The use of Horizontal and curved lines in photography

In this discussion, we’ll get introduced to the concepts of horizontal and curved lines and how they can be used in a photographic composition.

What are horizontal lines?

Horizontal lines are primarily used in landscape photography. The horizon, perhaps, is the best use case of a horizontal line in photography. But there are many other ways to use the horizontal line in photography. It depends on your composition and what you envision. 

Horizon lines are all around us, like vertical and diagonal lines. The onus is often on the photographer to find and use them in their compositions. Sometimes they’re apparent and, therefore, not so easy to isolate and use in a meaningful way. It depends on the photographer’s skills and how they can incorporate them into their compositions.

Can we use horizontal lines as anything else other than defining the horizon? 

Yes, we can. as I mentioned above, the onus is on the photographer on how they can use these lines in their compositions. Let’s say that you’re composing a street scene. There are a ton of ways in which you can incorporate a horizontal line in a street scene. Say, if you’re a subject standing on the street. You can use the roofline of the houses, the street curb, and the fencing along a street as straight lines and accentuate the subject of focus.

In the same way, you can use a brick wall, position a subject along the wall, and use the brick line as horizontal leading lines to point at the subject. Your imagination limits what you can do with horizontal lines in your photography. That’s true with any lines in photography.

What are curved lines?

As the name suggests, curved lines are neither straight nor do they follow a fixed pattern. They’re meandering lines often used to accentuate an image’s depth. Their job is to take the viewer around the image. They can be used as leading lines, too, in photographs. For example, a composition can have a lonely person walking on a meandering forest road. The road serves the purpose of taking the viewer deeper into the scene. As it does so, the viewer is familiarized with the whole scene. The eyes wander along the curved road, go back and forth and then focus on the image’s subject. Curved lines can be formed by using the meandering river flow across the depth of an image. The path of a glacier can form it. Even a curved fence can be used as a curved line to point toward a subject or accentuate an image’s depth.