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Photo Tip - Leading the Eye | Insight Guides Blog

Photo Tip - Leading the Eye

Young people playing guitars on the street. Parati, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. by Yadid Levy, (photo by Yadid Levy)
Young people playing guitars on the street. Parati, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. by Yadid Levy


Photography: Yadid Levy

Camera Settings: 1/12 exposure, f4, 1600iso, 65mm focal length


Leading the eye

Some of the most successful images are very simple – an autumn leaf beside a blurred stream of water, or a person looking across a great landscape. One of the reasons these images are so effective is because there is no confusion about the main point interest – the eye is taken straight there. Paths, tracks, railway lines, roads, rows of buildings, trees, fences, telegraph poles and wires can all be used to guide the viewer. If a path leads to a gate, then the gate should be open, inviting the viewer into the photograph. An open gate, door or window is always more positive than a closed one.


A flow of water can take the eye towards the leaf. Vanishing points can lead the eye to various parts of the image. Strong diagonals are a dynamic element to use, and can be created in almost every situation. Viewed from below, a modern bridge can dramatically launch itself into a photograph from an upper corner and lead the eye towards a town or city.


You should avoid including misleading guidelines that reduce the impact of a shot or confuse the viewer. This could be a meandering pathway that disappears out of the frame, rather than ending at a building, or the main branch of a tree that takes the eye off to the side rather than upwards. This also applies to people in a photograph.


Imagine a picture of a market, for example, where the centre of interest is a fruit seller and a particular pile of exotic fruit. People may be gathered around the stall, as subordinate elements, and it would be best to picture them looking at the fruit. The people’s gaze leads the eye in the same way that a line of fence posts do.


Experiment with this rule with the centre of interest in mind. Think, too, of people looking away; their gaze could lead to another part of the image that may be just as interesting.

 

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