Implied lines in photography ( 5 Main Types )

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If you want to distinguish yourself as a photographer, then you need to master the composition. This is what separates great photographers from armatures. Implied line photography is the art using line like structures as one of the key elements of the composition , these are generally used as leading lines.

Implied lines in photography add a certain depth and aesthetic quality to the image. Different types of lines in photography mean different things. In this article we will see the meaning of different lines in photography and how to include them in your photographs.

Implied line definition

Implied line or a leading line is a line in photograph that you feel is there because of the way the picture ( and its elements ) is composed.

Lighting , framing , rule of thirds , selective focus and perspective are some key as aspects of composition.

You are often influenced when you look at a photograph. It may not be obvious. The influence can be subconscious , it can be a feeling or an emotion. A good photograph can tell a lot more than what can be actually seen.

implied lines photography

Composing a picture is actually the act of looking at your frame and trying to find the best way to present your subject. You are trying to influence viewers and draw them into your image.

The general principles of composition highlight the effectiveness of lines as a method of drawing the eye of the viewer into the picture. Perhaps lines are one of the strongest and most effective compositional elements.

What are implied lines ?

Horizontal and Vertical lines in a photograph manage to provide strong leads to the way we view a picture. You don’t have to draw certain lines in your image. The lines are formed by the way you frame your photograph i.e they are implied. These are also known as leading lines.

The art of arranging certain elements of the photograph to represent a line and draw viewers attention towards something in the photograph is known as implied line photography. Implied lines are not actual lines on a photograph they are implied by the viewers.

Photographers use implied lines to guide their compositions. These lines, as the name suggests, are not lines that are projected onto a photograph.

implied lines

If one examines the spatial composition of a photograph, one might notice a vertical, horizontal or diagonal, circular, S-curved contour line, which serves to arrange the subject matter.

Leading lines photography

The direction of movement is perhaps the most important implied line in a composition. The eye naturally follows the movement line when composing a picture that contains movement.

Good compositions will allow for plenty of space in front of moving objects so that it appears to have somewhere to go, a place to move into. The space then fulfills the implied line.

Horizon , tall trees , buildings , series of pillars , there are so many ways to use leading lines in photography. We will some examples of implied lines a little later in this article.

Leading lines in photography need not be only a straight line. There are different types of implied lines in photography.

Types of Implied lines in photography

Lines add design elements to an image. They guide the viewer’s eyes into the photo and along the focal point. The type and use of the line can also affect the mood of the photo.

Your photography composition will reach the next level by paying attention to how lines affect photography and using lines to enhance the viewer’s experience.

Here are the 5 main types of implied lines used by professional photographers.

Horizontal Implied lines in photography

Many photographic images include horizontal lines. Implied horizontal lines can indicate order and harmony, a feeling that everything is moving as it should.

Implied horizontal line can be used to help photographers divide their composition by using the “rules of thirds.”

Horizontal implied line in photography

In a photograph, our eyes will follow a horizontal path from left to right. The viewer will find the subject by interfering with the horizontal line and placing it in its path.

The viewer’s eyes will travel up the vertical subject if the subject is vertical. This makes viewing more enjoyable as the viewer is taken on a journey through each photo.

Horizontal lines in photography represent stability and certainty.

Horizontal lines such as horizons are the most common example of implied lines in photography. If you use horizon as the horizontal line in your photo , then remember to keep the horizon line exactly horizontal. You can use rule of thirds to give more importance to the sky or the land.

Vertical Implied lines in photography

Vertical lines are used in nature photography where the main subject of the image is a tree, or some other geographical edifice such as a rock wall or waterfall.

Vertical lines in photography

Strong vertical lines are also highlighted in building photography by its visual subjects. Vertical objects naturally want to be photographed in vertical orientation.

Photos with vertical lines show growth, strength, and confidence. They can stimulate feelings of dignity and height, grandeur. Vertical lines can be found in buildings, fences and even people standing up.

It is important that buildings and other man-made structures are properly positioned in photographs. If you have a prominent building in your photograph , then try and keep it as straight as possible. A tilted building looks weird unless used for creative purpose.

Diagonal Implied Lines in photography

The diagonal lines implied by a something in the photograph signify motion and momentum. These photos are often oriented along implied diagonal lines, which give the impression of progress and action.

Diagonal Lines in photography

A diagonal line in photos, unlike horizontal and vertical lines, creates tension, energy, and reassuringly restful. Imagine a bird flying, a racecar moving fast, or an aircraft taking off towards the sky.

Diagonal lines as the name suggests can traverse from one edge of the frame to other creating a sense of direction for the viewer to look at the image. They for the line of sight.

Curved Implied lines in photography

Curved lines. Implied curves communicate beauty, elegance, grace. Curved lines are everywhere in nature. Curved lines are able to lead the eye around an image, unlike straight horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines. They can wind through the image like a river.

Curved lines are slower than straight lines so the journey feels more relaxed and less edgy.

curved implied line

The S curve is a powerful and well-loved curve in photography. The S curve is a curve that follows the shape and proportions of an S. We use it a lot when photographing women. It is flattering for the female body and leads the eye to the photo at a gentle pace.

For fashion photos, models are often asked to take S curved poses. When photographed properly, jewelry and other manmade treasures also often have a curving orientation.

S curve line implied line

Landscape photography also uses S curve to great effect. A river flowing through the mountains is a great example of using S curve implied line in photograph.

Converging Implied lines in photography

Converging lines are often used in photography.

Multiple lines that approach each other as they travel through the photograph can be a great way to get your viewers’ attention into a shot.

The most well-known example of converging lines, and one that has probably been overdone, is the railway tracks or roads going towards the horizon.

leading line
leading line example

The image is enhanced with the addition of convergent lines, which add depth and create a sense that there’s more to come.

Wide angle prime lenses often enhance the feel of depth in a converging line photograph.

Implied lines photography example

There are millions of photographs and most will have some sort of implied or leading lines hidden within them. In fact that’s what is making these photographs liked by all.

Lets see some examples of implied lines in photography.

Example 1 : In this image we see two leading lines or implied lines examples. The horizon is one horizontal implied line and suns rays for two sets of lines. One in the sky and one in the water.

Example 2: In this image we see two converging lines or implied lines . The bridge sides lead us to the subject and then disappear far away as these lines converge.

Example 3: In this example we see vertical implied lines formed by the buildings. Several horizontal or diagonal lines are also seen.

Example 4 : In this example we see S curve implied line in the form of a road winding through the mountain section.

Summary : Implied lines in photography

Implied lines in photography give a tremendous tool in the hands of photographers to exploit the way they want.

Different man made or natural structures and objects can be used to form implied lines or leading lines in photographs.

They offer a lot of choice in terms of composition and image aesthetics.