A bit more about me and a self portrait...

When you go onto a photographer's portfolio and look at their "about me" section, most people want a quick, brief bio to get an idea of who this photographer really is (and maybe see if they're capable of proof reading!). However, maybe you're narrowing down your search for the perfect photographer and want to know a bit more before taking the plunge and using that contact form? After all, you could potentially be spending a whole day around this person! If that's the case, this is the blog post for you...

  So to bring it back to basics for a second, I'm Andrew McCombie - although the surname may indicate otherwise, I grew up in Wiltshire. There, I started taking pictures - first with a film camera I got my hands on when I was around 4 or 5 (bad idea on my Grandma's part there - got through the whole roll of film in no time!), then onto point and shoots in my teens. Back then any form of manual control on these cameras was incredibly rare and I that's exactly what I wanted, so eventually my parents bought me a Canon 30D for my birthday - at last, full control! This was the gateway, at this point I wouldn't say I was just taking pictures, I was officially starting photography. This camera was great, it got me into landscapes and portraits and the majority of what I've learned outside studio-based work was on that camera. I'll include a few shots below taken on it, maybe alongside some taken on the point and shoots too.

  At this time I was still in 6th form, I didn't have that much time to dedicate to photography and I was preparing to go to university - that seemed to be the go-to route in life, you go to 6th form, you go to university and get a degree, and then you get a graduate job. So my chosen degree path was geology. Geology rocks (not asking for forgiveness on that one), it meant a lot of time outdoors, the science behind it is awesome, and I ended up at the University of Southampton (my first choice, amazingly). University was, quite frankly, a bit of a disappointment, on the academic side at least. On the other hand however, it did involve some great field trips - some of which you may have seen photos from in my portfolio. On top of that I landed an unofficial and then official job as a photographer. By now the Canon 30D had partially bit the dust (began getting the infamous error99), and I'd moved onto a Canon 70D - this was just before the 7D MkII came out and the line between the 70D and the 7D was very thin and, in the end, I thought the 70D came out on top.

  My first job was the unofficial photographer for the Southampton Quidditch Club, photographing events for them from taster sessions to tournaments. The captain of the club then moved on to become lead of media at QuidditchUK, the governing body for Quidditch in the UK (in case that wasn't obvious). A position came up for lead photographer for the southern region, and I was asked to apply, and apply I did, and get the job I did! In the end, quidditch got three tournaments and several other smaller events under my belt alongside work outside of quidditch from people I'd met through quidditch. In the end, although sports photography probably wasn't what I wanted to get into full-time, it gave me a great taste for working as a photographer and I loved it. Despite the intense rain that came down for half the day for each of those tournaments...

  What have I been working on since, you ask? Expanding my portfolio - I've been learning more about studio-based strobe work, portraits, and product photography. I'm actually still at university so fitting in a lot of photography work can be a bit tough but I'm getting there and taking on small jobs when I can. At the moment I'm also booked for my first wedding next year!

  I hope this gives you a good idea about me - I may not be the most experienced photographer but those I have worked for have been incredibly happy with my work, and my prices are going to reflect that level of experience. That's not to say, however, that I don't know what I'm doing - someone once said that there are three levels of photographer, and they are reflected in what question you'd ask a photographer you come across at an event - "What camera are you using?", "What lens are you using?", "How are you dealing with this light?". I'm at that third stage, at the end of the day that's what photography is - capturing light - and I hope to at least be on the way to mastering that art, while making people happy at the same time!

                                              My only wish now is that this didn't come across as arrogant...

 

Anyway, moving onto my latest project - a proper portrait of myself! One problem being the photographer is you never really get any photos of yourself, being the one behind the camera rather than in front. The plan was to use the built-in Wifi in-camera but this kept disconnecting, so onto the old fashioned self timer it is! For this portrait I used two flashes in softboxes, triggered using a wireless trigger, with one being used as the main light while the one on the other side was used as a fill light. Here's a picture of the setup:

As you can see, a little on the compact side in our flat, but there's just enough blank wall and space to use for portraits! It took several attempts to get right - not because of the camera side of things, rather the subject side! Finding the right pose that looks friendly but not gormless and in frame was harder than I'd thought! In the end this is the one I ended up with, and the final result after some post-processing in Adobe Lightroom: