Leading Lines to Strengthen An Otherwise Boring Subject


Leading lines_4x5

As a commercial photographer, my assignments vary from day-to-day. Sometimes my subject matter is stunningly beautiful and other times it is mundane or rather uninteresting.

What I have to think about on the days when my job is to photograph the mundane is how I can create the most interesting imagery, given the subject matter? In addition to that, how can I do it at the time of day my client wants them done (as opposed to the time of day that would be better for interesting light)? How can I make engaging photos of boring subject matter?

One way, is with the use of leading lines. Any time there is an element within a composition placed in a receding direction, it directs the viewer by visually pulling them into the photo. It doesn’t have to actually be a line. Ansel Adams was a master at placement of fore-ground and middle-ground objects in grand vista-type landscape photos. Those items (boulders, plants, etc) for all intents and purposes created leading lines to draw the viewer through the image and towards the background object of the mountain range or canyon. The “lines” don’t even have to be receding. Think of a spiral staircase. Your eye follows the shape of the swirl and leads you through the image from top to bottom in the same way a receding line pulls you from the front of the image to the back.

On this particular day, my subject matter was a self-storage facility. Woo hoo! Exciting! I could photograph it with the amount of excitement I felt for the subject matter, or I could choose to see it as a challenge and try to make something interesting out of something boring. I chose to use strong leading lines to create visually interesting geometry within the photos. The “product” is then not only documented, but heightened in some way.

So think about how you can build your compositions to incorporate elements that can draw your viewer in and/or create the most interesting photographs, even if the subject matter is rather dull.




%d bloggers like this: