We sat down with photographer and director Christian Tierney to find out how his career led him to work with American A-listers including Ellen Degeneres, Hailee Steinfeld, Macklemore and Dua Lipa.

Remember the movie Almost Famous? The one about the high-school journalist who gets the chance to go on tour with an up-and-coming rock band and write a story for Rolling Stones magazine? Christian Tierney's story is a bit like that.

At the age of 15, he donned his smartest outfit - the one he wore to his Junior Cert results night, two weeks previously - took a half day from school and headed into Tower Records to shoot with one of his favourite artists, an up-and-comer by the name of Macklemore.

"I used to go onto MCD's listings site, and see every since person that was coming to Dublin on tour and message the manager for every one of them, and just e-mail and e-mail and e-mail until somebody responded.

"In the beginning, I got none but, eventually, I got one. Macklemore's manager replied to me and let me hang out with him for a day, just before he blew up. Then, obviously, Thrift Shop came out."

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Watch: Christian's 2013 showreel featuring Ed Sheeran, Macklemore, Ryan O'Shaughnessy and more.

Through a combination of perseverance and good luck, Tierney found himself in this position time and time again. Finding artists on the cusp of stardom; highly talented, moderately accessible, and willing to work with him as part of a quid pro quo. 

"The next big one to break was James Bay. When I was 17, he was coming to play the Academy, there was only like fifty to a hundred people at the gig.

"His management replied to my e-mail - one of the only ones - and said, 'James has a new song that he's finished writing that he would love to get a video done for, you e-mailed at the right time'." 

That song was Let It Go. 

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Watch: The video that has accumulated over 6 million views.

His YouTube channel, which he originally created to make skate videos at the age of 12, soon became a hub of creativity with official music videos, live shows and interviews with everyone from Ed Sheeran and Ryan O'Shaughnessy to The Original Rudeboys and Funzo.

It was at this time that music labels began to change their policies on major artists being filmed, and so, when videography became unsustainable, Christian moved further towards photography - a move that would eventually bring him to Las Vegas to work with one of the world's most famous UFC fighters.

"I'm just interested in shooting people that I think are really interesting. Most of the time, because I'm a massive music fan, those people are musicians, but then Conor McGregor came along. He was a huge star and I always inspired by what he achieved, coming from Dublin.

He continued, "I spent a couple of months with him in Dublin and in Las Vegas coming up to the fight [McGregor v Mayweather, 2017], did loads of photos and videos for him and that just put my work in front of a much bigger audience for the first time."

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In 2018, Tierney's prominence grew further when he snapped American A-listers Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, and Michael Keaton at a fundraiser in LA before working as a personal tour photographer for both Niall Horan and Oscar-nominee turned pop star Hailee Steinfeld.

And while it would be easy for anyone, never mind a 22-year-old, to get swept away with the star-struck and fame-hungry, Tierney is possibly the most grounded person to have chased the American dream.

"You realise very quickly that people are just people doing a job. Ellen [Degeneres] is just somebody doing a job, she just happens to be more known for it than say, a plumber. But there's a plumber who is as good at his job as Ellen is at her job."

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Taking the leap from working local music festivals to touring with artists across the globe is no small feat and, although LA is far from being a small pond, the Lucan man insists that the music photography community has been a supportive one - something that he has tried to extend through his own social media.

"A massive proportion of the music photographers who I think are the best are female. I'd say eight out of my favourite ten photographers are female. They find it a lot more difficult in the music industry because, obviously, it's quite male-dominated.

"Friends of mine have done the same job that I have and have been paid less, or haven't been paid at all, or haven't been given the right access. Whenever I can, I try to support other photographers and get their work out there."

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At the fine age of 22, Tierney has a career that most people can only dream of, and although it would be easy to assume that early success has left the photographer with a McGregor-sized ego, this couldn't be further from the truth. Rather than play up to the rock and roll lifestyle of being on tour, the Dubliner has used his platform to highlight the surge of mental health and addiction issues plaguing the music industry.

"The music industry doesn't really have any support system. If you have a bad day on tour, there's nobody, really, that you can go and talk to about it. There's no HR office that you can go to and talk to."

"Inevitably, you do have bad days on tour and it can, at times and especially if you have anxiety, feel quite claustrophobic. You wake up on the tour bus and you're at work until you go to bed that night, you can't go home at five o'clock. If it's a two-month tour, you can't just dip out and go home.

"You're away from your family all the time and your friends, there are a lot of sacrifices you make."

Despite insisting that, much like other twenty-something-year-olds, he's facing an "existential crisis" and has no idea what he's doing with his life. There really is no doubt that Tierney has found his calling.

"There's a feeling you get when you know you've taken a good photo, like an adrenalin rush," he says. "That's the feeling you're chasing as a photographer when you know you've made something to be proud of."

To find more of Christian's work, follow his Instagram here.