“Eye Catcher - The Life and Work of Vello Muikma”. A Book Launch Estonian Life
Photo: Peeter Põldre
On Wednesday the 28th of September 2016, many gathered together for the Vemu hosted event at Tartu College to celebrate the launch of “Eye Catcher. The Life and Work of Vello Muikma.”
The evening comprised of several speakers, opening with Ellu Maar, the author of the new book “Eye Catcher,” who sent a recorded greeting from Estonia to express her gratitude to the many contributors and sponsors who helped bring this project to fruition.
Consecutive speakers were respective friends, fraternity brothers and past students of Vello Muikma, many of whom shared their memories both on this evening and within the pages of “Eye Catcher”.
As Vello’s students spoke, we learned more about him as a photographer. Past students, Nick Buzcok, Christina Mizur and Derek Andrews each described Vello’s unique ability to capture raw emotion and natural expression on camera.
Candid moments of humour, intrigue, and drama filtered their way through his photography throughout the years, illuminating a conversation between him and his chosen subjects. And as we saw within the pages of “Eye Catcher”, the relaxed nature of his photographic inspiration comes through to someone who may not have seen or heard of his work before. Vello brought an animate quality to advertising imagery, such that it would seem improper to label his work as exclusively ‘commercial.’
Each photograph is technically proficient, with balanced lighting and compositions and it was Vello’s ability to capture a perfect moment with this technical clarity that made his images shine.
Vello served the bright, creative minds of Toronto as a professor of photography at Ontario College of Art and Design. His students, from all levels of interest and ability, were encouraged to seek great emotion in their art. As was spoken so eloquently that night, “Great art is great emotion,” and Vello was able to nurture such expression in each of his students.
Though hearing the memories of Vello’s past students, it became apparent how a great teacher has a lasting effect that is remembered throughout a student’s life as they continue to find their own creative and professional voices.
Even when not explicitly teaching, Vello brought wisdom, happiness, and comfort to those around him as described by the evening’s other speakers: Jaan Meri, Ed Stewart and, Jüri Daniel who were friends of Vello Muikma.
Outside of his career as a teacher and photographer, Vello was a committed member of Korporatsioon Vironia and the Estonian community at large. Not solely for the preservation of Estonian culture, but for the nurturing of values and integrity into the men who participated with him.
Throughout his life, from Estonia and Sweden to Canada, Vello lived out his personal motto: “work hard, play hard.” He put his soul into everything he was and into his diverse life. This was attested to by the warm words spoken about him on the night.
It was a feeling of inspiration that was left after thoughts and memories of Vello Muikma’s life and work were shared. A feeling of inspiration to live life with warmth, humour, hard work, and joyful play. After its successful book launch at Tartu College, it should be considered a great achievement for its many contributors, to have created “Eye Catcher. The Life and Work of Vello Muikma”, as a both a portfolio of a photographer’s images and a collection of memories about the inspiring man behind the lens.