Food Photography Rule of Odds because I’m Odd

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?!


Yes, that was a click bait. A little. Maybe it worked if you read this. But please excuse me. I just couldn’t resist that word combination here. I might be a little bit odd. That’s okay. I hope?!


Before I start, I need to make a little disclaimer because photography is very subjective and these are just my thoughts.  I don’t know everything and I’m still learning. Some of you who are reading this might think otherwise and have different opinions. However, I believe that a different point of view is just part of photography. Still, I’m happy to hear your thoughts. 

Marketing Trick: Nothing New Here

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?!

Vegan raw tahini fudge cupcakes by Healthy Laura Food Photography. HealthyLaura @healthylauracom raw vegan No Bake Fudge cups, dessert cupcakes, gluten free coconut oil recipe, easy paleo raspberry fudge cups, dairy free recipes paleo, quick paleo, easy paleo tahini fudge cups, paleo quick dessert. #veganpaleo #paleofudge #paleotahinidessert #nobakecups #tahinifudge

Tahini Raspberry Cups

Classical Photography Composition: Nothing new here?

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.

Chocolate Quinoa Bowl by Healthy Laura Food Photography & Styling. HealthyLaura @healthylauracom vegan chocolate bowl, paleo chocolate bowl, vegan quinoa, vegan healthy recipe. HealthyLaura @healthylauracom vegan fall, quinoa breakfast, chocolate, overnight quinoa breakfast, quinoa breakfast recipe, vegan quinoa and vegan healthy recipe. #foodphotography #foodstyling #veganrecipes #glutenfree #dairyfree. #paleoveganbreakfast #paleobreakfastbowl #healthybreakfastbowl #finstagrambreakfastbowl

The rule is simple: use the odd number of elements such as 3, 5 or 7. (Quinoa Chocolate Porridge)

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.

Avocado Pancakes by Healthy Laura Food Photography & Styling. @healthylauracom HealthyLaura gluten-free, gluten-free buckwheat recipes, pancake recipes, pancake recipes, pancake, paleo pancake recipe, yummy paleo, gluten-free healthy recipes, gluten-free pancake, buckwheat wrap, buckwheat snack, buckwheat lunch, buckwheat comfort. #glutenfreepancakes #dairyfreepancakes #buckwheatpancakes

Buckwheat 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 image on the left is just awful. Excuse me, but I needed to make a statement here. At least, I tried. (Buckwheat wrap)

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?! 😅)

Learn more about #foodphotography with my 21-day challenge

How I use odd numbers in food photography?

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: TRIANGLE

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. (Mushroom pesto zoodles)

  • Use 3, 5 or 7 main elements
  • Place the main food subject vertically vs side by side
  • Create a triangle with three elements

Rule of odds by HealthyLaura food photography @healthylauracom. My food composition tips for food bloggers.

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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!