How to create dynamic landscape compositions without leading lines

Tips & Techniques

Are you a rule follower or a rule breaker? The rebel in me usually likes to bend the rules as much as possible, and the rules of photography and composition are no exception. It’s true that they exist for a reason, and often by following them, at least in the early phases of learning, we will get much better results.

However, following rules all the time when creating art can quickly get boring. In this video landscape photographer, Brendan van Son shows us some ideas for creating dynamic images without using leading lines.

Leading lines in an image are often an important compositional device. It helps lead the eye towards a subject, it creates a sense of depth in the image, and creates a feeling of perspective. These are all great things, but what do you do if such lines don’t exist in the landscape in front of you? Can you still make a compelling photograph?

Brendan explains how he usually looks for a background first when he’s hunting out an image. Then he picks out the mid-ground, and lastly the fore-ground.

Brendan also says that many photographers get so caught up in finding leading lines in a composition that they forget about looking for and using diagonals and triangles. His goal then is not necessarily to draw the viewer’s attention to one specific object. Instead, Brendan aims to keep the viewer’s eye on the image for as long as possible, and by using diagonals and triangles you can help bounce their eye around the image.

So next time you’re out looking for an interesting composition, don’t get too hung up on finding leading lines. Look for other compositional devices as well such as diagonals and triangles.

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