Travel Estonia. Fotografiska - The Power of Photography

Updated: July 2023. 

You find Fotografiska, a photographic art centre, in Telliskivi Creative City. This is the creative hub of Tallinn, created by entrepreneurs, artisans and designers. Designs, food and wares are offered in small shops housed in revamped industrial buildings. We live in different times now; factories usually aren't of much use anymore. It is a delight to see when towns, investors, and architects honour the past while creating a future with new life in old derelict industrial sites.

Design bookshop in white colours. Cafe in light grey colours. Entrance door.

Some people have a vision. This place is all about that. Fotografiska is a place where a dream became a reality. The centre was created by Estonian entrepreneurs, the founders of Fotografiska Tallinn are Maarja Loorents and Margit Aasmäe. They brought Fotografiska, a form of a franchise model, to Estonia. Fotografiska International was founded by brothers Jan and Per Broman in Stockholm in Sweden. Fotografiska Stockholm, housed in the red brick Art Nouveau Stora Tullhuset, sits directly on Stockholms harbour. The brand offers the opportunity to present international exhibitions. 
The Red House, a red cubic building designed by Estonian architects Salto and interior designer Toomas Korb is a piece of art by itself. On entering the foyer, you stand in this wide-open space. I see this as a modern version of an ancient Agora. There are the ticket counter, Fotografiska Tallinn’s very own design shop and the café. This airy foyer space decorated in light grey and white is aesthetically pleasing. The boldness of the entrance is intriguing, and one craves to discover what is on offer in the exhibition halls the moment you enter.

Fotografiska Tallinn - Estonia’s leading Photography Art Centre

Fotografiska Tallinn is Estonia’s leading photography art centre where photography, design, sustainable food, and music come together in one space. Fotografiska is more or less open 24/7, not true, it is open seven days a week, from 9am to 11pm and at times even until 1am. Everyone is welcome here; it is all about inclusiveness and open-mindedness. This is a place for everyone, no matter how young or how old you are, no matter the colour of your skin, no matter whether you are a local or a visitor to Estonia. Fotografiska Tallinn invites everyone to join them on their photography journey. It is a space for the curious at heart, and for all the ones who want to become more curious and start to ask questions about the world around them. Fotografiska aims to reach as many people as possible, they want to make visitors feel welcomed. Fotografiska wants to inspire and tell exciting stories with ever-changing exhibitions from local and international artists and photographers.

The Power of Photography - Fotografiska

It is not always the photography that plays the main character in an exhibition. Many photographers aim to attract visitors with the beauty of their work, and once they catch the visitor’s interest, they transport their message. The world faces some serious issues, and what better place than to learn about it in a playful way in an art exhibition.

On my visit, I instantly fall in love with the architecture of the place. I enjoy the shown photography and lose myself in the stories that are told. This is one of these places you want to tell the world about. I did not expect a photography centre of this quality in a small country like Estonia. Not at all. Not only that, you wouldn’t find this type of photography art centre in neither Vilnius in Lithuania, Riga in Latvia nor in Helsinki in Finland.

Strolling through the different exhibition halls you will experience a wide range of feelings in each individual one. I can imagine that even visitors whose biggest love is not photography will be happy here. The power of photography and the diverse storytelling literally draws you in. Exhibitions change frequently. Fotografiska Tallinn is an ideal place to make it a habit to visit with a group of friends once a month. This is so much better than watching Netflix as get together activity. One can have drinks in the café, visit the exhibition halls and discuss the art over dinner in the restaurant that sits on the top of Fotografiska Tallinn.

Fotografiska Tallinn Restaurant - Zero-waste and Vegetarian-friendly

The Zero-waste vegetarian-friendly rooftop restaurant, run by Estonian Chef Peeter Pihel offers an amazing view over Tallinn. Best to book in advance. On a little tour through the restaurant, I learn that only minimal food waste is generated while cooking, and what is left will be turned into compost. The compost gets delivered to the farmers who provide ingredients for the restaurant. Flower boxes were made from an old church tower's tin sheets. Bread trays are made from used oven plates. The restaurant aims to follow sustainable principles in everything they do. So inspiring, and a further topic to discuss over dinner or lunch. Fotografiska Tallinn Restaurant. Hours: Lunch 12pm to 3.30pm. Drinks and snacks 3.30pm to 6pm. Dinner 6pm to 11pm. Phone +372 57450922.

Restaurant in light grey tunes, a waiter serving guests.Sofas and armchairs in grey and yellow in front of a shelf with wine bottles.A concrete staircase.

Exhibition “Wonderland” by Kirsty Mitchell

"Mitchell embarked on the intensive 5-year project in the summer of 2009, a few months after her mother had tragically died of cancer in 2008. It became her escape from a painful reality as she sought her way back to the fairy tale world they shared throughout her childhood. In the woods around her home, the characters from Mitchell's imagination were given free roam in front of the camera." Please visit Kirsty Mitchell's website for more information and to buy her book and other artworks. Please note that all of the following images are photos taken of the photos seen at the exhibition 'Wonderland' at Fotografiska Tallinn. Keep in mind that exhibitions at Fotografiska Tallinn change frequently.

A fairy-tale blonde woman decorated with book pages and butterflies, wearing red lipstick and nailpolish.

A blonde woman in a white dress on a sunny day, dancing through the meadows in a forest.

Kirsty Mitchell Photography

A blonde woman with striking blue eyes, dressed in a light purple dress, decorated with purple flowers, lying flat on her back in the purple heath.

A blonde woman dressed in a romantic flowery dress and overcoat, her bright yellow footsteps show in the deep white snow.

A blonde woman dressed in a romantic flowery dress and overcoat, her bright yellow footsteps show in the deep white snow. She walks towards a brown stone cottage in the forest.

Fairy-tale blonde woman dressed in a flowery dress holding a key to a large ornamented wooden door.

A blonde woman in a long yellow dress next to a yellow wooden boat in the midst of a thick forest.
Photo of Kirsty Mitchell photography at fotografiska in Tallinn

Exhibition 'Sea of Artifacts' by Mandy Barker

“I see my role as an interpreter, to be aware of the facts about the harmful effects of marine plastics, to understand the facts and to present them in an accessible way, and through the research and my work, help to connect the science to a wider audience, and hopefully in some way change things for the better." Please visit Mandy Barker’s website for more information and to buy her book. Please note that all of the following images are photos taken of the photos seen at the exhibition 'Sea of Artifacts' at Fotografiska Tallinn. Keep in mind that exhibitions at Fotografiska Tallinin change frequently.

Hundreds of colourfull broken plastic dolls in front of black canvas.

Hundreds of broken colourfull plastic lids in front of a black canvas.

Hundreds of broken blue plastic turtles in front of a black canvas.

Hundreds of broken colourfull plastic soccer balls in front of a black canvas.

Hundreds of broken white plastic pieces in front of black canvas.

Information Fotografiska. Telliskivi 60a/8, 10412 Tallinn, Estonia. Fotografiska Tallinn is open seven days a week from 10am to 11pm please check the website for detailed information). Tickets: Adults EUR 14. Family EUR 28. Children of up to 12 years of age free. Top tip: Get a membership card. Exhibitions change every few weeks. Whereby exhibition rooms get the complete makeover within a few days. It can happen that when you visit one week it will be the work of a different photo artist on offer only one week later.

If you can’t visit Fotografiska in Tallinn just yet, you can visit the one in Stockholm in Sweden and in New York City. Plans to open Fotografiska in Berlin are underway. I have been told they open their doors to the public in the very near future.

In case you visit Tallinn in winter, see whether the Tallinn Christmas market is on. Read Travel Estonia – Visit the Tallinn Christmas Market on The Touristin.

From Berlin with love