Rule Of Odds | What is the Rule of Odds and How to Use it in Photography Composition

The photography composition rule that we’re going to be talking about today is the Rule of Odds. No not Rule of Thirds, Rule of Odds. So to begin with what is the Rule of Odds?

The Rule of Odds suggests that an image is more visually appealing if there are an odd number of subjects. So you simply include an odd number of elements to an image, rather than an even number. Or you arrange the elements in an image in groups to create odd numbers. When a frame includes an even number of subjects, like two or four, your brain tends to organise the subjects into pairs, which can make your compositions look a bit dull.

How Many Elements Should You Use

Three is the most appealing option amongst the odd numbers. You can compare this image having three subjects with the one on the side with two subjects.  

Whenever our brain pairs up two of the subjects, we have the third one catching our attention. Five and seven are still good numbers to compose with. But put more than nine and our brain starts to treat them as a group.

If the elements of an image are arranged according to the Rule of Odds, the viewer’s eye is allowed to flow around the image more easily. This leads to a greater feeling of harmony in the image.

How to Apply the Rule of Odds

The easiest way to practice the Rule of Odds is by taking photos of things you have at home. Any small object can work: game pieces, fruit, cups,  stones, pencils, etc.

For three elements, placing them in a line is a great option.

You can also make a triangle shape, making the image more dynamic.

Whatever you do try to place one main subject as the hero, with the other two as supporting subjects, and eyes will naturally fall to a middle subject, giving your photo a focal point.

So in still life photography, this rule is easier to follow as the composition is in my hands. But…

For outdoor photography, like street photography, take a moment and check if you can build an image that includes an odd number of people. You might have two people and need to wait until the third appears.

Be patient and open-minded, but also don’t miss a nice portrait just because you’re waiting for one more person to come into the frame. Instead, try to get something from the background associated with your two main subjects. It can be a statue, another person or even an interesting doorway.

The most important thing is not to lose a photo just because the conditions are not perfect.

For nature photography, like flowers, When you are framing your image, do it so that you capture an odd number of flowers in the frame. you might need to move around a little, change your perspective or the direction of shooting.

For bird or wildlife photography, like street photography be patient, but please don’t refrain yourself from clicking just because there are two birds and not three.

How to Break the Rule of Odds

Composition rules are useful for creating interesting images. But you should not let them restrict you. Like I said, if there are an even number of birds in my frame, that should not mean I don’t click or discard that photo. Let nature be the way it is.

Another example where the Rule of Odds may look odd is couple portraits. You don’t want a third person in them do you?

So as a conclusion follow the rule of odds whenever and however you can but don’t let it restrict you from pressing the shutter release button. You can apply the rule of odds to all types of photography. However, remember that it is more a guideline than an actual rule. Use it only when it improves your images.

I hope you liked my blog. Do let me know your suggestions and thoughts in the comments section. Thank you!

Also Read – Rule Of Space in Photography






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