Diagonal Lines in Photography

Diagonal Lines as Compositional Elements in Photography

Until I can post more portraits taken with the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 ART, let’s look at the use of diagonal lines in photography. Diagonal lines make powerful compositional elements that help guide, and then focus viewers’ eyes on the subject. While, as with everything else, it’s not good to overuse them, diagonal lines work best in certain visual narratives, offering interesting vantage points, enhancing mood, guiding the eye, etc. And so, here are a few examples.

Diagonal lines in nature:

When photographing from a no-door helicopter, try to notice diagonals in the shape of a scenery (below, a smoking volcano crater on the Big Island of Hawaii, for example) or drastically tilt the horizon, or the shape of a tree or plant, for example.

Diagonal lines in the city:

look for diagonals in building architecture, streets (especially when photographing from above, either from a helicopter or with a drone, for example), zigzag patterns, shadows, close-ups of city skylines, etc. Or look for more implied diagonal directions, as in the aerial image below, shot through an airplane window with my iPhone.

Here’s an image taken in Philly–the diagonal direction is up, from bottom left to top right corners of the frame (obviously).

Here’s another example of diagonal lines, in the opposite direction, shot in Midtown Manhattan with my iPhone, a few years ago.

Diagonal lines can be used in other situations, such as wedding photography, when photographing wedding details, for example

Also, consider using diagonal lines to define positive/negative space in an image:

Or use diagonal lines in a more subtle, implied way, rather than actual lines.

Or use diagonal lines as part of the subject, itself:

There are, of course, many other examples of diagonal lines and their role and purpose in image composition.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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