Week #7: Rule of Odds

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Feb 8 and Sunday, Feb 15 (noon, Eastern)

Let’s talk composition. When talking art, there are some principles that have served artists for centuries. This week, we’ll be focusing on one of them – The Rule of Odds.

The Rule of Odds states that scenes composed of odd number of subjects are more visually pleasing than scenes composed of even numbers. So, a picture of 3 cats will likely be more interesting than a similar photo of 4 cats. Why? Well, some theorize that this is because the brain naturally tries to group objects into pairs, which often leaves the center of a scene empty. Instead, when the most interesting part of the image is in the center, flanked by an even number of objects on either side, the eye is immediately drawn to the center focal point. Here’s a handy-dandy illustration:


But that’s more technical than we need to get into. The key thing is to just find groupings of items/subjects in odd numbers! Take a look around, and you’ll start to see 3’s, 5’s, 7’s and more everywhere!

We think this week’s challenge is going to be a great one, helping you to see the world in a more composed way. It’s going to be fun, educational, and beautiful! (See, we used 3 adjectives there, because the Rule of Odds even applies to writing!).

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Here’s a great YouTube video breaking down classic examples of photos that fit the Rule of Odds. (Gets interesting at the 4:23 mark)
  • Here’s a simple-to-read blog post about our new favorite rule, with examples of the differences between odds and evens.
Need some inspiration? Check out Google Images! (Careful, not all the photos there are necessarily Rule of Odds compliant!)

Extra Credit: “Found on the Street”

Walk the streets and find a natural arrangement of Odds. Keep your eyes peeled, you’ll start finding them everywhere! Feel free to recruit your family, coworkers, friends and random passers-by in the hunt! One suggestion is to find a great setting with a very intentionally-chosen background. Lie in wait with your camera, and wait for the odd group to arrange itself, and then snap! See this beautiful shot for inspiration. Some more great street photography examples, from renowned photographer, Fan Ho, here, here, and here.

Again, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!