How Did I Get Here? / by Steve Groves

My trumpet.

Those of you who know me know that I am first and foremost a musician. At least, that's what I set out to be. My mom started my musical training in our kitchen, teaching me how to read music and play the clarinet. I quickly dropped the clarinet, my interests changing to align more with the trumpet. So, out the door went all the honking and squeaking and relentless reed replacing. All of that was supplanted by blatting, squealing, and blaring and relentless valve oil replacing.

Tom Scholz of Boston

As I got a little older, I discovered the band Boston (who I would later see up close at Stage AE and shoot a decent photo of Tom Scholz with my cell phone). When I found out that the majority of that album consisted of overdubbed tracks featuring basically two people, I instantly became infatuated with the recording process. I would spend hours in our music room "multitracking" myself singing or playing guitar or keyboard using the "mix paste" function in the crappy recording software that was built into Windows 95.

These things led me to the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University, where I ultimately got two degrees in music—a Bachelor of Music in Music Technology and a Master of Music in Composition—and where I would eventually end up working. I finished my degrees in 2006 and did what any aspiring musician does when they graduate college–go to work in retail. I worked for Borders for several years, doing everything from cash registers to payroll.

The Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University

When I returned to Duquesne to work in 2011, I was handed a DSLR and told that I could photograph our concerts and events as part of my new job. Now, I've always been around cameras to some degree. My dad and uncle both always had some sort of camera at family events, and I'd occasionally used a point and shoot or something. This was a different animal, altogether, though. I had a decent camera and something to shoot. Over and over and over. And the funny thing is that, unlike practicing the trumpet, practicing taking pictures never got old. I doubt my mom would have ever had to confine me to my room until I'd taken half an hour worth of pictures. (Whatever that means...)

But now I was armed with sixteen years of musical training and knowledge and a good camera. See where I'm headed yet? That's right—my history and training were sculpting a new passion of blended artistic mediums, and in the process, I was meeting the people that I needed to network and build my own identity. 

Steve Augeri, former lead singer of Journey

Eventually, I would get opportunities to photograph some pretty big-name musicians. I've photographed members of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, world-renowned classical artists, Indie bands, blues/rock bands, and I even had an opportunity to shoot Steve Augeri, former lead singer for Journey!

I like to think that I let the things that I want to do inform all the other things that I want to do. It's pretty apparent that music informs my photography, but it's sort of a way of life for me. Call it "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none" if you want–I think everything that I learn makes me that much more well-rounded and, I hope, better at whatever it is that I've set out to do.


Here I am, 36. In a band of my own. Have a day job and a family. Shoot photos on the side. Yeah, you could say I'm busy. But I love it. And I wouldn't have it any other way.




Some of my current projects:

Abandoned Evan

I had a silly idea one day. What if I took pictures of my infant without anyone else in the frame? What if we "abandoned Evan?" One silly picture of him alone in his stroller has turned into a whole series with its own dedicated Instagram account. And Evan will have a record of all the times Mommy and Daddy left him all alone in strange places.


25 MPH

Shooting in my neighborhood, I found a particular alley to be rather photogenic. Took some shots, posted one. Few days later, shot another photo in a different neighborhood. Completely different, but I noticed both featured (unintentionally) 25 MPH speed limit signs. Now you know.


Numbers In the Wild

A riff on the 25 MPH project, I noticed that there are WAY more instances of numbers in public places than anyone ever really notices. This project is about those numbers. I try to stay away from things like mailbox numbers or house numbers, since those are obvious. It's those numbers you didn't even know were there!