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Q&A with A-list photographer Christian Tierney: 'I don't believe in guilty pleasures. There's no shame in my love for cheesy 1990s pop'


Christian Tierney

Christian Tierney

Christian Tierney

Self-taught photographer Christian grew up in Lucan, Co Dublin. He has photographed a host of A-listers, including Rihanna, Niall Horan, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Bella Hadid, The Weeknd, Hozier and Ellen DeGeneres. In 2019, he was nominated for an iHeart Radio Music Award in Los Angeles for Favourite Tour Photographer and was profiled by the New York Times for its 'Up Next'.

What's your earliest memory?

Being told I was going to have a little brother when I was two years old.

What was the first book you loved?

I was obsessed with the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events books in primary school.

What's your best holiday memory?

Travelling around Sri Lanka with some of my best friends last year. I loved everything about the country - the people, the food, the culture, the landscape. Would highly recommend visiting if you can.

What is your biggest fear?

Dying alone.

What are you most proud of?

I'm proud of the fact that I've built a life for myself where I get to do what I love every day. I have a lot of freedom.

What's the first thing you'd do if you were Taoiseach?

End Direct Provision.

What's your biggest insecurity?

My body.

Who would you most like to go for a pint with?

Kanye West. I can't imagine a scenario where that wouldn't be interesting. There's no way I'd leave that pub without an anecdote. I'm also a massive fan of his art.

What fictional character do you most identify with?

I just watched Normal People for the second time and I can relate to certain aspects of almost every character in one way or another, I think most young people can and that's a testament to how amazingly crafted it is. Unfortunately though, I couldn't relate to Connell's chiseled physique in any way whatsoever, just his ongoing emotional turmoil.

What is your most treasured possession?

A big, green, novelty Friends mug. It's been in my house forever and tea just tastes better out of it and it holds way more than a normal mug so if it ever broke I'd be distraught.

What's your guilty pleasure?

I don't believe in guilty pleasures. There's no shame in my love for cheesy 1990s pop.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

'Talk to yourself how you'd talk to your best friend'. It's so easy to be irrationally hard on yourself for no reason and it's something I've struggled with my whole life. If I talked to my friends how I talk to myself sometimes, I'd have no friends left but that piece of advice really opened a door to healthier self-compassion and rationalising my anxieties.

What item in your wardrobe do you wear the most?

If I find something I really like, I get a few and wear them all the time. At the moment I have a couple of pairs of Nike trousers that I wear pretty much every day. It's the same with Cole Buxton's warm-up track pants when I'm travelling. They're so comfortable and I love how they look so I have a few pairs in different colours. When you're living on a tour bus and taking flights all the time it's so important to be comfortable.

Who are your heroes?

My parents, Greg and Tina. Everything they do is for me and my brother and we'd be nowhere without their ongoing support in whatever we do.

When did you last cry?

I shed a tear during the last scene of Normal People. It cut very close to the bone.

What keeps you awake at night?

The bottomless pit of existentialism.

What's your greatest passion in life?

Music has been my biggest love since day one.

If you had to choose three adjectives to describe yourself, which would they be?

Determined, self-aware and compassionate.

What's your favourite film?

I don't watch enough films, I'm more of a TV series guy, but I recently watched Portrait of A Lady On Fire and it absolutely blew me away. Haven't been that moved by a film in a long time.

What one piece of advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Not everyone's intentions are as pure as you believe they are or would like them to be. Continue trying to see the best in people because the opposite is no way to live, but don't be surprised when people try to take advantage.

What do you regret not doing in the last year?

I don't think I have any regrets. If I've made a mistake I've learned something from it that's made me a better person, so changing something would mean I wouldn't have that lesson.

How did you cope with the lockdown situation?

With all the travelling I've been doing over the last few years for work, my body definitely enjoyed the down time and I weirdly felt more like myself than I have in a while. While on the road, I've been teaching myself music production and during quarantine I produced a debut single for my 20-year-old singer-songwriter brother, Alex Tierney, who recently opened for superstar Lewis Capaldi.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

To eat whatever I like without gaining weight. That's the ultimate dream.

What does your dream weekend look like?

A European city in the summer, friends, food, drink and music.

Do you believe in a God?

I don't. I have no idea what's out there or why or how we're here, nobody does for sure and it could be anything, but I feel like science is doing the best job of figuring it out so I trust their stance on it.

'Over The Maybes' by Alex Tierney, produced by Christian Tierney, is available on all streaming platforms now.

Weekend Magazine