The INSIDER Summary:
- Molly Choma is a Virgin Airlines flight attendant and photographer.
- She takes pictures of her fellow flight attendants in their downtime for a series called “The Secret Life of Virgins.”
- Photography can be difficult in a plane’s small spaces and low lighting.
- She hopes her photos instill confidence in her subjects.
Her photo series, “The Secret Life of Virgins,” shows a side of flight attendants that passengers don’t usually see, highlighting their camaraderie, humour, and how they spend their downtime.
INSIDER spoke to Choma about how she combines flying and photography.
Molly Choma's mum was a flight attendant and always kept a camera around, which Choma would tinker with growing up.
For the first few months of the job, she was on 'reserve,' waiting at the airport to be assigned to a flight.
'I was thinking 'Where can I find a bunch of really attractive people that won't charge me to take photos of them?'' she said.
'It turned into this fun thing to do that wasn't serving drinks,' she said of their impromptu photoshoots.
'The highest priority is doing our jobs and making sure people are safe and happy and secure,' she said. 'But there can be a lot of downtime.'
'The posed ones are sort of a way to start the candid process, to warm them up to a camera being in their face,' she said. 'Because it's literally in their face, there's not a lot of space.'
'And when you're shooting in low light, your shutter is open for longer, so turbulence is the worst,' she said.
Choma flies about 70 to 100 hours a month and works with different teams of flight attendants for three days at a time.
'I have three days with each group of people to build that trust and build their confidence, and make it more of a fun positive memory of their job, too. Not just something for me to have, but also for them to have, and for their kids to have,' she said.
'There's such a spectrum of people who you work with, and getting to know people's personalities, and how they react to having a camera around inspires me as a photographer,' she said.
Virgin Airlines was recently bought out by Alaska Airlines, so her series also preserves the culture of Virgin's planes and people for posterity.
'Learning how to take a photo of someone in a way that builds their confidence in themselves ... that's the biggest motivation for me,' she said.
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