Not so long ago, freight transportation equipment barely rated a second glance from anyone outside the industry. But now, images of trains, planes, and ocean containers are turning up in some unexpected places.
For instance, the November 2009 issue of the style and home magazine Real Simple included a photo of a small boy playing with a toy train, with a line of hopper cars crossing the stunning Utah landscape in the background. (Mom Justine Kurland is an art photographer who documented trains and modern-day hobos in her new book, This Train is Bound for Glory.)
Then there's the recent wave of ocean shipping-themed advertising —nothing says "international trade" like a dock piled high with ocean containers, it seems. Racing through an airport not long ago, we were stopped in our tracks by a software advertisement featuring a giant illuminated photo of a busy container terminal. SAP, IBM, and Microsoft have used similar images to convey their international expertise.
Freight transportation even turned up in a recent Boston Globe article about an archaeological dig in Egypt. In late December, Boston University archaeologist Kathryn Bard and colleagues discovered a cache of shipping supplies at Wadi Gawasis, including cargo seals and a shipping crate marked with "the ancestor of the modern package label" —hieroglyphics identifying the contents.
Most surprising of all: Big rigs, apparently, are cool. Teen Vogue magazine has been offering a cosmetic bag featuring colorful, cartoonish depictions of all kinds of trucks as an incentive for subscription renewals. Who knew that trucks were "fashion-forward" and "playfully chic"?