Helsinki Humanizes Public Transportation With a Beautiful Photo Project

Skift Take

We’d love to see similar projects done by cities around the world, and then have them use the participants’ stories and suggestions to make public transportation a little better every year.

— Samantha Shankman

Behind every transit card swipe is a person taking an early train to the gym, a late bus home from work, or a ferry ride to a new part of town. Most cities are focused on making their transportation systems more efficient and their fares affordable for locals, but how many take the time to explore the people and stories behind each mundane swipe?

Helsinki’s transportation agency Helsinki Region Transport did that late last year when, on the cusp of reaching 1 million daily riders, it teamed up with creative agency 358 and photographer Lauri Eriksson to take intimate pictures of local transit riders. The Faces of Public Transport photography project can now be seen online and at a physical exhibition that will open later this month.

“We started to think about who our customers are, what they really want from us, and what they expect of public transport. From there the idea was born that we would like to do a campaign that focused on our own customers,” says HSL director of communications Mari Flink.

“We want to tell them that they really are the most important thing.”

Eriksson says it was easier than he expected to get transit riders to agree to the photographs as well as open up in front of the camera. The project also includes several vignettes on individuals.

For more details on the photography project, watch the behind-the-scenes video below:

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