New Jersey is home to many interesting people – but one of its most interesting could be a 101-year-old digital photographer from Warren County.
News 12 New Jersey’s Brian Donohue went to Endel Uiga’s Hope Township home – mainly to see his collection of abstract digital photography that he made himself. Uiga has been a photographer in one form or another for 95 years.
“Everyone sees a different thing depending on what kind of mind, what kind of person one is,” he says.
Uiga was born just after World War I in the European country of Estonia. One of his oldest photos is from when he was 8 years old. The photo depicts him with his aunt and uncles and he is seen holding a string connected to the camera shutter. It is an old-fashioned selfie.
It is the only photograph that he has from those days. He says he had to leave the others behind when the Russian army took over Estonia in 1940. Uiga was a college student at the time.
“We didn’t realize this type of high-degree of terror exists in the world. We were practically slaves,” he says.
Uiga fled to Germany and then later came to the United States as a refugee. He worked as an electrical engineer at Ballantine Laboratories in Rockaway and then a professor at the County College of Morris. He retired in 1988.
He says that these days he worries about resurgent Russian imperialism and America turning its back on refugees like him.
“You wouldn’t believe how cruel,” he says.
But he says that he mostly smiles and laughs and shows off his home filled with his photographs, blacksmithing projects and tapestries woven by his late wife.
He says that he became interested in digital photography in the 1970s, using editing software to turn his photos into abstract works of art he calls “mindscapes.”
One such photo depicts a close up of a snow bank. It looks like a bird flying away. He calls it “Escape” and says that it reminds him of his own escape from Soviet occupation. Donohue says that he bought the photo for $40 as a way to remember his visit with such a unique New Jersey resident.