John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche



s_lines in photography


Of all the lines in an image, the s-shaped line is probably the most intriguing.

Unlike other lines, it changes direction: left then right, back and forth, here then there. For that reason it possesses a sense of dimension, rhythm, and vibration that other lines do not. It’s the line that keeps changing its mind, that might become unpredictable.

The speed of its movement may vary. Is it a slow, relaxing, and lazy S, like an old meandering river? Or an energetic almost zig-zagging streak, like a zany rocket out of control. 

Whatever the speed, the oscillation of the s-line encourages the eye to notice elements on this side and then on that side. Psychology suggests that eye movements back and forth stimulate new ideas and emotions. Such bilateral stimulation encourages us to realize new connections and see “the big picture.”  The movement of an s-line in an image might serve the same purpose.

The shape of  S also stirs the archetypic imagination. It’s smoke rising into the sky. A snake. A whip. The curves of a woman’s body and an echo of the infinity symbol.


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Here are some other articles related to this topic:

The Line
Diagonal Lines
Psychological Lines

Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche