Food Composition: The “Rule” of Odds

Simple and easy food composition and food styling “rule” that helps to create stunning images. The rule of odds is well-known in photography but how do I use it in food photography?!

Let’s start at the beginning. I’m obsessed with psychology and learning how the human brain works. Most of the books I have at home are about psychology or law (since I still studied law). The one topic that I stumbled on was the numbers and why designers and marketers use odd numbers. If I think about it, then it makes sense! Why else I always see prices like 9.99 and a lot of people love the number seven?!

What does it have to do with food photography?! A little. The rule of odds is quite well-known in photography to create a symmetrical composition. The idea is simple. You suppose to use the odd number of elements. Instead of using two you use three elements. The best number of elements suppose to be THREE. However, sometimes I like to use FIVE or SEVEN as well.

The rule is simple: use the odd number of elements such as 3, 5 or 7.

When I analyzed some of my images, I noticed that I use this rule quite often WITHOUT thinking about it! For example, I remember when I shoot that pancake image here, and I stacked six pancakes. However, for some reason, I had some kind of gut FEELING that I have to take that one pancake away. So, I ended up with five pancakes?! Now when I think about the rule of odds, then it makes sense. Yes, in this image there are many other elements as well. However, I like to focus on 3 or 5 main components.

Odd numbers_ 3 vs 4_ Learn Food Photography_ Styling_ Healthy Laura

Use three elements instead of four

The same story with these buckwheat wraps (btw, recipe here). I remember that I cut the wraps in half and tried to use four elements. I even did some test shots, but it felt wrong, and I ended up using three. (Actually, maybe it was just a coincidence and I was hungry?! 😅)

Chia Strawberry_ Healthy Laura_ Learn Food Photography & Styling

Place the odd number of subjects side by side.

How I use odd numbers in food photography?

Option 1: I use a line to place the subjects VERTICALLY or even SIDE by SIDE. For example, the first thing that comes to my mind is a classic pancake or cookie stack that is placed vertically. Another example is three dessert glasses that are placed side by side.

Place three elements into a triangle.

Option 2: I try to create a TRIANGLE formation (read my post here as well about the similar topic) and place three elements into a triangle.

Learn Food Styling_ Zoodles_ Triangle Healthy Laura_ Food Photography

Place three elements into a triangle.


  • I use the odd number of main elements such as 3, 5 or 7.
  • I try to place the food vertically or even side by side.
  • I try to create a triangle with three elements.

If you use these ideas, then please leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @healthylauracom or another platform. Also, I share my food photography tips and behind the scenes videos on my stories and IGTV.

Rule of Odds_ Learn Food Photography_ Composition_ Healthy Laura

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Rule of Odds_ Learn Food Composition_ Healthy Laura

Pin it!  🙂

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  1. Thank you so much! I have never thought about this and your tips are so helpful. Please keep on posting these food photography tips. More and more!