Born in Milwaukee in 1931, Ray's photographic interests began in his teens. He studied art at Beloit College, Wisconsin. After two years in the army ending in 1956, he enrolled at the Institute of Design in the master's program. He received his degree in 1959 with a thesis consisting of Chicago's downtown. The images were featured in a major one-man exhibition at the Art Institute and some were published later in the Aperture I.D. issue in 1961. In 1959 he met Edward Steichen, who purchased 10 prints for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Metzker has taught at various colleges including the Philadelphia College of Art and the University of New Mexico. Among his many awards are two Guggenheim fellowships in 1966 and 1979 and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in 1974 and 1988. Numerous books have been published on his work and he has exhibited continuously from the beginning. His photographs are in every major institution. Metzker lives in Philadelphia.