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How to Use Vertical Lines in Photography Composition

Lines within a photograph can create a sense of direction and movement within the frame.

In this post, we are going to teach you how to use vertical lines in your photograph to create a certain mood and feel.

Vertical Lines Convey Power and Strength

Vertical lines have a unique ability of portraying a sense of power, strength and growth within a photograph.

They also make a composition feel more dynamic.

The reason behind this is because most of us associate vertically dominant objects, like buildings and skyscrapers to be more powerful than us; especially if the object is taller than us.

Studies have shown that we associate taller people to be more powerful and influential than shorter individuals, which is why the same translates into photographs. Growth is also associated with vertical lines because most living objects, like trees grow vertically upward (see photo of the sprout below).

Additionally, vertical lines convey a sense of strength because often you can’t fill the entire frame of a photo with a vertically dominant object without having to point upward at it. (Imagine trying to photograph a skyscraper from the street below.) Because of this factor you often have to move far away from a vertically tall object to capture it completely in the frame, like in the photo of the building below.

Vertical Lines Photograph by Dr. Kluane SpakePhoto by Dr. Kluane Spake Vertical Lines Photograph by lianarosephotoPhoto by lianarosephoto

In contrast, horizontal lines convey stability and peace. Just think about how peaceful you feel when you look at a photo composition of a landscape horizon. Horizontal lines make us feel calm.

Knowing the effect vertical lines have on your photos will help you to shoot better photographs because you’ll know how to use them to your advantage.

For example, take a look at the beach photo below. Normally this composition would have made you feel calm and peaceful because it is is has horizontal lines formed by the ocean’s horizon. However, by composing the photo with the vertical lines of the fence in this picture, the photo now has energy and becomes very dynamic. You can’t help but feel more agitated as you stare at this photograph. The dominant vertical lines have given power and strength to this photo.

Vertical Lines Photograph by Steve Stanger
Photo by Dr. Steve Stanger

Below are two more examples of how vertical lines can increase the power and strength of a photo.

Notice how the tall vertical lines in the photo on the left with the man walking adds strength to image. If the building did not have such dominant vertical lines this photo would not be as powerful. Because of the lines, it looks as if the building is towering over the man as he walks away. Height is exaggerated with the vertical lines. Now look at the photo on the right of the tree trunks. The dominant vertical lines in this photo also add strength in addition to giving off a sense of growth.

A unique photography composition trick is demonstrated by these two photos. You can use to accentuate the impact vertical objects in your photographs. Just hold your camera in vertical framing by turning the camera sideways. This allows you to emphasize the height by further lengthening the vertical subject.

Vertical Lines Photograph by r_o_n_n_iPhoto by r_o_n_n_i Vertical Lines Photograph by IngaPlinga77Photo by IngaPlinga77

We hope you enjoyed this photography tutorial on how you can effectively use vertical lines in your photographs. Please share this tutorial with other photographers using the button below!

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