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Monthly #capturewith challenge 10-20th August - the rule of odds

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

What Is the rule of odds in Photography?

The rule of odds states that, whenever possible, a composition should have an odd number of objects. So an image should have three elements (eg. bowls, plates etc) rather than two, and five objects rather than four.


The rule of odds extracts into the brain’s tendency to create order. When we see a group of objects, we unconsciously want to group them in pairs. But when we’re faced with three, five, or seven objects in a photo we have a group that can’t be easily organized.

With an odd number of objects, one should put all our attention and eyes on them. This will push the viewer to look longer at the photo, moving between the individual elements.

the rule of odds in food photography

Regardless of which composition you use please remember, that a properly composed scene is always more engaging.

The rule of odds it's a really great composition to practice when you have to shoot a group of objects. Odd numbers create perfect harmony in the image and it's a very simple technique to start with.

If you position your objects in form of a triangle, your eyes will naturally focus on a middle subject, giving your image a focal point. The rule of odds gives your photo beautiful symmetry and balance.

In this composition, you can focus on the details of one drink, or you can shoot multiples for a stronger storytelling aspect.

You can also play with the angle. The examples below, show how 3 elements in the same composition look different when the photo is taken from the top or in front with the backlight. Regardless of how you capture your scene, always remember which dish is the hero.

When you capture 5 elements, remember to build a scene where you can easily find a hero. The simplest way is to layer up the main plate (example on the left) or to surround it with all the accompanying elements (example on the right). To help point out the main dish, you can also use some props, eg. cutlery.

Let's take a step up, now we have 7 or more elements in the scene. You can use different sizes of bowls or plates, this will naturally build a well-balanced frame. Don't be afraid of duplicate objects, this can also create a perfect scene.

In the example on the left, you can see which dish is the main hero, it's the biggest plate surrounded by smaller pitching bowls, glasses and other portions of the same dish.

You can also add a plate or napkin under the main object to highlight the main subject in an easy way.

The example on the right shows how multiplying the same object can beautifully balance the scene. The key here is to add some elements that will help to point out the hero object, you can use props or cutlery that will help point out where exactly the viewer's eyes should focus.


How to improve the rule of odds composition in food photography by Lauren short.

Each month I ask a great photographer and educator for some tips for my challenge. This time I've asked lovely Lauren Short from FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY ACADEMY what are her hints for The rule of odds in food photography composition.

Lauren is a British food photographer living and working in Zurich, Switzerland. She runs the online school "Food Photography Academy" as well as a blog and YouTube channel.

Please take a minute and read Lauren's article Instantly Improve your Food Photography Composition using the Rule of Odds to find out even more about this great composition.

Before you go...

Have you heard that Lauren wrote a book?? You can pre-order her "The Complete Guide to Food Photography Book" book worldwide. Don't wait any minute longer! I did already.


If you have any questions or you struggle with any subject, send me a DM on my Instagram or email me. I will do my best to answer and help.


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