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The Visual Pathway (Photo Composition)

Every successful image has a visual pathway, whether it is intentional or not. Without a visual pathway, the eye wanders aimlessly through unrelated elements. The visual pathway is the sequence of points of interest that the viewer notices. The pathway forms a structure, and the viewer’s gaze should flow through this structure. Scientists would be quick to tell you that the eye darts around the image and does not move in a fluid pathway, but the visual pathway is about the order of visual dominance of elements.

Although your eye may momentarily hunt for each element, the mind latches onto each point of interest. The exact pathway will vary with each viewer, but we are all similarly programmed with regard to what we notice first.


How to Identify the Visual Pathway

  1. Identify points of interest.
  2. Identify lines of force (a.k.a. guiding lines or leading lines).
  3. Determine which point of interest is the entry point.
  4. Determine the sequence of the remaining lines and points.

Learn composition from the book Exquisite Curves