About me


Thanks for making it to this small page of my big world! If you came here looking for somebody, who can take photos, you have come to the right place. I promise I will not let you down, as photography is something I love and have been connected to since 1993. This page may look like it hasn't been updated for a while, but I always edit the about page, so scroll down and check if there are any latest news. Please check my recent black and white works through my Instagram page

For those, who still take photos on film, please do contact me, or even better if you would like me to take photos of you, your event or your surrounding to a film - it would be my pleasure. Black and white traditional photography has always been important to me because this is something I do with my own mind and hands from the beginning to the end. You simply can't create the feeling of film with any artificial filters. Give it a try!

If you wish to learn photography, instead of being photographer, please aske from me about my many photography courses, including Adobe Photoshop, Camera RAW or even how to be successful using Instagram. I am available to teach in English and Estonian, for a personal or a group class, in your home or place we both agree on.

I am currently in Berlin, but visit often Estonia, but wherever you are, do not hesitate to drop me a line and request a shoot, please. My skills would became to you most handy at shooting events, candid portraits and people in their own environment. I do not want to intrude, but I want to explore, so we all can stay in our natural state and therefore look excellent later on the photos!

My work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and web sites. Mostly, I have taken photos for the online magazine Femme.ee and promotional photos of Tartu, Estonia. These jobs have honed my people skills, and have taught me how to use light the best way. I specialize as a contract photographer, shooting events, portraits, wedding and cycling photography.

I have had few personal and group exhibitions and have won some photography competitions.

I graduated from University of Tartu in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in geography.

I am open for photographic offers, please be free with your ideas while contacting me at kerly[at]kerlyilves.com

LATEST NEWS updated on 20/6/2019

I am pleased to inform that the XII Global Estonian Cultural Festival ESTO is taking place after a long time. This year the events take place in Helsinki, Finland, Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia. Read here more what the FESTIVAL is about.

I will have two exhibitions up during the festival. One in Tartu and the other in Tallinn. I have taken lots of photos in Toronto, Canada showing the Canadian Estonians and therefore I am really proud that my photos of them can be presented during this wonderful festival. The first exhibition to open in Tartu is brand new and very colorful, a long time project to finally come real. I took the portraits of Canadian-Estonians in 2014 and just this year the whole project culminated with a wonderful LED-framed exhibition. The second one, also a portrait exhibition, but black and white has previously displayed once in Tartu, Estonia, but now can be reached to a wider audience in Tallinn for just a week.

During the ESTO 2019 week in the Green Hall of Telliskivi Loomelinnak is displayed a portrait photography exhibition “Canadian Estonians - In light and shadow”, which introduces people with Estonian roots living in Toronto. I met with the Estonians born in Canada, those who recently immigrated there or had to flee their native Estonia to a new country. I conducted interviews with Estonians living abroad, took their portraits and photographed items that describe their essence the best.

The exhibition displays 13 high-quality black and white portraits, which were able to reach the viewers due to immense help from VEMU - Museum of Estonians Abroad. Thanks to the funding of the institution, the lives of the Estonians from the other side of the world, most of whom had to immigrate to Canada, can be seen by Estonians in Estonia.

The idea of the exhibition emerged to me during my first visit to Canada. While living in Toronto, I got to know an enormous Estonian community and I met many interesting people, whose achievements made me think of an exhibition. I was truly surprised by how many Estonians one can find in the big North American city.

NB! “Canadian Estonians - In light and shadow” is a pop-up exhibition, as it is open just for a week, so if you have any interest to see it, then please plan your visit in ahead, as it can be viewed only from 29th of June until 7th of July, every day from 11 AM - 6 PM. Entrance is free! The descriptions of the photographs are in Estonian, but I would gladly help to translate it to English if you contat me via my e-mail.

A distinctive portrait photo exhibition “Toronto Foreign Estonians and Estonian National Museum. Contact with Estonia” shows the attachment, pride and commitment of Canadian Estonians to Estonia, and introducing the essence of Canadian Estonians to Estonians through photographs, wishing to broaden their world view of foreigners and immigrants living abroad.

Presented are 13 colour photos in unique LED light-sheet frames. Because of a special technique used to print the photos, the photos feel almost real, when a light is projected behind them. This is what makes the exhibition so unique.

Exhibition is FREE and open from 11th of June until 7th of July, 2019, Tuesday to Sunday 10-18 at Estonian National Museum.

On 29th of June at 1 PM, Riina Kindlam - the child of refugees and a former expat, presents in Aliise Moora auditorium a lecture "Far Estonians need a parent tree". Lecture is in Estonian.

This exhibition is possible because of my ever so supportive family.


I am glad I was able to put my skills to use, while taking photos as a volunteer in two amazing events. First took place at Montessori Mother Berlin. and was a open house. Second took place in Panke e.V. and was Berlin Clothing Swap. Both of these events offered a great chance for me to practice my observing type of photo taking. I am thankful for the opportunity.

Here are two photos from both of the events.

I am pleased to inform that I will have a new exhibition up from 6th of March in Tartu, in Tartu Lastekunstikooli Jakobi galerii, Jakobi 52, Tartu. This is not a photography exhibition, but an ode to analogue photography, which is basically presenting all leftovers, which occur, when taking photos on a film and developing them later. Definitely not an average presentation, as it is more or less playing in the border of installation and reusing with a hint of recycling. Exhibition is up until 28th of March 2019, Tuesday to Friday 14-19.

Liisa Aavik from suletudring.ee is giving a lecture in Estonian about waste free living on 5th of March, 18.30. You are welcome!

This exhibition is possible because of my ever so supportive family. NB! Exhibition has English narratives and is free of charge.

I have opened my brand new Etsy shop, where I am selling my Chinatown series greeting cards. I have some other, not so traditional and photogenic photos since 2001 on sale as well, so please if any interest, contact me and I send you the photos of them. Mostly they are winter still-lives.

Handmade double sided black and white photo greeting cards for any occasion of your choice! You can choose between the beige or silver paper.

Photo is originally taken on film, scanned and printed for a photograph on a matte paper and glued on top of the horizontal card, so that there is a little silver border around the photo. On the back of the card is a little logo of www.kerlyilves.com

Size 11x16 cm, which is suitable for an average European size envelope. Comes without one.

Presented photos are part of my ongoing photography project, since 2014, which is capturing the setting of an urban garden located in Tartu, Estonia and called Chinatown. It has grown freely for many decades and nobody owns the land or the lots, but recently town municipality has shown some interest in it and wants to build an extension of a wide road through it, which may be the end of the vast urban garden area. Through your kind purchase the scenery captured will live on forever..

New year, new challenges, new directions, new skills - that is how I would like my new year to be. They say the beginning of the year is slow, but I found myself in the first days of the year, once again taking photos of a lovely tiny lady Elli, who is a wonderful subject and since her parents liked the photos, I am glad to know that I can do okay with children photography as well. Can't wait for the next time!

Here are some photos of Elli.

I am pleased to inform that I have another lovely exhibition up in Tartu Public Library from 18th of December. You can visit the exhibition on II and III floor. This is a rare exhibition, presenting Polaroids, definitely a fading art, which needs more attention and probably offers more adventures. The exhibition is up until19th of January 2019.

This exhibition is possible because of Cultural Endowment of Tartu, Ülo and Janar Ilves, Merili Alep and Helle-Mari Märtson. NB! Exhibition has English narratives and is free of charge.

From 11th of December in the gallery Noorus of Pallas University of Applied Sciences, Riia street 11, is opened my new exhibition "A week after". I present large-scale photos and installation, which allows viewers to see the transformations of different food items until the closing of the exhibition on 12th of January.

On 15th of December at 3 PM Jaak Kikas is giving at the exhibition hall a lecture "Moment and eternity. Time in physics and photography." NB! Exhibition has English narratives and is free of charge. The lecture is in Estonian.

This exhibition is possible because of Cultural Endowment of Tartu, Ülo and Janar Ilves and Helle-Mari Märtson.


Selle aasta viimane fotokoolitus toimub 18. ja 19. detsembril ja selle raames õpime tundma RAW-faili. Registreerimine lingi kaudu.

Uued koolitused, uuel aastal!


“Recycle.Chinatown“ appeared from almost thousand of frames, which have been captured in Chinatown. I hope to inspire viewers to recycle materials and things and offer and option that perhaps there are ways to mend the broken things or put them to use in a completely new context. In a way this exhibition is also an invitation to visit Chinatown and obtain inspiration from it.

This exhibition is possible because of Cultural Endowment of Tartu, St. John's Church, Tartu, Janar Ilves, Angelika Pedosk, immense help and guidance of Arp Karm, PLC Täitsa Kantav and Lilian Lukka donating tens and tens of frames and other donors Kadri Vaher, Kristina Kurm, Nele Ambos and Tartu Uuskasutuskeskus.


Märkasin Tartu Kutsehariduskeskuse leheküljel toredat üleskutsed seal toimuvate minu koolituste kohta. Lugege allpool ja leidke enda jaoks parim koolitus. Kohtumiseni!

Meil on hea meel teatada, et meie fotokooli koolitused algavad taas. Tule koolitusele ja õpi parimaid nippe meie imelise õpetaja, Kerly Ilvese, käe all! Ilusa pildi saamiseks on vaja palju rohkemat kui vaid head fotoaparaati.

Aprillikuus algavad fotokooli koolitused:

RAW-fail – esimene samm fototöötluses 03.04 –06.04.2018 Ööfotograafia 04.04 –11.04.2018 Fototöötlus Adobe Photoshopis algajale 09.04 –11.04.2018 Püüa hing pildile – portreefoto algtõed 12.04 –16.04.2018

Juhime tähelepanu!

Koolitusele tulijal peab kaasas olema oma digitaalne fotoaparaat või peegelkaamera. Lisaks on vajalik arvutikasutamise oskus tavakasutaja tasemel. Algteadmised fotograafiast tulevad kasuks, kuid ei ole nõutavad.

Kogu info kevadiste koolituste kohta SELLELT LEHELT.

You can check my newer photos mostly black and white, on my Instagram account, so I can be reached also there under kerlyilvesphotography. I am trying to learn as much as possible and also evolve, therefore I think of Instagram as a tool and I am constantly trying to challenge myself with different themes. Check out my feed here: kerlyilvesphotography.

Few weeks ago I visited Estonian National Archive with my photography class students from Tamme Gymnasium in Tartu. We were taken on a really informative and thorough tour through many floors of the newly opened building called Noora by Birgit Kibal, who is puttng lots of her energy into making archive fun and active place to! I was very inspired by her! We were able to take photos of whatever we wanted, and while we did so, she provided us with very valuable information about what we were taking photos of. She did a lovely post with the help of her colleague, who helped to choose the photos from all the photos we took there, which you can see HERE. Unfortunately in Estonian only.

Translation of the photo below goes something like this:

Paper poetry

Written memory of Estonia through the photographic lens of Tamme Gymnasium students.

To learn the nuances of photography, you do not have to travel far to nature and do not dive into a city hall, but you can come to the archives. To make paper and ink, leather and cardboard, metal and concrete come alive.

Thank you to the teacher, Kerly Ilves and everyone who took the pictures.

Not long ago I was contacted by anEstonian vegan magazine Vegan and they asked me to take photos of a vegan cake made by Elisabeth Emily Rosenberg. She is about to open her vegan cake business and it was a great way for her to get the foot between the door. The location wasn't the best and the light either, as I decided to use noon natural sunlight, which was really harsh, hence the shadows, but I think they add a lot to the photo itself. She was so kind to give me half of the cake, as she has made lots of those tester cakes and she can't eat so much cake with her partner alone! Yipiii, I was so glad - perfect bonus on top of they pay I got from the magazine. I am telling you, the cake is bomb - so-so good, definitely a must be for any birthday, wedding, gathering etc. And the best thing, is that you can find the recipe from the last issue or check their website dor it! Click on the photo of Patrik Baboumian under ILMUNUD NUMBRID on the right side of the site and then just click away until the end.

After a very short preparation time, we organized a very quick photography exhibition in my photography class. It took only a week and a half to make the exhibition from the thought to putting it up in Tasku Center s II floor. We had October as a black and white month and one homework was called "Leaf/Sheet" and after going through so many wonderful photos it was clear what the theme for this year's exhibition was going to be. I was honored to work with such good material, so it was a joy to organize this lightining fast exhibition. I had lots of fun, while taking photo of different leaves I found from my mothers amazing garden. The lack of light and black and white, what you can possibly ask more. Go please and check my students and my photos to see if we did good.

Exhibition is opened every day from 9AM to 9 PM during weekdays in Tasku Center, Turu 2 in Tartu until 3rd of December. Please visit and enjoy some good photography!

This fall season I noticed that some of my photos were published in www.tartu.ee official website and also on their Facebook site. Below you can see some screenshots of my photos commissioned by Tartu City.

My long-time photography project has finally become a reality, as I can proudly present my high quality black and white portraits taken in Toronto of the thirteen local Estonian community members. It was a great joy to meet all these people, to hear their life stories, see the passion, when they spoke about Estonia. Due to funding problems, it took five years to get this exhibition to happen. I am very thankful for The Museum of Estonians Abroad (VEMU), who gave their helping hand to acquire the frames and print the photos. Helle-Mari Märtson helped to edit the texts and Arp Karm helped to install the exhibition. I am very thankful for all your contributions to this exhibition.

"Canadian Estonians - in light and shadow" is opened in the great-looking Tartu train station, which is located in Vaksali street 6 and is opened every day from 6 AM to 8 PM. Please go and have a look, unfortunately the texts are in Estonian, but I am willing to translate anything if there is a need. Exhibition will be up until 8th of January, 2017. Your visit to the train station is appreciated and I would love to hear your feedback.

ABOUT: I decided to organize my own UNOFFICIAL vegan chalk photo walk, as I was too late to apply for an official walk and just now heard about the Chalk walk, because I think the idea is great, I'm vegan, I love photography and bringing like-minded people together for such a wonderful cause.

*ENGLISH SPEAKERS WELCOME, let's make it international.*

Date: Sunday, October 2, 2016

Time: 02:00pm - 04:00pm Location Details: St. Peter's Church

Vegan Chalk Photo Walk Description:

Please join me for this coordinated, worldwide effort to help spread the vegan message, enjoy a healthy walk and take pictures of your beautiful surrounding!

We will get to know Raadi-Kruusamäe district of Tartu. It is an old borough with history and also some very new architectural additions, also Soviet architecture ruins, parks, culture etc. You will get to explore Tartu the way you can't even imagine!

NB! Please pack some snacks, water, your camera gear, wear comfortable clothing and spare at least 1€ for Animal Protection Society of Estonia.

Recommended route for a vegan chalk photo walk, inspired by SCOTT KELBY'S PHOTO WALK and VEGAN CHALK BOMB - check the map, while clicking on the photo:

Read more about the event HERE

I have my H20 exhibition opened again, but this time in Tartu Public Library, also at the same time the new exhibition has been presented by my students called "Known/Unknown". I also have two photos up in that exhibition, which is opened at the same place, at the library, but on 2nd floor, while mine can be visited on 3rd floor.

My friends in Estonia may find this exhibition already familiar, which is true, as I presented the exhibition as a part of five photographers photo sale and show "Vaba Teema" in the end of 2014. Recently a large Estonian community in Toronto saw the exhibition dedicated to an important part of our lives - water. We take it for granted, but when it is gone even for an hour, it is greatly missed! I have been showing this exhibition a lot, as I want more people to see it and be more aware of water.

Exhibition consists of seven framed and matted color photographs, which portray water in its different forms. Each photo is carrying a specific color of a rainbow.

All photos exhibited can be purchased as simple photo prints or framed and matted.

NB! The exhibition is opened until 15th of October, during the opening hours of Public Library: Monday to Friday at 9 AM to 8 PM and Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM.

I had a great pleasure to shoot Toronto Pride 2016. I really loved to see all these people marching for what they believe it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was there too and had lots of fun. Pictured here is my favorite shot, but there are many other good ones, which you can see at the following gallery while clicking on the photo.

I opened in June my photography exhibition "H2O". I wasn't planning an opening at all, but it sort of happened organically. I am glad that there were people to share a special moment with me. My friends in Estonia may find this exhibition already familiar, which is true, as I presented the exhibition as a part of five photographers photo sale and show "Vaba Teema" in the end of 2014. Now a large Estonian community in Toronto can also visit this exhibition dedicated to an important part of our lives - water. We take it for granted, but when it is gone even for an hour, it is greatly missed! I will present the exhibition again in fall, in Estonia in Tartu Public Library, as I want more people to see it and be more aware of water.

Exhibition consists of seven framed and matted color photographs, which portray water in its different forms. Each photo is carrying a specific color of a rainbow. I find this an amusing fact, so the photos can help to celebrate June as a Pride month, here in Toronto!

I am busy currently taking photos of Estonian House, which in few years will loose its original shape and will be transformed into something new. Back at home 13 portraits and interviews of people I photographed in Estonian community here in Toronto, are waiting to become and exhibition. I am looking at the moment for donor/donors who would support with prints and getting the frames.

I am thankful for Piret Noorhani and Ülle Veltmann, whose help made the exhibition possible!

All photos exhibited can be purchased as simple photo prints or framed and matted.

NB! The exhibition is opened until 20th of August, during the opening hours of Estonian House Cafe: Tuesday to Friday at 11 AM to 3 PM.

You can find new photos daily from my blog Imagine this, Instagram kerlyilvesphotography. and weekly photos of my Canadian adventures at Toronto.Canada.Estonia. and news about my photograpy life monthly from this homepage, which I have been trying to change with a help of a volunteer webdesigner for months. Unfortunately the work is not really successful! Yet!

In the end of May I had a chance to travel to Muskoka to do some communal work and take photos in the nature. Being together with dear people, while enjoying the warm weather and swimming, not so much the black flies to whom I am very allergic! I was asked to take photos of the workers and I put together a tiny gallery, click on the photo to see the photos!

I have been quite slow at doing photography for others. I have been just enjoying the nature walks and working on my personal projects more. I really love to cruise around the city with the bike and find shots for my future project-exhibition. From the work side, the most exciting event was when I did some photography for Katrin Somermaa, who presented her play "Kati karu" at Estonian School kindergarten. It was very exciting and took place in very low-light situation.

Have a look at the whole gallery of the play here: Kati karu play.

I proudly present my photos taken at a local so-called Chinatown, Hiinalinn in Estonian, where I have been wandering with my film camera since August 2014. It has been a great experience and I have produced nearly 2000 analogue photo frames, which I have hand-developed, scanned to computer and edited some. These photos were presented as a series during the last Vaba Teema in December, 2015 in Tartu University Library. The exhibition is called "Walls have eyes".

The exhibition is opened in a wonderful Tort and Truhvel Cafe, which is located in Tartu Linnaraamatukogu (Tartu Public Library) in Kompanii 3/5 Street and is openen Monday-Friday 10-18 and on Saturday 11-15. Please go and have a look, the texts are also in English. All photos are accompanied with photo cards, these and everything on the walls is for sale. Have a cake and some pastry in the cafe and enjoy my photos. Photos will be up until 19th of March, 2016. Your visit to the cafe is highly appreciated.

I was contacted by Estonian Animal Protection Foundation, whom I have been supporting on voluntary basis, while taking photos of abandoned dogs and cats. Prettier photos usually guarantee them better chances finding home. They love my work a lot and recently they asked for a kitten photo which may be used to advertise their Valentine's Day charity basketball show. The photo was needed to be one of three webpage photos rotating in the front page at Vabatahtlikud.ee. This is a site, which is a gate between those who look to do good and those who are in need of helping hands.

My long-time friend and photo lover Estonian Animal Protection Foundation, used one of my photos for their annual Christmas Card desgin. They were so kind to even write my name on it, which is excellent. I was so proud that I managed to do good for the home-looking animals and that they found a use for my photo as a card.

I had a great chance to experience half artificial and half natural occurance. While we had extremely low temperatures, here and there in the city one could see light pillars. A light pillar is an atmospheric optical phenomenon in the form of a vertical column of light which appears to extend above and/or below a light source. It wasn't as good, as when you Google it, but an exciting photography opprtunity for me.

I contacted several online portals and send my photos to them. Got some feedback and they published my photos, which is great!

Have a look here: DELFI light pillars.

Weather and people

Light pillars in Tartu


Five of Tartu and Tallinn's own unique photographers will showcase their art in a free exhibition form! Grab a friend and drop in to third ''Vaba Teema'' at University of Tartu Library's conference hall gallery on Friday 4th of December, from 17.30-20 and on Saturday from 11-16. Presenting artists will be present during those date. All you see is for sale! Prices are great, as it is the right time to buy a postcard for your dear ones to send home or get a special Christmas present, while supporting inspired young artists.

Official opening after 17.30 on Friday, snacks and drinks will be offered. Free admission.

Exhibition will be open until 3rd of January, 2016. Mon-Fri 9-22, Sat 11-19 and Sun 11-17.

Check more from Facebook: vaba teema or forward your questions for more details to Kerly: teemavaba [at] gmail.com!

Past two months I was busy taking photos for Archimedes Foundation, as they were compiling a database consisting of photos taken of the most prominent and most interesting projects and programs called to life due to the funding of European Union structural funds. It was a great challenge for me, as the places where different, located in few towns all over in Estonia and I had to get interesting photos from all the 30 places I visited. I was honored to meet all the people I met while on my assignment, who taught me so much about their jobs, their institutions and about their passions. My assignments are done. The last was to take photos at the final so-called thank you event in the hall of Science and Education Ministry.

Check the thank you events gallery: Archimedes FLICKR.

The best part of the project was that I found few of my photos in an extra between Estonian largest daily paper Postimees. I snapped these two shots for you, just to give you an idea of what my photos look like.

You are cordially invited to a photo walk, inspired by Scott Kelby's Photo Walk. ENGLISH SPEAKERS WELCOME, let's make it international!

Click on the photo to see the map of the walk in Tartu!

ABOUT: I decided to organize my own UNOFFICIAL photo walk, as I was too late to apply for an official one, because I think the idea is great, I love photography and bringing like-minded people together for such a wonderful cause.

Date: Saturday, October 3, 2015, rain or shine

Time: 02:00pm - 04:00pm

Location Details: Meeting point in front of St. Peter's Church, Narva mnt.

After the walk, meet at: We will finish walk in Ujula Konsum


Photo Walk Description

We will get to know Raadi-Kruusamae district of Tartu. It is an old borough with history and also some very new and exciting architectural additions, also Soviet architecture ruins, parks, culture etc. You will get to explore Tartu the way you can't even imagine!

NB! Please pack some snacks, water, your camera gear, wear comfortable clothing and spare at least 1 euro for Tartu orphanage home: Mae-kodu http://vahtraleheke.ee

Read more about the ideas KELBY PHOTO WALK here:


STEP ONE: Find a walk in your city.
STEP TWO: Maybe donate one euro to the orphanage*.
STEP THREE: Receive good karma.
STEP FOUR: Walk for 2 hours. Smile. Take lots of photos.
STEP FIVE: Eat. Drink. Laugh. Make new friends.
STEP SIX: Wonder why you waited so long to do this.
* Totally optional but who doesn?t want to help orphans, right?

More info at: http://kelbyone.com/photowalk

I have been taking photos of the homeless animals or those who are in foster care for years. Recently I got awarded for my contribution on helping them, which gave me even more motivation try harder with my photos. It has taken me to a point where I would actually started thinking of pets/animal photography, as it really interests me. As a crown to all that in August few of my photos were published in Postimees online. I am glad that the news got out and that the animals in help get more limelight. You can see the link here:

Save your pets


I have upadated my Picasa Web Album, so please be sure to check it here:

Kerly Ilves Picasa Web Gallery

Femme.ee has changed its looks and I have contributed to it for nearly ten years, so please if you have any interest check my galleries for them here:

Schilling 2015

Tallinn Music Week

Herb Ritts "In Full Light"


Vaba teema fotod muugiks


Viljandi parimusmuusika festival

Taimetoitlasena Elva kohvikutepaeval


XXVI laulupidu

XXVI laulupeo ja XIX tantsupeo rongkaik 2014

XIX tantsupidu "Puudutus"

Kiri Muhu Saarelt

I am also into filming and making short clips. You can check my Vimeo here:

Kerly Ilves on Vimeo

Check my page out at PhoDir: