Photo Diary 64/365 The Power of Lines In Photography And What They Express

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Lines are not only dots out for walk, as the painter Paul Klee had mentioned, but also one of the basic and significant elements of every visual composition. Lines arrange and divide the subject’s space, guide the viewer’s eyes and create different senses with their forms and qualities. They can be obvious or suggested and they can be categorized to horizontal, vertical, oblique and curved. 

One of the first things I try to define when I have a potential photo composition in me is lines. And, lines are one of the first things I communicate when I look at a piece of art. Of course, this doesn’t happen only to me; our eyes are created in this way to understand perspective and search for lines and shapes in order to be oriented. 

There are many different kinds of lines one can meet in a composition. There are horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved and implied. Every of them creates a different impression and feeling to the viewers. 

••• Horizontal

Horizontal are the lines parallel to the horizon and represent the surface of the earth according to the horizon. 

That’s why these compositions can give us a sense of ease, relax, fun and happiness. They express stability and calmness because they are lying down and don’t disrupt or distort our vision.

••• Vertical

Vertical lines create a sense of majesty and grandeur as they give the sense of height in the scene (Art with Heart – Assisting the Work by Ph. D. Ruth L. Cohen).

They suggest an uplifting power and a potential energy. When vertical lines are straight and parallel to the side of the photos, they express a sense of strength and stability that enhance the main subject or point of interest.

••• Curves

The famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi said that in nature there are no straight lines or sharp corners and therefore buildings must have neither straight lines nor sharp corners. The meaning of curves lines may vary by the form.

Photograph vision by Papanikolaou Joanna on 500px
vision by Papanikolaou Joanna on 500px

Soft and shallow curves are more pleasant and would create a feeling of safety, relaxation and comfort. They could also express sensuality as a representation of human curves. On the other hand, deep and acute curves may cause a sense of frustration and turbulence. Moreover, S curve, the line of beauty, carries a more positive meaning of perfect grace and harmony.

••• Diagonal

Diagonal lines have a dynamic and imply action and motion, when they play a leading role in the composition and guide the viewer’s eye. 

Especially, if they start from left bottom corner and move up to the center, they offer more depth as natural viewpoint. But, they could also represent tension and instability, if we use multiple and asymmetrical oblique lines. 

That’s why is essential to choose the proper lines in order to express our distinctive view of a scene in an ultimate way. For example, if I want to express a feeling of tension and frustration, maybe horizontal lines are not suitable. An oblique angle or sharp curves would suggest these off-balance feelings in a better way. 

Yet, I think most of the time the meaning of lines is captured and served by the composition subconsciously since the scene itself triggers our feelings and leads our senses to capture it according to our emotional understanding.

••• Sources

Here are some useful articles to read about lines:

Composition in Photography – Lines on

Photography composition: Lines on

The Meaning of Lines: Developing a Visual Grammar on

Working the Lines in your Photography on

How Diagonal Lines add Direction and Dynamics to your Photos on

Firstly published and blogged By JWP
All the photos are my original copyrighted work © All Rights Reserved by Ioanna Papanikolaou.

16 thoughts on “Photo Diary 64/365 The Power of Lines In Photography And What They Express

  1. Πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα ανάρτηση και άκρως ερωτεύσιμες οι φωτογραφίες!
    Αέρας Θεσσαλονίκης!


  2. Το φωτογραφικό σου μάτι Ιωάννα πραγματικά παγιδευει τη στιγμή και ταυτόχρονα σε μεταφέρει στην εικόνα!!! Τουλάχιστον έτσι το εισέπραξα εγώ βλέποντας τις φωτογραφίες σου..


  3. ναι ναι είναι οι καλύτερές σου φωτό και αυτή από το Δωμάτιο με θέα ήταν η αφορμή να σε γνωρίσω! Να σαι καλά κορίτσι μου!


  4. Καλησπέρα Ιωάννα μου!!Διάβασα μέ πολύ ενδιαφέρον τήν ανάρτησή σου!
    Κάθε φορά μαθαίνω καί κάτι καινούργιο σχετικά μέ τήν φωτογραφία!
    Οι φωτό σου απίστευτες!!Πανέμορφες!!Καλό βράδυ!!Φιλάκια!!


  5. Σ'ευχαριστώ παρά πολύ Dimi μου !!! Χαίρομαι που σου αρέσουν οι αναρτήσεις μου και τις βρίσκεις χρήσιμες!!! Πολλά φιλιά !!! Καλή σου μέρα !!!


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