Essence of Earhart

Today we are pleased to present the second of several upcoming guest posts by John Tuckey (the first was "Into the Shadows" if you missed it). If you're not aware, John Tuckey has, in a few short years, built a reputation for high quality monochrome images with a distinctive look heavily influenced by the golden era of Hollywood portraiture. You can read more about John, his work and workshops on his website, Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

I find "inspiration" is one of the most difficult elements of my work to define. But it's also one of the things I'm asked about most often. The easy response is obviously, inspiration can strike at any time. But that suggests it comes along wholesale, fully-formed as a complete concept and I simply add light and click a button to have the perfect shot. Truth is, inspiration tends to whisper its way in as a grain of an idea, sit around for a while gathering momentum and what finally ends up as an image often bears no resemblance at all to what started the process in the first place.

But, there are exceptions and one of mine is Amelia Earhart. Why? A real life adventurer, Earhart's spirit of adventure, sheer charm and idiosyncratic view of the world seem more at home with our own today than in her own time. Which is fascinating in itself, considering the world's most celebrated female aviator has been missing, presumed dead for nearly 75 years.

A quirky beauty with the kind of pragmatic elegance you can't ever really synthesize, Earhart was effortlessly glamorous. But it's not the Hollywood version of the heroine I find mesmerizing. Nice enough job as Hilary Swank did in the 2009 bio-pic "Amelia", you just couldn't really see this pretty 21st century actor having the gumption to jettison all but bare essentials on a Lockheed Electra 10-E to make room for extra fuel. Determination, passion and courage are the essence of Earhart and that's what makes her so endlessly inspiring.

Amelia Earhart
Archive Photo

In 1928, when she was the first woman to fly the Atlantic, three others had already died in the attempt that year alone. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932 (just five days after Lindbergh) and when she landed off-course in a Londonderry field simply said, 'I pulled up in a farmer's backyard'. Her humor, intelligence and astonishing grit made her a best selling author, brilliant raconteur, renowned champion of early Women's Rights and adored international heroine. And in 1937, when she lost radio contact during her ill-fated attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world, the US launched the biggest and most expensive search and rescue mission in naval history. Earhart, her navigator and her plane were never found, a great adventurer was lost and a legend born.

In a final letter to her husband she wrote, "Please know I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it, because I want to do it." Like all true icons, great with an epitaph and an inspiration to the very last.

Inspired by Amelia Earhart by John Tuckey