Line 'em Up and Give Some Direction


And we begin with Lines. Lines have length and breadth and importantly – direction.

Ars Magna | Visual Thinking | Episode 2 - Line from Ars Magna Studio on Vimeo.

Once you start to look for them, they are everywhere. Our eyes want to follow them. When shooting, and when designing albums, I try to use this to my advantage; leading viewer’s eye to where I want it to go, keeping it inside the frame or the page spread. I try to take a slower approach to think about what I am seeing, not just what I am looking at.

There are outlines, contour lines, and implied lines - these are lines that are created by how we see a grouping of objects from our viewpoint.  An implied directional line can exist in a series of objects within the frame or in the direction at which a person is looking or pointing.

In this example from Nicki Pardo, napkins tied together create a curving line that functions in two ways; partially framing the main subjects in the mid-ground and leading our eye from the left foreground (hand holding the end of the napkins at the frame edge) through the dance floor to the spectators in the background.

Generally, images with a lot of diagonal lines have a chaotic energy and images that show perpendicular lines give a sense of stability. In this engagement portrait, Simi Rabinowitz has used lines to create a sense of stability, not only with the repetition of strong vertical lines in the fence but also in the postures of the subjects which echo this fortitude.  The diagonal line leads us into the couple themselves, breaking up the verticals just enough to keep the image from being too rigid.

What kinds of objects comprise a line when we look through the frame? Have you effectively used lines to lead the viewers eye where you toward your intended subject(s) or where you want the eye to go?

The Visual Thinker is Boston Wedding and Portrait Photographer Allana Taranto of Ars Magna Studio who directs her eyes too much at television, and most of the time it is quite trashy.