Brian Finke spent two years of his life, flying around the world, photographing uniformed flight attendants.

He crisscrossed the United States making photographs on Delta, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Hooters Air, Southwest, and Song airlines before going abroad with such carriers as Air France, Qantas, and British Airways. In London, Finke visited a flight attendant school complete with emergency rafts and billowing smoke. And then, continuing east, he traveled Air Asia, Thai, Tiger, ANA, Japan, and Cathay Pacific. He finished his globe-trotting with Icelandair.

“Finke’s approach in photographing Flight Attendants is neither nostalgic nor unduly real,” writes Alix Browne in his introduction to Finke's book. “We catch these women in their choreographed moments, familiar to the point of being generic — demonstrating safety procedures, smiling and waving as if in an advertisement. 

“If, on occasion, a particular image comes across as slightly surreal — and here the photo of an Icelandair flight attendant in training, perfectly composed and not a platinum blonde hair out of place as she blasts a fire extinguisher at an overhead bin comes to mind — it is perhaps because no matter how commonplace the experience air travel has become, flying is still something that inspires a certain degree of awe. 

“It is as if we — and they — only exist in that unnatural vacuum-sealed experience, where even as you find yourself hurtling through the sky 36,000 feet above the earth at 600 miles an hour, time seems to stand perfectly still.”