Implied lines


This task is about identifying implied lines and requires the analysis of: two given photographs and three in my own library for the implied lines; plan and take two photographs that use an eye-line and the extension of a line, or lines that point.


The use of implied lines is not new to me so I felt comfortable progressing with the exercise after reading the course manual and the relevant part of Freeman (2007: 82-83) and Prakel (2012: 42-43).  There are numerous examples on the internet and I analysed many images to consolidate the concept; An article I found by Ann Davlin at addressing the issue of who are the world’s most famous photographers has a number of quite stunning images which made for useful examples to analyse.  I also found that looking through my own photo library and doing some analysis was a useful exercise.  Again I have elected to produce the images in both colour and B+W for comparison.


Part 1

In the first image some lines were immediately obvious; the line down the back of the matador is to indicate his line of sight, difficult to gauge given the quality of the image.  In the second photo it began to get somewhat confused with all the lines and I had to sort the wheat from the chaff (apologies!) which suggests one has to be very selective in deciding what really contributes to the composition.

Part 2

In all three photos above I was conscious of using the implied lines.  What I did not appreciate at the time was that in the middle image I was using an eye-line as well.

Part 3

Following my visit to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition in Bristol I came across this sign at the end of the building.  Having seen some quite haunting portraits in the exhibition to look up and see these two gazing down at me just screamed eye-line.  They also summed up what I had just seen in the exhibition, an eclectic mix ranging from beauty through sadness, hardship, fear and joy to, quite frankly, disturbing.  The two images here, for me, depict two extremes, on the one hand a beautiful young woman doing what she enjoys with all the associated trappings and on the other a man who, in the pursuit of truth for all to see, suffered terribly and then had the courage to take and publish this self-portrait.  Just look into the eyes of each and consider for a moment.  I think this works in both colour and B+W with the latter being more impactful for me as the two portraits stand out from the geometrical shapes surrounding them.

This was an opportunist shot while out walking on the Mendip Hills, looks like the local Ramblers in crocodile formation heading off into the distance, a line that points in the direction of travel!  Certainly in the colour image they stand out instantly due to the walkers attire but I think they also do so in the B+W image due to the tonal range and the distinct line they form which is less regular than the delineation of the fields in the distance.


I enjoyed this exercise as it caused me to really look at the images and think about the composition.  Whilst some lines are obvious there are others which are more subtle yet really contribute to the impact of the image.  Whilst out doing the shoot I found that I had to look hard to see if there were lines, other than the obvious, which helped the image. However, I did find that this was taking too long and that I was getting bogged down and had to remind myself to stick to the brief – lines obvious to the viewer.  On reflection I am less happy than I was with my second image, the Ramblers, as the line they formed is not distinct enough, I needed to be closer to achieve better definition – this is a learning point as I am trying to restrict myself to using fixed focal lengths, carrying out each exercise with a single focal length which follows advice from my tutor.  Clearly experience and practice will, hopefully, make the use of lines second nature when composing a shot.

Reference List:

Davlin, A. (2013) Who are the world’s most famous photographers.  Available from: [Accessed 8 October 2012]

Freeman, M. (2007) The photographer’s eye: composition and design for better digital photos. Lewes: The Ilex Press Limited

Prakel, D. (2012) Basics photography 01: composition. Second edition. Lausanne. AVA Publishing SA