Lens-Artists Challenge #80 – Leading Lines

Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk.”

Edward Weston



I loved the opening quote by renowned photographer Edward Weston. There are indeed “rules” of photographic composition, which like many other rules, are made to be broken. Whatever their skill level or experience though, understanding and knowing when to use the “rules” of composition can be helpful for any photographer. This week, our challenge will explore a key compositional element, Leading Lines.



“Unlike the painter who starts with a blank canvas and builds up his image by the addition of paint, as photographers we work in the other direction.”

Pete Bridgewood

Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be  helpful for creating depth as well.

beach, sunset, kiawah


“Each picture requires a special composition and every artist treats each picture originally.”

Peter Henry Emerson

There are an infinite number of elements that can serve as leading lines. Nature offers things like the wave above which leads the viewer to the beachwalkers and eventually to the sunset. Grasses and trees can lead the eye across an image…rocks can be especially effective. It’s not so much what you put into your image as it is where you want the viewer’s eye to go and how you get them there.

path, red, umbrella


We don’t take pictures with cameras – we take them with our hearts and minds.”

Arnold Newman

Manmade objects such as roads, paths, fences, bridges, etc all provide opportunities to use leading lines. I remember distinctly how excited I was shooting the image above. Seeing the woman with the red umbrella at the end of a perfect path created one of my favorite captures from our visit to China. It was eventually selected by a travel agency to be featured in their brochure.

Mandarin Duck


There is no better time to crop a bad composition than just before you press the shutter release.

Bryan Peterson

The beautifully-colored Mandarin duck in the image above would draw one’s eye wherever he was standing. But his placement on the dilapidated wooden bridge gave me an opportunity to lead viewers directly to him. I couldn’t have posed him better if I’d tried (OK, maybe if he’d moved just a tiny bit closer to the top 😊).



Photography is the easiest art, which perhaps makes it the hardest.”

Lisette Model

Be creative – there are lines everywhere. Footsteps in the sand, train tracks, the walls of a town on a narrow street, a row of arches on a building or of lights at night, a babbling brook or a winding river – it’s up to you to see and shoot them. Position them to lead the viewer where you want them to go (in the case above, toward the beautiful mountains of Zion or below to the karsts of Guilin). Once you’ve focused on their existence you’ll see them everywhere!

boats heading down river, karsts


Like all photographers, I depend on serendipity… I pray for what might be referred to as the angel of chance.”

Sally Mann

So give us a chance to see some of the leading lines you’ve captured and we’ll follow wherever you lead. Patti, Amy, Ann-Christine and I look forward to seeing your creativity on this one. Remember to link to my original post, and to TAG your post with the “Lens-Artists” Tag. If you’re new to tagging, click here for an explanation of how and why. Remember your post will get more views and comments with tagging! If you’ve not seen our Tag Section yet, click here to see posts that included our tag.

Last week Amy challenged us to share some windows with a view. As always you met the challenge beautifully.


First-time participant Amy of Bedlam and Daisies  took us on an amazing world tour of windows

Tracy from Reflections of an Untidy Mind gave us a frightening look into the ravages of Australia’s wildfires

Laura Denise shared some windows along memory lane and the perspective she’s gained with the passage of time.

As always, we thank you for your support and participation. We hope you’ll join us again next week when Patti publishes Challenge #81 on her Pilotfish blog. We look forward to seeing you then.


Note: For those interested in more detailed information about the how and why of Leading Lines, there’s an interesting article here.


280 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #80 – Leading Lines

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    • So glad you enjoyed the theme Miriam! Yes we were blessed with amazingly clear skies in China. We brought surgical masks but ended up throwing them out. A week after a gorgeous clear few days in Shanghai a friend sent me a photo. The air was so thick with pollution you couldn’t see the buildings! We were just very lucky

      • You’re right about the pollution in China, Tina. In 2008 when China held the Olympics, the government controlled and limited the pollution from the cars and factories for months prior to the event. My photos of the Lee River couldn’t tell from sky and mountains and rover!

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  28. Oh tina – I love the part about how we take photos with our heart and mind and then how “every artist treats each picture originally.”
    and in your post, the umbrella lady and the Great Wall are top takeaways for me

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