About the Photographer
Peeter Tooming was a photographer and filmmaker who emphasized personal artistic expression and the subjectivity of the frame over objective documentation. As evident in his work and extensive writings on photography, he believed that the manipulation of optical and chemical techniques--such as the use of infrared film, camera filters, and experimenting with photochemistry--were integral to developing a subjective visual language in photography and understanding modernist image space as independent of real space and everyday experience. In his words, “A photographer has the right to make use of the most diverse means for expressing his thoughts and feelings. An artistic photo is not only the recording of a fact but also one of the forms of expression of an artist.” Tooming was the ideologist of the STODOM photography group in Estonia, which included the photographers Rein Maran, Andrei Dobrovolski, Kalju Suur, Tatjana Dobrovolskaja and Boris Mäemets. Founded in 1964, STODOM championed Tooming’s views on subjectivity and expression in photography and exerted a significant influence on Estonian photography.
Peeter Tooming studied journalism at Tartu State University in Estonia from 1968 to 1974. He was active as a filmmaker between 1961 and 1994, becoming a member of the Society of Cinematographers of the USSR and the director of photography at Tallinnfilm Film Studio in Estonia in 1963. Among documentary films to his credit is Moments (1976), which deals with the development of photography in Estonia from 1850 to 1970. Monographs of Tooming’s photography include Fotolood (Photostories) (1979), Rakvere (1976), 25 Photos by P. Tooming (1976). Near the end of his life, Tooming’s battle with lateral sclerosis was the subject of the documentary Peeter by George Sillart.