If you enjoy taking portraits, it's good to understand the best lighting situations that are most flattering for people. First off, if you can get comfortable with your camera, enough to shoot in Manual mode, you'll have some great options for taking great people photographs. Think of taking images without the use of your flash. If you have a good lens that opens to at least a 2.8 f-stop (or aperture) it will help you take some beautiful outdoor images of people without the harsh light of using flash. A lens that only opens up to 4 or 4.5 or 5.6 f-stop will work, just not as beautifully. And first and foremost people photograph most beautifully outdoors on an overcast or cloudy day. Think of how sunshine creates very dark shadows. They are unattractive on peoples face. To see a dark shadow under the eyes, nose and chin, no dice!
An overcast is like a giant natural lightbox in the sky that provide soft, diffused, even light on your subjects and allows you to play to your hearts desire, no matter where you move and which way the subject is facing! So, try taking a few images with a 2.8 f-stop and change your shutter speed around until you get an exposure that looks good and that you like. And the nice thing about a 2.8 f-stop is that it will 'blur' out the background (ie. 2.8 f-stop provides a shallow depth-of-field)and just make it a nice compliment of shapes and colors behind your subject so you can focus on their face, smile, body pose etc....Try this technique and let me know your results!