Combining Lines, Edges, and Reflections in Photography


Reflections make photographs more interesting.  Lines make photographs more dynamic.  Edges make photographs edgy more pronounced.  Photographs with reflections, lines, and edges tend to be more interesting, dynamic, and pronounced.

When you start out in photography you read, read, and read some more about all the different techniques that make a photograph more interesting and eye-catching.  First you’ll read about the rule of thirds, then perhaps about lines, and eventually about every other element that can strengthen your photographs composition.  Rarely do you find an article telling you to combine as many as these elements as you can into one photograph and you shouldnt do it for every photograph.  Next time you strap your camera on, try capturing photographs that have as many composition strengthening elements as you can.  If you try this a few times you’ll eventually learn to look for them everywhere.


  • Lines can be used to direct viewers eyes to points of interest
  • Look for inadvertent lines in your old photography
  • Horizontal lines are most common (think horizon)
  • Vertical lines should be kept in line with the edges of the frame
  • Diagonal lines are best used to draw viewers eyes through the frame to a point of interest
  • Interestingly “S”-shaped lines seem to draw the most interest from viewers (think winding creek or bendy road)

Here is where things get interesting!  You can add or subtract from the composition with reflections as much as you can with lines (distracting lines).  Reflections are a great way to add variety and color to an otherwise bland photograph (think fall foliage reflecting on an otherwise bland pond).  Be careful not to catch your own reflection looking back at yourself, unless you’re really good-looking…

Remove your polarizer filter to enhance your reflections, otherwise the polarizer does it’s job and eliminates most of the reflections.

Where to find reflections:

  • Puddles
  • Ponds
  • …and any other body of water
  • Windows
  • Sun glasses
  • Coffee (or other liquid in a cup)
  • Mirrors (I questioned even adding that obvious one)
  • Shiny Metals (hub caps, sides of cars, etc.)

Edges are very similar to lines, where there are lines there can also be edges.  The photograph at the top of this article is an example of man-made lines with sharp edges.  It adds a sense of masculinity to the photograph and can be interpreted as being aggressive.  You won’t find many sharp edges photographing landscapes unless there is something man-made in the frame.  Edges are popular in architecture photography to convey a clean modern look.

Write yourself a note to look for lines, edges, and reflections and then attach the note to your camera bag.  Next time you are out and about spend some time looking for photographs that incorporate these composition building elements and teach yourself to look for these everywhere.  Pretty soon you’ll find that these things catch your eye as you’re doing your everyday activities.

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