Line of Sight

Line of Sight

Composition and design are made up of many, many elements. Things like visual weight, aspects of graphic elements such as vertical lines, diagonal lines, the use of perspective and so much more. There is one underrated and often under utilized aspect that I would like to focus on with today’s post and that is the use of eye-lines or simply put, the line of sight. The face is one of the strongest compositional elements in an image. So much visual weight is given to the human face that it trumps just about everything else in an image. And so, when the human face is looking at an object that line of sight becomes a strong element of design. This line of sight is so powerful it has complete control over the viewer and makes or to put it stronger, forces the viewer follow through to the end of this implied line.

Below is an example of two men in India looking at a book. The lines are so strong that you can not help but look at the book with them. Put your cursor over the image and see the path the eyes make the viewer take.

Another example is below. This young girl to the left is looking at her sister to the right. If the girl on the left was looking directly into camera your eyes would eventually drift to the sister on the right, but with her looking at the sister you are compelled to look at her. Here the eye-line or line of sight is an intricate part of the composition of the image.

The last example is the image my daughter Jessie took of Bruce, a friend of ours. This is an example where diagonal lines play a huge part in the composition. Bruce, my friend is looking over his left shoulder off the frame. Your eyes naturally follow his line of sight. But the diagonal lines of the red shutter are so strong that they pull the viewer back to Bruce and the process repeats.

Now here’s my challenge: Go through your images and see how many you have use this compositional technique on. I bet you’ll find like me, you don’t use it very often at all. A person that is a master of this technique is my buddy David duChemin. Check out some of his images at his gallery and you will see it use time and time again. David is a master at this.

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. heber_vega

    This post is a good reminder for composition… keep posting this useful stuff.

  2. eDanial

    really informative and impressive.
    We actually don't put time on focusing and composing while taking portraits. This can really enhance your observational skills. Thank you for sharing such information 🙂



  1. A Blueprint in the Chaos - Line of Sight - The Power of the Eyes... via Along with David DuChemin and Chris Orwig, Gavin…

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