11 Ways To Skyrocket Your Street Photography Composition With Lines

 
Zig Zag by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

Zig Zag by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

One great way to spice up your street photography is the use of lines and leading lines. There are many ways they can improve your composition:

* Lead your viewer to your subject

* Lead away to from your subject to indicate a sense of direction

* Add yet another aspect to make the scenery more exciting

 

IMprove your sense for leading lines

In order to get a better feeling for lines, you need to sharpen your senses. I'd suggest to dedicate your next photo walk to finding and observing lines.

Simply walk around and take a look at all sorts of lines you can find:

Handrails

Stripes

Streets

Footprints

Alleys

There are countless lines out there - you just need to develop an eye for them. In order to make it easier for you, I have 11 powerful examples for you today:

 

1. Lead the viewer to your subjects with a curved line from the bottom of the frame

Untitled by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

Untitled by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

Leading lines really help to show your viewer where to look in your street photo. In the example above, the path in the park leads directly to the two women. 

Even though you discover the women right away due to the strong natural contrasts, the lines really improve the composition.

 

2. Turn the lines into the highlight of the photo

Ribbon by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

Ribbon by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

Usually leading lines just help to discover something vital. However, if you spot a really great line, make it the highlight of your street photo.

In the street photo above, I discovered the reflection on the walls. I reframed the shot till the line on the ground, the reflection on the wall and the handrails aligned: Voila!

 

3. SPlit your photo with the lines

Untitled by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

Untitled by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

The street photo above really benefits from all the lines. The strongest line is the one on the escalator. It goes from the top right corner to the bottom left.

If a lines comes from a corner, it always feels harmonic. If you manage to capture it from corner to corner, you hit the jackpot of buddhist harmony for your viewers.

 

4. Capture an extreme line from top to bottom

Downtown Abyss by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

Downtown Abyss by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

To be honest, this is one of the most extreme lines I've ever captured. It goes from the top of the frame to the bottom...and it even indicates the direction of our subject.

Once your eyes have had enough from the one major line, they will start looking at the ones on the left. All these lines keep your street photo exciting for your viewers!

 

5. Guide and Confuse your viewers with a unique composition

Untitled by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

Untitled by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

This classical example of leading your viewers to your subject through lines feels fresher. It's really hard to tell whether the escalator goes up or down.

I held the camera in a way that the handrails of the escalator go up although it actually goes down.

 

6. Use footPrints as leading lines

Invincible by Vijce | Thuine, 2015

Invincible by Vijce | Thuine, 2015

Who says leading lines literally have to be lines?

For this photo, I used the footprints of the subject as yet another leading line. Although the guarding rails are the major leading lines, the subtle footprints really add to the moment.

 

7. Let as many lines as possible lead to your subject

Kubrick II by Vijce | Seoul, 2013

Kubrick II by Vijce | Seoul, 2013

You want your subject to stand out? Let as many lines as possible lead to your subject. In this case, there are more than 10-20 lines going to the middle of the frame.

This works especially well with reflections and central subjects.

 

8. Use dots as leading lines...and Split the Frame...and add more line to mix it up

Dots & Lines by Vijce | Canberra, 2014

Dots & Lines by Vijce | Canberra, 2014

This street photo has a very powerful composition in terms of leading lines:

1) The dots lead away from the subject and indicate the direction

2) The middle one splits the frame

3) The one from the bottom right corner splits the bottom half and leads to the subject.

 

9. Capture multiple lines that lead away from the subject

Concrete Sunshine by Vijce | Perth, 2014

Concrete Sunshine by Vijce | Perth, 2014

Who says leading lines have to lead to the subject? This is a perfect example where the lines add to the moment, but function as their own element.

I stumbled upon these lines in a parking garage back then. You can also use a cross walk to create that effect though. I increased the saturation in post-processing.

 

10. Use lines to lead the subject to the viewer

Chrome by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

Chrome by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

When I discovered these stairs, I couldn't wait till someone finally showed up. After 30 minutes of waiting, this fine gentleman appeared.

As the viewer, you probably start at the bottom left and make your way up the stairs to the top right - or vice versa. The strong leading line of the stairway helps tremendously in this case.

 

11. Split the frame from top to bottom with a central line

Parrallel Universe by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

Parrallel Universe by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2016

This central line gives the whole photo a surreal touch! I leaned against the shop window, which turned it into a big mirror. The line in the middle separates the two "frames".


As you can see, there are countless ways to improve your street photography composition with lines. If you want to start getting a feel for them, take your phone with you and look for these compositions in your town. That way, you will sharpen your senses for them!

Good luck on your next photo walk and make sure to share your results with EHS!