Photographer Russel Ray stands in the glare of the spotlight today. Russel’s start is common to many, serving on newspaper and annual staffs in junior high and high school, and then as a member of the Texas A&M University Photography Club. Working fulltime as a house inspector (Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray), Russel is carving out a creative niche in the California area, serving many with his collectible photos.
Q) Tell me about the best subject or your favorite that you’ve photographed, and what’s a theme or topic you don’t think you’d like to capture again?
A) My favorite subjects to photograph are Mother and Father Nature’s little ones, which makes me very lucky to live so close to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld. If I need to get out from behind the computer and take some pictures but don’t have anywhere specific to go, the Zoo, Park, and SeaWorld make great standbys!
I can’t think of anything that I would not want to take pictures of. However, natural disasters might be up there, especially if I took, say, a picture of the location of a building that was wiped away by a tornado or a building that was crushed by an earthquake and then later found out that people died at that location. That would be weird to me.
Q) What do you do if you’re not satisfied with a shot, which editing program to you prefer, and what advice would you offer to others who want a fab photo?
A) I’m never satisfied with a shot. As my wise old grandmother always said as she sat down with all her Kodak and Polaroid pictures in the ’60s and ’70s to create photo albums and scrapbooks: “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”
Depending on what I want to do, I have several programs I use. If I just need a quick and beautiful frame around the picture, I used Word 2010. Don’t underestimate Word. It’s not up there with Photoshop but it can do some great things for the average person.
If I’m editing pictures for any reason, I try to use Adobe Photoshop CS6. However, it’s slow and clunky. If I need to do quick editing, I use Adobe Lightroom 4. The other two that I use quite often are Corel PaintShop Pro X5 and Corel Photo-Paint X6. If I need to do something complicated, like wrap a picture around a coffee mug, I’ll use CorelDRAW! X6.
Advice for others? Remember what my wise old grandmother said. I’ll repeat it for you: “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.” The reason is because the human eyes see much more than any camera does, so the camera will not show you what you saw with just one photograph. Use everything at your disposal to create the scene you saw.
Also remember what the painter Edgar Degas said over a hundred years ago: “Art is not what you see but what you make others see.” Photographs and the resulting artwork are yours, no one elses! Make the viewer see what you want them to see!
Q) What would you say influences your choices of subjects when you are out and about? Who or what would be your dream subject, where would it be and how would you shoot it?
A) I usually have specific goals when I go out. I named my company Russel Ray Photos, not Russel Ray Photography. So I’m about the photos, not the photography. I want my pictures to be the best they can be, but I’m more a documentarian or historian capturing the here and now than I am a photographer.
I supposed wildlife is my dream subject, and I’d love to see in the wild many of the animals that I see at the Zoo. So a dream location would be somewhere like Yellowstone National Park, Denali National Park (Alaska), Africa, or Australia. I think those four places have the greatest variety of wildlife.
How would I shoot it? Well, considering that I’m talking about venomous snakes, big bad bears, dangerous big cats, etc., probably from the safety of a Jeep and with a 1200mm lens!
Intrigued? Follow Russel’s blog… you’ll see his favorite subject, Zoey the cool cat along with other interesting tidbits.
Discover Russel’s photos… find treasures to store in your ‘lightbox,’ an exclusive account you construct.