Monday, August 17, 2015

Leading Lines and Visual Pathways

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Leading lines and visual pathways aren't just for when you're shooting in an environment that provides opportunities for incorporating such things into your photos. Leading lines and visual pathways aren't simply elements of a composition that are apart or separate from your models. Your models' poses can also provide leading lines and visual pathways.

So, what are leading lines and visual pathways?

Leading lines and visual pathways are elements in your composition that lead or direct viewers' eyes to the main subject of your glam (or any) portrait and they generally do so in powerful and aesthetically pleasing ways.  In other words, they either point to, lead, or direct, via pathways, to your subject (or to specific parts of your photo) and/or they improve the allure of your subjects, add visual excitement, and generally bestow a subtle sense of power to your models

Sure, adding allure and power to your subjects can be accomplished in other ways -- separating or "popping" them from the background via shallow depth of field and/or lighting, or with makeup, hair, and styling -- but with the addition of visual pathways and leading lines, viewers' eyes are led to your subjects in even more guaranteed ways. They can also move viewers' eyes around the model and to parts of them you want your viewers' eyes led to... if that makes sense.

Lines, as you're probably aware (or certainly should be aware) are one of the Six Elements of Design.  In photography, lines are the undisputed champs of those six elements. If you're not familiar with the Six Elements of Design, put your learning hat on and get cracking! You're a photographer, dammit, and I assume (like myself and many others) you're hoping to be all you can be as such. Learning the Six Elements of Design and purposely integrating them into your photos will help you become that much better of a shooter.  Guaranteed! (Where to find all you need to know about the Six Elements of Design? Google is your friend.)

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In glamour photography, the "S" curve (illustrated in the sample photo at the top) is probably the most commonly seen use of lines when shooting sexy models. The visual pathway created by a model making an "S" curve with her body adds plenty of allure to her image. Since I shot my model (in the photo above) against a seamless, there were no other lines in the shooting environment to take advantage of. That only left the model herself to create such lines.

In the photo on the right, also shot against a seamless, the model's arms are forming leading lines, diagonal lines, which help lead viewers' eyes (via visual pathways) to her pretty face. BTW, diagonal lines are generally considered the strongest of the strong, line-wise.

There are many elements to a photograph's composition. There are quite a few so-called Rules of Composition.  Those rules, of course, aren't set in stone. But they do provide excellent guidelines for enhancing the artistic look and feel of your images and are easily employed. Again, consider the photo above right. Besides using leading lines formed by the model's pose, I've also framed it in a way that utilized negative space as well as a nod to the Rule of Thirds. All those elements of composition, IMO, serve to enhance the image in positive ways.

Model photography isn't simply about shooting pretty, well-lit, women posing in various ways and in various stages of dress and undress. There are many elements of composition that can easily be utilized to improve your photos.  Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to learn all you can about these elements, in addition to lighting techniques, model interaction, and so much more. And, of course, once learned your job is to practice, practice, practice.


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