Drawing the Viewer in with Leading Lines

Leading lines are probably one of the most basic composition techniques in any genre of photography. In terms of architecture, this is easier to come by in mid-range and cityscape shots. Though not impossible for abstracts, it is a bit more challenging.

One of the best subjects for leading lines is the spiral staircase. Simply place the railing or stairs in the corner of the frame and those beautiful curves pull the viewer through the image.

pantheon, paris

Even in a more geometric angular staircase, center your subject and your eye is automatically pulled through the frame.

national gallery of art dc, i.m. pei

Straight lines, whether direct and head-on or at a diagonal, both work to draw the viewer in.

institut du monde arabe paris

Positioning yourself and the camera so the lines are straight in front of you create a more balanced effect, whereas the diagonal lines create more tension in your image. Also, note that the lines don’t have to be the actual architecture. Below you see the shadows of the structure are what actually draws you in.

milwaukee art museum, santiago calatrava

For more abstract images, using symmetry and placing lines in the corners of your frame help in creating those leading lines.

milwaukee art museum, santiago calatrava

In this cityscape of downtown LA, both the diagonal lines of the bridges and the light trails act as leading lines.

los angeles

Curves also make for great leading lines. Again, placing an element of the architecture in the corner of your frame immediately offers a starting point to enter the frame and draws the viewer in and through your image.

trump tower chicago, sompetersen museum, kohn pedersen foxsan francisco

Hopefully, this gave you a few new ideas on how to utilize leading lines in your architectural images. Be sure to share some of your favorites with us on Facebook & Instagram.



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