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  • Betty Girardeau

Leading Lines


One of the things we photographers do when planning our compositions is something called looking for leading lines. They are considered one of the most useful elements when capturing images because they create depth and symmetry as well as drawing the eye into the image and focusing the viewers attention on the main subject. The image above is not that great an example of leading lines because the lines disappear at the top of the frame causing the viewer to wonder where things are in fact leading. When I took this image, I was really more interested in the texture of the wood. But I am using it as an example of leading lines in our lives. The reason they are so powerful in photography is because they make the viewer want to go somewhere or to know something more about what might be at the end of the line. I believe that if we think about life itself being a leading line it will keep us moving, learning, and progressing. But not knowing where we may be actually going can be a bit scary. And often there are two or more paths from which to choose. David Gomes writes that much of our life is on "autopilot, and a common response for people who are running out of time is to say, 'Did I really live or was I too busy worrying about little things that don’t mean anything now.'" These are thoughts that can come naturally to those of us in our "Golden Years." I think of my mother in this regard. She realized before she died that she had spent too much of her life cleaning house, something that she really was pretty fanatical about. I have followed many paths already in my life, most of which have enriched it in many ways. But what makes life still exciting for me is finding new paths to follow, often not knowing exactly where they will take me other than that it could be something fun or interesting. Gomes suggests that to have the best lives we possibly can with few if any regrets in later life, we should take what he calls "The Master Path Challenge." This is how he describes the challenge: "Every day for seven days, find a place in your life where you choose intuition over logic, passion over skill, adventure over safety, and hope over doubt." Until reading this I had not realized that that is what I have done and continue to try to do. So far it has served me well. I am seldom bored; I continue to have more to do than the time to do it in; and I keep rediscovering myself and more about my potential. Leading lines take many forms, but they always have direction and they can help give us focus when we most need it. I think that is why they create such a powerful message in art and photography.

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