Shapes help create structure and visual interest in compositions. They guide the viewer’s eye, establish balance or tension, and convey certain emotions or messages. Diagonal lines are a particularly intriguing compositional element, as they add dynamism, energy, and a sense of movement to photographs. Diagonal lines can lead the viewer’s gaze through the image, create depth and perspective, and evoke a feeling of excitement or direction. By understanding the power of shapes and utilizing lines effectively, photographers can enhance their compositions and captivate viewers with visually compelling images.  In this article, we’ll give you essential tips for using diagonal lines in photography.

What are Diagonal Lines in Photography?

Diagonal lines are lines that slant across the frame, connecting two points in a non-horizontal or non-vertical manner. They can be found naturally in the environment or introduced deliberately through various elements.

Use Diagonal Lines to Create Visual Energy

Diagonal lines possess an inherent dynamic quality that injects energy into photographs. They have the power to convey a sense of movement, leading the viewer’s eye through the image. By incorporating lines strategically, photographers can transform an ordinary composition into a visually captivating photo.  In the image below, notice how the lines, combined with the subject in movement create visual energy and a dynamic composition.

Photo by Felix Irawan From This Article on Street Photography Tips

Use Diagonal Lines to Guide the Viewer

One of the significant roles that diagonal lines play in photography is guiding the viewer’s gaze. The inherent directional nature of lines can be harnessed to lead the viewer’s eye through the frame, ensuring a deliberate visual journey. This aspect is particularly valuable in storytelling and creating a visual narrative. With careful placement and use of lines, photographers can establish a visual flow and direct the viewer’s attention to specific points of interest.

In the image below, notice how the leading lines on the ceiling lead the viewer’s gaze right into the model.

Use Diagonal Lines to Create Frames

Diagonal lines in photography not only add dynamism and movement to an image but can also be cleverly employed to create frames for subjects. By positioning lines strategically within the frame, photographers can effectively enclose their subjects and draw attention to them.

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Photo by Justin Ho for This Article on Freelensing

When diagonal lines intersect or converge, they form a natural frame that can emphasize the main subject and provide a sense of containment. These lines guide the viewer’s eye towards the subject, creating a visual pathway that leads to the focal point of the image. The frame created by lines helps to isolate the subject from the surrounding elements, reducing distractions and allowing it to stand out more prominently.

Use Diagonal Lines to Convey Depth and Perspective

Diagonal lines have a unique ability to convey depth and perspective in two-dimensional photographs. By carefully aligning lines with vanishing points or utilizing them as converging lines, photographers can create an illusion of three-dimensionality, making the image appear more immersive and engaging. See an example in the image below.

Chicago Tilt Shift Photo
Photo by Jay Cassario for This Article on Creative Photos with a Tilt Shift Lens

Use Diagonal Lines for Symbolism and Emotional Impact

In addition to their visual significance, diagonal lines hold symbolic meaning and have the power to evoke emotions within the viewer. Different angles and orientations of lines can elicit varying emotional responses, conveying a sense of stability, movement, or tension. Photographers can leverage this emotional impact to add layers of meaning and communicate their intended message effectively.

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Photo by Giorgio Trovato from Unsplash

Try an Aerial Perspective to Find Lines

Incorporating an aerial perspective can offer a fresh and captivating approach to utilizing lines in photography. By considering drones or elevated positions, photographers can gain a unique vantage point from above, unlocking a whole new realm of possibilities. This perspective opens up opportunities to explore architectural structures, expansive landscapes, or vibrant urban environments where diagonal lines are prominently visible.

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Photo by Brad Walls in This Article on Surreal Drone Shots of ‘Vacant’ Squash Courts

When photographing from above, look for lines created by roads, rivers, bridges, or rooftops that form striking diagonals across the frame. These lines can serve as powerful compositional elements that add depth and a sense of scale to the image. Experimenting with different angles and orientations allows for emphasizing the diagonal lines and creating visually dynamic compositions.

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Photo by Bright Light Studios (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at The Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana in Punta Cana Dominican Republic

Architectural marvels such as skyscrapers, stadiums, or bridges often exhibit strong lines when viewed from an aerial perspective. Play with the angles of these structures to accentuate their lines and create compelling compositions that highlight their grandeur and elegance.

Find Patterns of Diagonal Lines

Look for repeating patterns and geometric elements. Keep an eye out for patterns or geometrical elements in your surroundings that create a series of lines. These could be anything from textured surfaces, rows of objects, or even natural formations. By identifying these patterns and incorporating them into your compositions, you can create a visually dynamic image that draws the viewer’s attention along the diagonal lines.

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Photo by Daryan Shamkhali from Unsplash

Use Diagonal Lines to Lead the Viewer to the Subject

To establish a sense of visual flow and guide the viewer’s eye, consider placing your subject along a diagonal line within the frame. This technique adds a dynamic element to your composition and draws attention to your subject. By aligning the subject with the diagonal line, you create a harmonious connection that enhances the overall impact of the image.

Another effective approach is to align the diagonal line in such a way that it intersects or leads directly to your subject. This alignment creates a strong visual connection between the diagonal line and the subject, emphasizing its importance within the composition. This technique helps to highlight your subject and ensures that it becomes a focal point for viewers.  See a good example of this in the screenshot below from the Disney classic, Lion King.


Find Naturally Occurring Lines

Diagonal lines are all around us and even in nature.  Explore landscapes, seascapes, or mountain ranges to discover natural elements that form lines, such as tree branches, cliffs, or waves.  But also pay attention to the small details in nature such as patterns on leaves and insects.

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Photo by Zack Smith From Unsplash


Diagonal lines are a wonderful tool in the photographer’s arsenal, enhancing composition, creating visual energy, guiding the viewer’s eye, conveying depth, and evoking emotions. By understanding the power and purpose of diagonal lines, photographers can elevate their work and captivate viewers with visually compelling images. So, embrace the dynamic potential of diagonal lines and experiment with their incorporation in your photography, as they hold the key to unlocking new dimensions of artistic expression and visual storytelling.