Timothy Rysdyke: Curator, Photographer, Advocate

Photo by Lauren Max

Age 30
Middletown, NY
Unlikely InfluenceDrop Dead Fred
Current Obsession 
Making pom-poms
Pet Peeve 
Snooze-button hitters
Song on Repeat 
“I Got Drunk”
by Miya Folick

The first time I saw a Timothy Rysdyke photo, I attributed my appreciation to its backdrop of pornographic playing cards and deflated parachutes. A closer look revealed technical skill, an eye for composition and an ability to extract aesthetic potential from refrigerator mold and the OKCupid profiles of evangelical Christians.

In addition to his work as a photographer, Rysdyke is the curator for Cupcake Royale and his own Capitol Hill gallery, The Factory, which occupies a room in a warehouse-like building on 10th Avenue that’s been an arts community staple for decades. Its name and silver foil-lined bar are homages to Andy Warhol.

“I want The Factory to have the same vibes that Warhol’s Factory provided at the time,” Rysdyke says, “a welcoming space for artists, offbeat partygoers and drag queens to feel safe and express themselves.”

The space hosts notably intersectional shows and is always packed with the city’s shiniest, filthiest patrons. It has shown painter Andrew Lamb Schultz, painter Katlyn Hubner, Tara Thomas’ Jackie Collins-themed show, a group show about hair and a show by Graham Downing where one large, expensive painting was sold piece by piece. This month, the Factory exhibits Marie Hausauer: “It’s 35mm slides from the ’60s that she found at antique stores, which she illustrated, inserting her own dread of family life into their idyllic scenes,” Rysdyke says with characteristic excitement. “I’m so in love with her work.”

Growing up two hours north of New York City, Rysdyke was introduced to photography at age 11, when his parents bought him a digital camera for kids. “I took a class in high school and loved being in the darkroom,” he says. “One Christmas my parents built out a darkroom in our basement.” Rysdyke moved to Seattle in 2008 and took a few classes at Photo Center Northwest before he began doing nightlife photography for fun.

In 2011, he began a street fashion column for The Stranger called “What You’re Not Wearing.” His photo profile series Hillebrity first appeared in the Capitol Hill Times in 2011, then moved to the Capitol Hill Seattle blog, where it ran until 2014. “A Hillebrity can include but is not limited to: people on or around Capitol Hill, celebrities, drunk people, beautiful people, crazy-looking people, singers, artists, dogs, writers, criminals, people from Hawaii, the unemployed, girls with awesome hair and my friend Panda,” Rysdyke says.

Rysdyke’s eclecticism of subjects is like a bag of Skittles ranging from cherry to hot dog, yet all of them are similarly full of life and personality. This is partly because it’s so easy to be comfortable around him—he retains a teenager’s enthusiasm and openness. It’s an energy frequently absent from fashion photography, which is what makes his photos so refreshing.