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Undercover work in the world of logistics

Mari Hirsikallio photographs containersMari Hirsikallio has been photographing ships for years nowMari Hirsikallio has photos of containers of different colors and sizes

First Mari Hirsikallio spotted ships she had photographed, then she got interested in the containers they were carrying. Her interest became a hobby, resulting in a virtual collection of containers from different parts of the world.

Blue containers, yellow containers, refrigerated containers (reefers), tanks - the blog written by Mari Hirsikallio has photos of containers of different colors and sizes but above all, containers produced by different companies.
“I was taking photos of ships and noticed that the containers were made by various manufacturers. One thing led to another and I started container-spotting on land and at sea,” Mari recalls.

Mari photographs containers and then works out their manufacturers. The hobby’s appeal is partly exactly that - finding out the background of the containers.
“When you find a container, the combination of letters on its side does not tell you anything at that stage, but when you start hunting on the Internet, the marking reveals a whole world of information: routes, who is transporting it and what maybe inside the container. For example if you see a Dutch reefer, there’s a strong chance that it is to do with flowers. You can get hooked on checking out the background information.”

Mari, who has lived near the sea and ports all her life, has been photographing ships for years now.
“I guess it stems from the fact that I was taken to an island for the first time at the age of six months. Very often my brother and I used to shout from the shore that a ship was coming,” she laughs.

Excursions to harbors

Head of a primary school, Mari is also known amongst her pupils for her photography. It is a big and important part of her life.
“Photography is an interesting way of being able to show others the world the way you see it. If two people take a photo from the same place, the pictures are seldom the same. Likewise if I bring out a photo of a container, I can point out details that someone else may not even notice.”

Containing collecting began three years ago. So far around sixty containers have appeared on Mari’s blog.
“There are not so many container manufacturers. I’ve already found the obvious ones, now I’ll have to do a little work to find the next ones. For example you can’t always get photos of tank containers, because ports are secure areas.”

Mari’s pastime is helped by the fact that she lives near the border between Finland and Russia.
“A lot of containers are transported by road around here and a lot of goods are transported through the Port of HaminaKotka.” The hobby has got into Mari’s blood to the extent that her vacations also turn into spotting trips.
“When we travel abroad, an excursion may take us to some port. Perhaps our path doesn’t lead us to the normal tourist destinations, and my husband is not in the least surprised if we wind up hanging around a port somewhere.”

Collecting genes in the family?

Collecting in virtual form suits Mari down to the ground.
“Virtual collecting is a better option than for instance having the place full of garden gnomes! My mother collects statuettes of Santa Claus, and so I guess that has pushed me to the virtual side, since I’ve been looking at Santas and elves for 12 months a year!”

Container spotting could be regarded as special. Mari herself has only found two other container spotters: one at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium and the other somewhere in Japan. There are also people who build scale models of containers.

Mari says that, whatever your hobby may be, the essential thing is that you find it rewarding. “I read somewhere about the things that people spot – power lines or long-distance buses. There’s nothing that can’t be spotted. I considered myself to be a little wacky at some stage, but when I read that someone spots power lines, I realized that this is actually quite normal,” Mari laughs.

You can read Mari Hirsikallio’s blog at kameravenekontit.blogspot.fi.

TEXT: SARI LOMMERSE PHOTOS: MARI HIRSIKALLIO

Mari Hirsikallio
Mari Hirsikallio
Photography is an interesting way of being able to show others the world the way you see it.