Back to the Future, Part I / by Steve Groves

Tick, tock.

It's funny how time is. You can think about one moment in your past, and on one hand it seems like yesterday that you were holding your brand-new, perfect little baby boy in the hospital, and on the other hand—HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO STOP EATING YOUR BOOGERS, EVAN?!?!?!—it can seem like FOR.EVER.

But, regardless of temporal perception, history is how I build my future. I can't read a book more than once. Rarely do I even watch a movie for a second or third time (with the obvious exception of the Back to the Future trilogy. I mean, c'mon, it's the title of this post...) I already know how the story ends, so why waste time repeating something when there are so many other things out there to experience? I don't like repetition (how I became a musician is beyond me!). Been there, done that. But maybe, just maybe I can find a new perspective to shoot the Pittsburgh skyline from that you don't often see. Maybe I can find a band that I like better than Journey...(Doubtful. I've hit critical mass there, but one can dream, right? I will say that I'm currently quite interested in the new Gioeli-Castronovo album, Set the World on Fire.)

I'm writing this now because, this coming Saturday, I will be returning to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, PA to shoot the Westmoreland County Airshow for the second year in a row. What did I learn last year? Will my shots turn out better this year? Will this be just another repetition, or will it be different enough to stand on its own? That's what I love about event photography—you can prepare all you want, but you can't know the future. You can only know the past, and make predictions based on your historical successes and failures. And that, right there, is what makes repetition bearable—variability.

Below, I've included some of my favorite shots from last year's airshow featuring the Navy's Blue Angels. This year, the Air Force will be represented by their Thunderbirds. Right off the bat, the planes are a completely different color and will interact differently with whatever clouds or clear skies we may be in for. Not to mention that the tone variance from Blue Angel to Thunderbird is so stark. Who knows how this year's shots will turn out? Maybe there is something to this "repetition," after all...

Maybe you already took the hint, maybe you didn't, but in case you weren't thinking fourth-dimensionally, the title of this blog post is sort of a spoiler alert in and of itself. I plan to post a follow-up blog after this weekend with photos of this year's show. I'm not big on comparisons—I mainly just care that I'm doing the best I can do at any given moment, but who knows? Maybe I'll come away with the shot of a lifetime. Maybe I won't. Probably the latter. Either way, it will become a historical experience that I can build on.