Picture Perfect 5

How to Take Fun and Interesting Portraits

Ready to take a step up from being an iPhone photographer? Bob Ray with Robert Ray Photography shares how you can make the transition. 

First, use a full-size camera with “interchangeable lens” and consider “mirrorless” as this is a new option. Bob has used a Sony (Minolta) for decades but reminds us, “… The most important part of photography is six inches behind the viewfinder: your brain!”

Early on, put the camera in “auto” mode to learn how to use it. Three factors affect an image’s exposure—ISO, f stop and shutter speed—and how they interact. Eventually, you will put the camera in “aperture” mode so you control the f stop and can experiment with “depth of field.”

“A good portrait has some ‘separation’ between the subject and the background, and controlling aperture is the key,” Bob says. “And it is what separates a full-sized camera from a cell phone.”

When it comes to lighting, Bob says, “On-camera flash directly at the subject is the worst!”

Shade near full sun is best because it is “soft” on the subject and you can still have bright light to catch a “glimmer” in their eyes. Bob recommends carefully using a reflector to bounce a little sun into their face. The hour after sunrise or hour before sunset are called the “golden” hours because of warm light. 

Consider a unique environment. Some of Bob’s local favorites are a little creek and waterfall in Stone Creek Park, Doubletree Ranch Park or the new Realms of Arcadia arcade. For venturing out, Bob suggests Deep Ellum, the Fort Worth Water Gardens or the Fabrication Yard.

When it comes to getting that perfect look, Bob reminds us to keep it simple and have a conversation with the subject.

“Bring out a genuine expression by asking them something about which they are passionate or telling a joke,” Bob says. “If you and your subject are having fun, you will get better, more interesting portraits.”

Check out more of Bob’s work at RobertRayPhotography.com.