How to Use Lines to Enhance Your Photos

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Composition is the not the only thing to consider in creating visually pleasing photographs. When you break down a photograph to its most basic elements, you will find that it is made up of lines, shapes, forms, textures, patterns and colors. These are called the elements of design. These elements are the building blocks of composition.

Among the six elements, the most basic and powerful is the line. Different lines can provoke different feelings from your viewers so mastery over this topic is essential in controlling the emotional impact of your photo.


Like we discussed in our previous post, leading lines draw your viewer into the photo. It can help highlight the subject of your photo. When two or more lines head towards a common point in the photo then these become converging lines.

CC Photo by Jasmic


This is the most common type of line you will see in nature. Curvilinear lines are seen to be gentle and relaxing. When including curvilinear lines in your photo, try to frame it in such a way that it creates an “S” curve. The “S” curve is one of the most pleasing shapes in the visual arts.


Horizontal lines are seen as stable and static. Unbroken horizontal lines tend to give the feeling of dullness. On landscape photography, this is the most dominant line because of the horizon.

CC Photo by Michale


Vertical lines evoke a feeling of strength, power and dominance. Tall and powerful objects are often photographed in portrait orientation to maximize the vertical lines in photo.

CC Photo by Mugley


Diagonal lines give a sense of movement, speed and activity. Some photographers deliberately tilt their cameras to one side to make horizontal or static lines into diagonals to breathe a sense of action in an otherwise boring scene. In the photo below, the photographer tilted the camera to make the horizon into a diagonal. By doing, the sensation of speed was greatly exaggerated.

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