You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Travel Top Stories

24 photos that show what flight attendants do when passengers aren't looking

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 11/10/2017 Talia Lakritz

Flight attendants virgin molly choma © Provided by Business Insider Inc Flight attendants virgin molly choma

When Virgin Airlines flight attendant Molly Choma finds herself with a free moment on flights, she grabs her camera.

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.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

She studied graphic design and graduated college with an art degree in 2008.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

When she had difficulty finding a job after school, her mum suggested becoming a flight attendant.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

For the first few months of the job, she was on 'reserve,' waiting at the airport to be assigned to a flight.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

She began taking photos at the airport to pass the time.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

SA agents began recognising her as 'the girl with the camera.'

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

As her passion for photography grew, she wanted to find models to build her portfolio.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'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.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Then it hit her: she could photograph her fellow Virgin Airlines flight attendants.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'It turned into this fun thing to do that wasn't serving drinks,' she said of their impromptu photoshoots.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Choma sticks to photographing Virgin Airlines staff and not passengers.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'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.'

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Some snapshots of her colleagues are posed, but her favourites capture candid moments.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'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.'

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Aside from limited space, the lighting on planes isn't always ideal for photography.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Choma isn't above using tin foil from first class trays to reflect light on people's faces.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'And when you're shooting in low light, your shutter is open for longer, so turbulence is the worst,' she said.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Choma flies about 70 to 100 hours a month and works with different teams of flight attendants for three days at a time.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'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.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

She enjoys the wide range of people that she encounters on the job.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'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.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Virgin Airlines was recently bought out by Alaska Airlines, so her series also preserves the culture of Virgin's planes and people for posterity.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

Her ultimate goal, though, is for her photos to help people see themselves in a new way.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

'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.

© Provided by Business Insider Inc

This article originally appeared at INSIDER. Follow INSIDER on Facebook. Copyright 2017. Follow INSIDER on Twitter.

More from Business Insider Australia

Business Insider Australia
Business Insider Australia
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon