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Rule of Odds Photography: Everything You Should Know

In this era of smartphones and tech-rich cameras, almost everyone understands one or two things about photography composition. Even the least tech-savvy smartphone owner knows how to add frames, textures, shapes, and content to photographs. Today, our discussion will major on the rule of odds photography to shed some light on this photography composition technique. 

Most people compose and enhance photographs, just for fun. If you got a chance to ask some of your closest friends who share the best of photographs on social media, it might hit you by surprise that only a few know anything about the rules and techniques of adding composition to photos.

What Exactly Is the Rule of Odds Photography?

The rule of odds is an outstanding composition technique that involves adding images with an extensive range of elements while ensuring the number of elements or subjects is odd. It emphasizes the addition of odd subjects and elements to your image to create a visually interesting composition.

As per the technique, even numbers don’t create intriguing pictures in our minds. That’s because it’s natural for our brains to organize subjects or elements in pairs when they are even.

Best Ways to Compose Elements Using Rule of Odds

In creating impressive images using the rule of odds, you have got the option to decide how and where to place the odd elements and subjects to create an exclusive look. If you’re looking to develop a protagonism look, you can surround the subject with other subjects or details provided you keep the number odd.

Photographers mostly use this technique to fine-tune photography, ensuring the subject gets more focus and attention. You can quickly do so by adding small objects inside the image framing or creating a notion of distance by moving some of the elements out of focus. Give your photograph a stimulating look with these easy tricks of composing images:

  • Add a triangle inside the framing. You can place it such that the subject sits in it.
  • Arrange your subjects in lines. You place the subjects vertically or side-by-side.
  • If the composition is made of over three elements, reposition them inside the framing to create an impressive composition.

Does Composing Images Following the Rule of Odds Cause Overcrowding?

When composing images and adding elements to photos in adherence to the rule of odds, you should understand that it’s possible to make pictures look overcrowded. Pro photographers advise adding a maximum of five subjects to an embodiment. Going past that number could create a notion of overcrowding in the photo. Also, use less populated elements or subjects. The denser ones could cause repetitio, which may not aid in making the images as impressive as desired.

Don’t ever forget that the human brain is sensitive to things that create a crowd. Viewers may lose interest in an image that contains so many elements.

Rule of Odds for Still Photography

Ostentatious Osteospermum 3

Photo Credit: RMC Rochester 

Even beginners will find it interesting practicing the rule of odds in still photography. The photos you took of non-living items, including fruits, stones, and pencils, could be enhanced following the rule of odds.

The good thing is you can move these objects to your liking. You can place them anywhere in the framing to realize the perfect look. You may want to use simple backgrounds to minimize distractions. Professional photographers often place their image subjects on simple objects such as fabrics, canvas, or even tables.

Rule of Odds for Nature Photography

Three Baobabs on Kubu Island

Photo Credit: Kobus Vorster

This impressive composition model can also do a superb job when used for enhancing natural subjects in photography. The art can be as simple as enclosing an odd number of flowers or plants inside a framing.

It could also be as easy as adjusting the position of the target object to change its direction or perspective. Photographers can as well achieve the desired look by repositioning the flowers.

Those who can’t do the subject moving trick on their own can consider cropping the photo.  Whatever method you decide to use, ensure that the subjects added don’t exceed the recommended maximum number of five. Even if they do, ensure they’re small enough to fit well in the framing without making the image look overcrowded.

Rule of Odds in Street Photography

Three Amigos

Photo Credit: Daniel DiBernardo

In capturing photography, don’t neglect the rule of odds. Don’t take the photo before you’ve confirmed whether it meets the rule of odds. You can set your image such that it features three people or even five.

Don’t just be in a hurry if you want to shoot a photo to wow the viewers. If the number of people available is not odd, you can wait for some time until you can get an odd number.

However, don’t be too glued into wanting to create a photo that meets the rule of odds to miss some amazing shots. Instead, you can take the picture and adjust the background settings or elements to create a center of attraction.

When You Should Not Use Rule of Odds

Composition rules enforce the compliance of certain laws to create impressive photos. These rules have a limit on where and how they can be applied.

You don’t have to use the rule if it doesn’t add to the photography's look and feel. Don’t allow yourself to be so obsessed with any of these rules, either. When you don’t see the value of adding the rule of odds, it would be wise to avoid its use.


Rule of odds photography was specially designed to help photographers add life and beauty to their photography. The rule has its strict guidelines that the user must understand and follow; otherwise, they won’t create a highly attractive piece that meets the guidelines.

When using the rule of odds, you must also know which type of images would work best with different composition types. The sole reason for implementing this rule in composing your photos is to create a point of interest and attract more viewers. It would not be a great idea to use the rule of odds when you think that the photo meets all composition qualities.

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