Shooting with major artists is something most photographers dream of. Did Christian Tierney get lucky, or was his get-up-and-go attitude the key to his success in the music business?
Christian wasn’t keen on an ordinary upbringing, and on the week of his 20th birthday, I think it’s only appropriate to peer into his envious career so far. He’s young, and a great example of how some hustle goes a long way.
His credits and accolades reside on a long list. In fact, he’s just been selected for our Photo of the Day, adding another one. Kendrick Lamar, Florence & The Machine, The 1975, Blur, Major Lazer, and Tame Impala are all on that list. Then there’s his YouTube channel, on which you can find him interviewing Macklemore (who he filmed at 15 years old as well) and breaking James Bay’s “Let It Go” to 5.5m people.
How did he get there then? I’m not sure many artists would trust a 15 year old to shoot them, but somehow Christian managed to bridge that gap. In his own words, he tells us how he started by just emailing the people in charge. Can’t hurt to ask, right?
“When I was just starting out emailing music managers I always tried to make myself seem way more important and influential than I actually was to try and convince them to let me film or photograph their artists. I specifically contacted music managers, promoters and labels by email rather than by phone or in person, in an attempt to hide my age. For all they knew I was thirty until I showed up on the shoot.”
So his plan was to film up and coming talent, which would always lead to more and more talent. He aggregates all of this on his YouTube channel, which then leads to more talent and more open doors. Before he knew it, he was getting access to some of our favorite artists.
[Kendrick Lamar Live - Photo by Christian Tierney]
Which brings up an obvious question. What about ageism? Did anybody refuse to work with a teenager? Even when they have as much clout as Christian? It couldn't have been easy to get his foot in the door without age becoming an issue. He wouldn’t have even been able to rent equipment until he was older.
According to Christian, it hasn’t actually been all that bad. Apparently when people found out his age, presumably after he turned up on set, they were generally pretty cool about it. “That’s really cool that you’re doing this so young,” is what he claims people would comment. I know myself, when filming young, that people always assumed I was a runner/assistant. Sometimes they still do!
So on that note, Christian not only managed to get a head start on his career during his teens - he managed to make it happen. “If anything, I think it may have helped me stand out early on.” he told me. “By the time I finished school I’d already been working as a videographer and photographer for four years”.
I’m sure that there’s plenty more where that came from. His eight million YouTube views may well pass the 10 million mark before the end of the year, and I’m sure he has plenty of other amazing artists to shoot with. Who knows where he’ll be when he’s 21!
[James Bay Live in the Olympia Theater - Photo by Christian Tierney]