Lining up the shot: A guide to using lines for visual appeal

August 14, 2013

The increased accessibility of the camera, revolutionized by smart phone users, and blown up by visual media sharing platforms such as Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest means the public is constantly exposed to thousands of pictures. I have news for you: that photo of your morning latte with the artsy heart design drawn in the foam has thousands, if not millions of other photos exactly like it. One way to grab the eye is through the careful use of lines.

Lines are a powerful visual tool because the eye is quick to pick them out and use them as guides for moving through the image.  Use lines to emphasize the mood of your image.

Note the image above: If the lines in the sand were removed, it would lose the context of the chaotic movement that ensued prior to this photographer’s capture. In this case, the lines make the picture feel lively; though it’s a still image, the crisscrossing footprints make you feel like you’re witnessing an entire scene of joyful scampering on the coast.

So the next time you set up for that latte shot on Instagram, you now have some context for how to set the scene. Or you can photograph the foam mustache you will have afterwards. I’m sure you will get more hits for thinking outside the mug.

And here’s Part 2 of this guide, where I dig in to photography’s Rule of Thirds.

–Carlyn Levy, UVM ’12 grad and 2013 Resource Media Summer Intern