If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you’ve already read dozens of other articles on portrait photography.

That means you’re still looking for the magic touch to take your portraits to the next level.

Well, I think I have a few strategies to help you do just that!

Taking better portraits doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it require a huge investment of time or money.

With that said, here’s my top three tips to vastly improve your portrait photography.

The Eyes Have It…

They don’t say that the eyes are the window to the soul for nothing.

In portraiture, what your subject is doing with their eyes can have a huge impact on the look and feel of the image.

In most cases, portraits feature the subject looking right down the barrel of the lens.

That’s a great way to give the portrait intensity, not to mention help the viewer feel a connection with the subject.

But making direct eye contact with the lens isn’t the only option.

For a look that’s perhaps a bit softer, you can direct the subject to look off-camera. Without eye contact, the subject appears more natural, as though it’s a candid moment that the photographer just happened to capture.

Additionally, when the subject looks off-camera, it makes us wonder what they’re looking at. That sense of intrigue can make for a more compelling portrait.

Give a Backdrop a Try

Though the background of a portrait isn’t intended to be the focus of the shot, it can still make or break the image.

If you’re shooting outdoors, for example, odd shadows, areas of bright light, colors, and textures can all reach a distracting level, bringing the viewer’s attention away from the subject.

If you’re shooting indoors, a wild or crazy background (or, conversely, one that’s just plain boring) can also diminish the visual appeal of your photos.

Though blurring the background to minimize distractions is one way to go, you can also find better success by incorporating high-quality backdrops into your portraits.

A company I recently discovered that can help in this regard is Click Props.

These guys are committed to producing the highest-quality backdrops for portrait photographers, that way your subjects shine in the portraits you create.

Their backdrops are made with 550gsm vinyl, so you know that the backdrop will stand the test of time. It’s easy to clean, too – just use a wet rag!

What I like the most, though, is that these backdrops are so thoughtfully constructed. There’s grommets every 12-inches, so the backdrop lays flat.

Each grommet is reinforced as well, so there’s no risk of them ripping or tearing. With so many grommets, these backdrops are a breeze to hang, too.

Beyond that, these things look like a million bucks.

There’s no cheesy school-photo-day backdrops here. Instead, you can choose from hundreds of different designs that run the gamut from woodland scenes to graffiti to doors, and just about anything else you might think of or need.

Click Props offers multiple sizes – from 5’x5′ to 7’x9.5′ – that way you can get the ideal backdrop for your specific needs. They have floorgrounds to complete the package as well!

In other words, you can’t go wrong with Click Props backdrops. If you’re looking for a way to create portraits that are eye-catching, sophisticated, and unique, just add a backdrop!

Throw Composition Rules Out the Door

We spend a lot of time learning the “right” way to compose a portrait.

And while that’s a critical component of becoming a successful portrait photographer, so too is understanding when to cast the rules aside and let your creative juices flow.

For starters, breaking the rules means that you’re creating a photo that’s immediately more unique.

In the image above, for example, you can see that the photographer breaks the rule of thirds, placing the subject smack in the center of the shot. The result is that the subject looks powerful and commands the frame.

Another rule of portraiture (and one that I mentioned earlier) is to focus on the subject’s eyes.

However, that might not always be the best approach.

You can create amazing portraits that focus on other areas – like the hands – which have tons of character in them.

Heck, you can make gorgeous portraits with the subject’s back turned to the camera!

The point is that you want to make your photos stand out, and to do that, sometimes breaking a few rules is just what the doctor ordered.