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Compositional Controversies

Part 4: Leading the Line (or, Following the Herd?)

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer.


Once upon a time about 130 years ago (okay, 30 years ago), I had one of those light-bulb moments. They don’t happen very often (more’s the pity), so it must have been significant. And, believe it or not, I figured out that converging lines were an effective tactic, compositionally. Perhaps the deduction came from seeing Paul Wakefield magazine car ads from the early 1980’s, all single track silvery roads snaking off through mysterious charcoal-toned landscapes? Or Bill Brandt’s marvellous north-east miner pushing his bike? Or one of Fay Godwin’s dale-crossing trods, from Remains of Elmet? But memory is not what it was so that I couldn’t be sure. What I do know is that it did not come from reading a book, or an article, and it also certainly preceded the arrival of a million ‘how to shoot landscape’ articles and videos on the internet. Today, it is hard to imagine any aspiring landscape photographer making an inroad into the medium without stumbling over the “Leading Lines” mantra sooner rather than later.

I don’t say this to reinforce my capacity for independent thought, but rather to make the point that some ideas have a currency that may, on reflection, seem as old as the hills…, of Tuscany probably.

Pilgrimsway, Holy Island

Pilgrimsway, Holy Island

You can read the previous four articles in the series by Joe:

Compositional Controversies Part 1: Simplicity vs Complexity 

Compositional Controversies Part 2: Rule of Thirds

Compositional Controversies Part 3: Aspect Ratio Wars

Compositional Controversies Part 5: Form and Void 

Compositional Controversies Part 6: Part 6: Depth and Flow

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