I love white space. It drives some of my colleagues crazy. They want every image filled with something – anything! If there’s space, let’s put something there! My house is filled with white space and it drives my husband crazy (though my daughter loves it).

Simplicity, specifically white space or “negative space”, actually makes an image stronger. It enables you to direct people to what’s most important. It keeps distractions away. It calls attention to what YOU want them to see – and that’s the key to great photography: you directing what your viewer takes away.

Embracing white space is also one of my top five tips for taking better photos with your smartphone. In fact, it’s tip #1. Here are four more easy tricks that, in my experience, will make you a better smartphone photographer.

Go Natural

I rarely, if ever, use the flash on my phone. The flash on a smartphone makes people look washed out and rarely captures the essence of what is in front of me. Instead, I’m always on the lookout for natural sources of light. Whether sun, moon, street lights, or the reflection of light from behind, unless you are locked in a dark closet there is always light coming from somewhere. Find the natural light and use it!


Though I’ve never been tested, I’m sure I have ADD. During my average day I’m distracted by a thousand different things. Put a lens in front of me, though, and I immediately focus on one thing. One subject. One emotion I want to bring out.

The more you can focus on a single subject in your view, the better your photo will be. Remember: YOU are directing what you want your viewer to see and feel. Focus and you’ll be more successful.

Look Up

Have you ever noticed that most of the time we are all looking ahead and down? There’s a good reason, of course: so we don’t walk off a cliff or into a wall.

But when the lens is in your hand, I encourage you to find a new perspective. Look up and see what you see. Look behind you and notice how different your path looks. Look all around you and find a different perspective. Do anything to create a new and unique view. Your photos will thank you.

Embrace the Candid

I take a lot of formal, posed photos. There’s certainly a time and a place for them. But I’ve also found that the photos I remember – and love – the most are the ones that capture the moments between the formals.

The best images aren’t scripted, directed, or structured. They come when my lens was working and my subjects didn’t know it. These were the times when I captured single moments of authenticity and genuineness that happened quickly and spontaneously. And in these moments I found genius. So definitely take those posed shots – but always, always leave a little time for the candid.

Keep It Simple

As I mentioned at the start, my #1 recommendation for creating better smartphone photos is embracing white space.

Keep it simple. Look for that wide expanse of wall. The pool of water. The blue sky. Put your subject into that space and immediately you will have the makings of a memorable photo. Even better, move them to the side or the bottom of the image. Keep them separated off into a quarter of the image and leave the rest to white space. I promise you’ll end-up with a stunning photo your subject will love.

There are many more tips for creating great photos with your smartphone or camera, of course. But these are the five that are the easiest and will make the biggest difference.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!