel, emotion or effect to the photo. 

The rule of the leading lines is a great one to add on top of the rule of thirds. These two rules can be integrated without any problems. 

What is the Purpose of Leading Lines

Leading lines in photography have a specific purpose. The leading lines influence the photo in at least three major ways:

  • Movement
  • Depth 
  • Drawing attention

We will have a look at each of them.


The first effect leading lines help achieve is the effect of movement. Here is one photo that achieves just that. 

leading lines show movement

Even though the photo is a still frame, the way the people are positioned in a (leading) line gives a strong impression of movement. This photo makes use of the direction in which the men are moving. 


Another effect that the leading lines are that it creates depth. Have a look at this photo. 

leading lines show depth

The lines in the grass are creating an effect of depth and distance. The building seems far away. Here’s how it would have looked without using the leading lines rule. 

Even though it looks to be away, it doesn’t have the send of depth the other photo has. 

Drawing Attention

Leading lines in stairs

In this example, whether you like or not, the stairs are leading up to the subject – just like they do in real life. The lines formed by the stairs will draw the eye of the viewer to the focal point of the photo. 

How to Use Leading Line in Photography

Let’s have a look at different ways and examples of using leading lines in different styles of photography. 

Leading Lines in Landscape Photography

landscape leading lines

Here is a great example of the use of leading lines. In this photo, the leading line is the road which leads our eye up to the two people are walking, and further, up to the mountains. 

The viewer’s eye will start looking at the picture at the bottom of the image and will finish up, in the mountains.

Leading Lines in Portrait Photography

portrait photography leading lines

Here’s another stair example. Both the stairs and the ceiling are leading up and down to the human subject. 

Depending on the environment you are in, it can be a bit tricky to do this. You’ll have to use either nature or the city to your creative advantage. 

Leading Lines in Food Photography

food photography leadign lines.

Food photography is another great area where you can utilize leading lines. See in this picture how the grills and the cook’s utensils are forming some lines that draw the attention. 

The bottom line

The leading lines rule of composition is one that will help you achieve more interesting photos. If you are wondering why your photos aren’t great, this may be one answer. Try applying some rules of composition, like the leading lines, and see how your photos are getting better and better. 

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