Heinrich Tiidermann’s Gift to Estonia 120 years later

February 10, 2019

By the end of 2017, we were on the eve of Estonia’s centenary, and there was a call by EV100 for Estonians and friends to celebrate “in any manner that you see fit”. Taavi Siitam really liked the openness of this invitation, but wondered how he, a second generation Canadian, could contribute. Then, he recalled an old photo album passed between Siitam family members over the years and hearing his elders say things like: “These are special photographs…. He’s a famous photographer… Oh, how wonderful!” After locating it, he learned it was an album made up entirely of original photographs taken by the legendary Estonian photographer, Heinrich Tiidermann. Tiidermann was one of the pillars of early Estonian photography. That’s when light bulb went on.

Taavi thought “I think my third, great-grand uncle, Heinrich Tiidermann, took his photographs of the Estonian people, folk culture and landscapes, 120 or so years ago, with the purpose of them being shared on an occasion like the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Estonia”. With the help of VEMU in Toronto, the album was digitized, thus preserving the deteriorating images, but also allowing them to more accessible.

In February 2018, Taavi began posting images from the Tiidermann album on a weekly basis on Instagram. “Many of Tiidermann’s photos can be seen in photography museums in Estonia. Where I hope this project can add value is by providing zoomed-in close-ups of areas of a photo that show details never seen before – in faces, clothes, items held in hands.”

His one-year EV100 project ends in February, but it has provided countless people the pleasure to see some amazing and rare images from pre-Republic Estonia. With satisfaction, he adds “The legacy of this project is that Tiidermann’s images and these ‘new’ close-ups are out there now – for anyone to see, at anytime. Documenting the Estonian folk culture is the gift that Tiidermann wanted to give to his people… Giving his photos a modern platform, at such a time, is my small gift to him.”

Visit the heinrichtiideman.EV100 project at: