Behind the Scenes: A Tim Olk Gallery

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Behind the Scenes: A Tim Olk Gallery documents the actions of first responders through photography and reveals what they endure every day that the greater public does not see.

Tim Olk is a fire department photo unit photographer who has been capturing the history of the Chicago Fire Department for nearly 30 years. He covers everything from big fires, explosions, and vehicle collisions, to funerals, special operations/collapses and disaster scenes in the greater Chicago area.



“Tim Olk has done more for the morale of Chicago firefighters than anyone else,” says former Chicago Deputy Fire Commissioner of Operations Tim Sampey. “He is courteous and knows the traditions and doesn’t step over the line. He treats everyone with professionalism, no matter their rank.”


“I have seen Tim Olk’s compassion and wisdom required of a professional photographer when taking photos at highly emotional scenes.” – late Chief Bobby Halton. “Tim understands how to be empathetic and to see the situation through the eyes of those he’s trying to capture in his photos.”


Chicago Deputy District Chief Kelly Burns appreciates Olk’s photos over the years because they have given his family moments in the fire service they wouldn’t have otherwise witnessed. “What makes Tim so special to us in the fire service is that we know he cares about the job, Burns said. “We trust him because he loves the fire service and those members who have taken the oath. We know his goal is to share what we do with the public in a positive light.”