Quick Tip: Using Composition Lines

If you want to attract a viewer to your images the best way is to emphasize line, shape, patterns, and textures.

Composition and line play a key role in all photos. A line is a shape that is longer than it is wide. Lines can be actual or implied (dashes, dotted or a series of patters). Line gives the eye direction within the photo.

Let’s start with line. Because without line you cannot have shape and without shape you cannot have pattern, and without line, shape or pattern there can be no texture.

Use lines strategically to create a more dynamic photograph. Incorporating them into your photos will lead the viewer’s eye to the main subject.

What are the different types of line?

Vertical lines filled with potential energy and evoke strength, power, excitement, rigidity and stability (especially when thicker). Also, if the main subject matter contains vertical line I recommend shooting vertical as this will further accentuate the subject.

golden gate bridge - lines in composition

© R. Mabry Photography

Horizontal lines convey a message of calm, stability or even rest and symbolize peace, restfulness and tranquility.

Curved lines express fluid movement and imply serenity and dynamic movement depending on how much they curve. The less active the curve the calmer the feeling. Curved lines also slow the eye down due to its curvilinear nature.


Zigzag lines are a combination of diagonal line. They take on the dynamic and high energy characteristics of diagonal lines. They create excitement and intense or rapid movement. They convey confusion and nervousness as they change direction quickly and frequently.

Diagonal lines are unbalanced and imply action, energy, activity and rapid movement. Filled with restless and uncontrollable energy they create tension and excitement Diagonal lines are more dramatic than either vertical or horizontal lines.

©R. Mabry Photography

©R. Mabry Photography

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