I first met Tommy after I had taken the gig to provide sequentials (strip photos of player shots) for ACE Tennis Magazine back in 2006. I met Tom at the Queens Club tournament in the Photographer’s Media Room and he prodded me in the chest and said ‘so you are the one, what the hell do you know about tennis’. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this lisping, curly haired little fellow who looked more hobbit than hard man, but I realised he had a smile on his face and a glint in his eye. I knew straight away there was no malice in his mind but a mildly annoying acceptance of ‘their goes another contract’.
I got to know Tommy well over the next seven years and always looked forward to seeing him at the tournaments all over the globe. He was sometimes hilarious, usually entertaining, often frustrating and always completely self- focused, but he was unquestionably a fantastically talented snapper and actually a bloody decent bloke. We kidded, we bantered and sometimes we argued like our lives depended on it, but what ever Tommy got up to, his photography always won through. He was a true talent and a tennis nut. He always told me he should have been playing on the wing for Spurs and not wasting his time with photography, but you know, I don’t think anything would have given him the pleasure and satisfaction, he derived from his art. So now he is gone, taken so quickly and suddenly from our tennis photography gang. When I was at Wimbledon this year, I spent a long time on the stairs in the media centre looking at all Tommy’s photos of the past greats that adorn the walls of the club he loved so much.
Tommy, you were that good and for that you will always be remembered.
A message from Ray Giubilo about Tommy Hindley
It will feel very strange not to have Tommy around at tournaments anymore. And it will be even stranger not to see him at the ITPA meetings.
Tommy had been a member of ITPA since the very beginning and chairman for five years until 2009. I first met Tommy in Australia,more than 20 years ago, I was a newcomer at the time and ,as it often happens, newcomers are not accepted in the “group” straight away. Plus for the first 5 years I was only covering the tennis tournaments in Australia and South East Asia so I would see him only once a year during the Australian Open .
Then in the mid 90’s, I became a regular on the tour and eventually I got to know everybody and finally after a few years I was invited to join the ITPA. This was the time when I got to know Tommy. Until then I didn’t know the man but I knew the photographer, I used to see his photos in magazines and on his website and I really admired him for the quality of his photos,visually very strong, and the energy he was putting in his work. Even when his hip was in a lot of pain he would still run around loaded with equipment, climbing stairs and ladders with so much weight on his shoulders determined to get that special shot.
If there is one quality that Tommy had and that needs to be taken into big consideration is the respect he had towards the others,I never saw him being rude and never saw him making fun of somebody and whenever he could he would give someone some useful advice. He liked to call younger people “kid” in a fatherly way,which I thought it was a beautiful way to make people feel at ease.
He had a great sense of humour and that is what made us become friends. I got to know him well when I became a regular of the Villa d’Auteuil, a tiny family run hotel in Paris very close to the Roland Garros complex. There was a bunch of us who used to stay there every year,until the place eventually closed,Tommy, Mike Cole, John Anthony, Art Seitz and me.
The reception used to close at 10 pm and by then the cage of Oscar,the whistling parrot, was covered with a blanket so he could go to sleep . Of course by the time we used to get back from dinner and drinks we were always a bit tipsy to say the least. The first hard task was to manage to put the key through the little key hole at the bottom of the front door and then we had to be very quiet when we were looking for our room keys in the dark so we wouldn’t wake up the Oscar.
Of course there was always one of us who would whistle a song as a joke Oscar would wake up and start whisting the song at the top of his voice and we would run upstairs laughing our heads off and lock ourselves in our rooms before the owner of La Villa would wake up.
We had so many laughs at La Villa,it was like living in a Faulty Towers situation.
Miami was another fun place for us. At Key Biscayne they have this very civilized habit to have a happy hour for us between 6 and 7:30 and that was the time we used to exchange stories and jokes over a few gin tonics with pals like Clive, Roger and Anne ,Karl, Dave, Mike Baz, just to mention a few. After that we would often go over to Roger and Anne’s apartment for more drinks and then out for dinner. In 2007 Tommy and I shared an apartment in Miami and we were always talking about ways to make ITPA grow and how to get the photographers to be more united. One night we decided that we would have a party for all the photographers and their friends at our apartment and we would also celebrate Cynthia Lum’s birthday. It turned up to be a great party , a lot of people came, we didn’t talk about work and just enjoyed each other’s company. Finally we all felt part of something that belonged to us all.
At the end of the day us photographers who cover tennis are all in the same boat. We all do this job because we love it and we all do it walking on thin ice because we never know how long it’s going to last. We work hard, often too hard and we stress ourselves too much and we also compete against each other too much.
What happened to Tommy should make us revalue our lives. I last saw Tommy last April in Montecarlo, with Clive. He was his usual self even though he seemed a bit tired. I knew he had some problems with his hip again but I would have never thought that I would never see him again.
Tommy is not here anymore but I know that he will always be with us down there on centre court on finals day with Carol Newsome, Arthur Cole, Nakajima & Abe.
We will not see him but I am sure that we will all feel his presence there next to us waiting for that match point.
I would like to finish with one of Tommy’s most favourite lines : “It ain’t over until the Fat lady sings.” It was a classic,I heard Tommy say it so many times. A very positive line if you think about it, and Tommy was always vey positive in his thoughts.
So long Tommy , you big spurs supporter, it was fun meeting you.
We’ll will miss you kid !