Line in photography

Line in photography is one of the most important element. It is a subtle element which requires a careful placement in a photograph. It has a very strong impact as it is the element, which leads the eye to main point of interest. Line is a suggestion of motion and direction. Lines in a photograph can be straight, curved, vertical, horizontal or zigzag and may go out of the frame to convey the story of endless atmosphere.



Photograph by: Anwarali Kapasi

Horizontal line conveys tranquility and rest, as our brain perceives it as a calm horizon. However, placement of this line makes lots of difference in the final appeal. Follow the rule of thirds for positioning a horizontal line. Never place it in the centre of a photograph, as it will divide the frame in a nasty manner. When representing it as a horizon, either keep it at perfect level or tilt more than ten degrees, but in such case, the property of this line will change to diagonal or oblique line. Slight tilt will look like a fault of the photographer, who has failed to handle the camera straight.

However, it is very difficult to hold a camera straight, especially when we are shooting without a camera stand. In such case, keep the composition a bit loose so that we can re-compose and make the horizon straight while editing the image in photo-editing software.



Vertical line conveys power and strength. We never see a strong straight vertical line in nature. Even when water is falling, it falls at an angle because of wind. Therefore we take it as a surprise.

Oblique line is the suggestion of motion and action, as we see this line while travelling, in form of road. However, curved line like 'c' and 's' gives calm and sensual feelings, and when used properly, it is the strongest element in a photograph.



In different genre of photography, line has its own role to play. This element will hardly be required in child photography, where element of form is much important. Up to certain extent, same thing apply on portrait and fashion photography. Whereas in architectural, landscape and industrial photography, element of line plays a very important role.

Line in photography is an element, which enhance the perspective. Converging lines suggest the vanishing point of the image and conveys the depth in a photograph.

Learn more about:

Color in photography

Contrast in photography

Form in photography

Line in photography

Negative space

Pattern in photography

Perspective in photography

Positive space

Shadow in photography

Shape in photography

Size in photography

Texture in photography

Tone in photography



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