When the focal point in your kid’s photo is not perfectly obvious in your image, or has to compete with other objects or people in the frame, leading lines can be used to “draw” the viewer’s eye towards the focal point and away from any distracting elements. All you need to do is identify a leading line (or lines) and re-position your subject or your camera to capture the image at the best possible angle to make use of this technique.
Like many composition techniques, leading lines are an important factor in creating memorable children’s photos.
What are leading lines?
Any “line” can serve as a leading line. It can be straight, curvy, solid, or broken. It doesn’t even have to extend all the way from the edge of the image, or all the way to the subject. It is merely a visual cue that your eye follows when looking at an image to discover the focal point.
Where do you find leading lines?
Leading lines are everywhere, and I mean everywhere. They are the peaks of mountain ranges, the lines of the horizon, the crack in the sidewalk, the curve of a walkway or path. Leading lines can be found on your kids too – in the bend of their arm, the soft line of a scarf, even the line of a nose leading up to the eyes. You’ll often find “subject” leading lines in wedding photography, where the line of the dress or the train leads towards the bride’s face – apply the same sort of technique to your kid’s photography.
How to use leading lines in kid’s photos
Primarily, you want to ensure that any leading lines in your image lead towards your subject or focal point, not towards other objects in the image that could be interpreted as the “real” focal point. This may involve re-positioning your camera, or the subject/focal point to take advantage of natural leading lines in the surrounding area.
If you have multiple or competing leading lines, ensure that the stronger leading line is leading towards the focal point. The eye will naturally follow the strongest line, when given the choice. You can also reinforce the focal point by adding your own leading lines with props, such as clothing, chalk lines, body position, etc.
Leading lines can add drama
The types of leading lines you choose to incorporate into your image can change the mood of the image. For example, tall columns or vertical lines give strength to a photo, while diagonal lines add energy. Horizontal lines convey peace and tranquility (think of the horizon on an ocean scene) while curved lines can add whimsy or charm.
The next time you are taking kid’s photos, look for leading lines and incorporate them into your image. Do they enhance your photo, change the mood, or make the photo more interesting? You bet they do!