Skip to main content

Beyond the Ink - Tim Hendricks


Tim Hendricks and I first crossed paths back in 2010. I had just moved across the country from Wichita, KS to Philadelphia and was invited to take part in filming for TLC’s new show, NY Ink. When they informed me that I would be getting tattooed by the legend that is Tim Hendricks, I was over the moon. On that particular episode—Episode 1, Season 1- available on Netflix ;)—he tattooed my left thigh piece which is the tree that we all know and love. Luckily for me, we hit it off and realized we had some common interests & friends. Fast forward to 4 years later and I am lucky enough to call him not only my tattoo artist, but also my friend.

During our latest session, he was working on my chest plate filigree tattoo, and he asked if i would mind if he took a couple photos with his camera. Of course I didn’t mind, but when he sent me the results of the two shots he took, I was impressed. He told me he planned to pick the hobby back up and voila! Read below for an exclusive interview and check out more of Tim's photography at the bottom of the page.

Alysha: Tell us a little about yourself for those that aren't familiar with your work.
Well, I've been an artist since childhood and started tattooing in the early nineties during my teenage years. Since then I've been tattooing, painting, drawing, photographing and traveling the world as much as possible.

How long have you been taking photographs?
Since I was a young teenager, so 25 years. I had to learn how to use a film camera properly if I wanted to build a tattoo portfolio. I already knew how to use a film camera though, that's all there was then. It also helped that my uncle and my brother were really into photography.

What was your first camera and what were your first shots like?
My first camera was a Nikkormat with a 50mm and a 135mm lens. I mainly shot tattoos I would do, but there were great little moments of tattoo parties in my garage caught on film as well. I still own that same camera and shoot on it sometimes, it weighs a ton.

What is your favorite camera to use?
That's a hard question to answer, it's like asking a parent who their favorite kid is! If I had to pick it would be my Nikon F2S. I really like shooting 35mm on the fly, it has a great docu/journalist type of look, which I feel is my type of style. I really do enjoy shooting portraits on my Hasselblad though, there is nothing quite like it, that shutter is like a gunshot it's so loud, ha.

Do you prefer using film or digital? Why?
I definitely prefer film over digital. If I was a professional fashion photographer then I'd use a fancy digital Canon, but I'm not. I prefer the look of film, the lenses and the satisfaction of the outcome. I know it's a bit nerdy and only other photo nerds can understand. There's just something about film photography that is so pure, there's nothing commercial about it. I do shoot in digital as well, it's usually for my tattoo work, my tattoo machines, and product photos for my tattoo supply store; it's just easier and quicker.

Who are your favorite subjects?
Anyone I tattoo, especially women, I like the female form. Whether I'm drawing, painting or tattooing, I've always been partial to artistically portraying the beauty of women. I also love to take portraits of other tattooers. I feel like tattooers are such characters, it's fun to try and capture their personality a bit.

Do you feel that being in Southern California influences the way you shoot?
Most definitely, I shoot my surroundings and there's really no where on earth quite like Southern California.

What makes for a great photograph in your opinion?
Damn, am I going to get all philosophical on your ass? I think a great photo captures a moment that says a thousand words. It forces emotions out of you and won't let you look away. It's literally a split second and it's so quickly missed. Sometimes these captured moments are like 'controlled accidents' if that makes sense.

Do you have a favorite photo you've taken?
No, I'm my own worst critic. I only have photos I 'hate the least' if that makes sense, they're usually photos of my kid or my wife.

Are there any photographers you look to for inspiration?
I've always been a big fan of Estevan Oriol. He not only captured the subculture of the Southern California barrios on film, he did it gracefully, artistically and powerfully. Another favorite of mine is Lani Lee, that woman can shoot anything and make it look amazing. Even though Lani shoots mostly in digital now, she started with large format film and worked her way down. She knows a great deal about film photography and I always look towards her for advice and knowledge.