Navigating to the Next Normal

Photos by Still Photographer Tom Griscom

August 21, 2020
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David Bowie’s classic song, “Space Oddity,” reportedly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, related the experiences of Major Tom, a fictional space traveler, who found himself “floating ’round my tin can, far above the moon. Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.” Reporting later to a Ground Control (he may never see again), Major Tom says, “the stars look very different today.”

These descriptive lyrics capture a surreal time when, like Major Tom, we’ve all found ourselves floating, far from our “Ground Control.” A killer virus with no vaccine has halted the world, uncovering pre-existing weaknesses in society and humankind.

As a photographer, my response has been to check in with creative people, who typically are engaged in storytelling in visual ways, and are now, like us all, “stopped in time.” These snapshots are a personal document of these strange times, as each creator has identified new outlets of expression; projects put on hold were rekindled, or something completely new sprang to life. In most examples, family has become everything.

What these images show is that while the absence of large sets and movie shoots have been delayed, telling creative narratives has not. Some are documenting protests while others have become avid about fitness. Helping others has become a big part of many of their lives, whether it is physical training or making masks.

These skilled professionals all love what they do, sharing their talents on projects that entertain, educate, and interpret life. They know that when the world is “safe” again, whatever that means, “it will never be the same – and neither will they.”

We all are so very tired of Zoom interactions, and yet these subjects have been able to participate in creative workshops with highly trained industry professionals. Ironically, “social distancing” in the virtual world has brought them closer to friends, family, and even new connections. So take this journey with me through the lives of these Georgia-based Local 600 members, who are, like us all, still “floating ‘around the moon, somewhere,”  waiting, hoping, and still creating – until Ground Control comes back into view. I hope these images confirm what we all already know:

Whether it’s in a pandemic – or on a set. We’re in this together.

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