“Implied Line” Photography Example

You don’t have to draw every single line in art. If you are drawing something familiar, and draw most of it, the eye will complete the rest for you. This is useful if your style is more abstract than photo realistic. The technique of letting the eye fill in part of the image is called “implied line.”

This morning I realized that it works with photography, too. It was windy yesterday evening, and there were a number of downed branches. I walked past a tree and noticed a branch hanging out of the foliage. It looked a lot like a monkey dangling from the tree, but not quite enough.

The branch had good bends, but the monkey had just one arm and no head, and while I could imagine it, most people probably would not agree. But when I took two more steps, the telephone pole in the background provided the other arm, and the mailbox in front of the house created a round head tucked into shoulders.

The fact that my iPhone camera foreshortens the view is fine. If you glance at the picture, you assume it is a stick-figure monkey in a tree, and that is exactly what “implied line” is about. Even in photography.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and writer. You can see her work at QuinnCreative.com