Amy Tierney (https://www.thriveimages.com/) Amy Tierney is a photographer and director of climate and women’s focused stories, a youth arts educator and ambassador photographer for SanDisk. Near and dear to her heart is a project she co-crafted with nationally recognized non-profit Step Up Women’s Network (https://www.suwn.org/) called “Photojournalism for Girls … The I Dream To Project”. The program ran for five years, and taught over 400 underserved teen girls in LA, New York and Chicago the tools of photojournalism as the skills to meet with the very women they dreamed to be. Her work has been published in Elle, Vanity Fair, Variety, the Los Angeles Times, NY Times Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Magazine, Photo District News, Rolling Stone, W, LA Confidential, Angeleno, and broadcast on ABC, BET, CBS, HBO, KCET, MTV, NBC, Showtime, and VH1. Amy believes the underlying power to transform lives, markets and communities continues to be the stories we share, and looks forward to the opportunity to share yours!
LACP Interviews Amy Tierney
LACP asks Amy Tierney ten questions about their background, career in and beliefs about photography.
Los Angeles Center of Photography: What kind of photographer are you?
Amy Tierney: A portrait photographer of women’s and climate focused stories, and an entertainment event photographer.
LACP: How long have you been photographing?
AT: I’ve been photographing professionally since 1999.
LACP: Where did you get your training?
AT: I received the groundwork of my professional training when I went to work for Lee Salem Photography here in Los Angeles for eight years, first as an assistant (portraits of entertainment VIPs) and then as an entertainment events photographer (film, TV, cultural institution openings and donor events) throughout the city. Prior to that I had my first photography classes in high school, and then more in college while I was getting my film and writing degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. I also worked for a film completion bond company and as a production coordinator on feature films – all of which was training for doing the work I do now.
LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?
AT: Sometime around the beginning of my third year working professionally I began receiving regular, very positive feedback from clients about the images I was producing as well as my approach and interaction with the people I was photographing. Prior to that I was treating it more like a job to support what I considered my primary drive – which was my interest in being a comedy writer.
The third year of working professionally tested my devotion. I was interested in being a comedienne, or comedy writer, so was taking improv acting classes at 2nd City Los Angeles to build up those skills. The actor audition process however was a roadblock for me; I wasn’t receiving enough positive feedback often enough to get regular work. I was also honing improv skills as a director; someone working behind the camera … and it was with those skills that requests for my work as a photographer started to pick up and become steady, regular work. That’s when I thought I could devote a good part of my life to photography.
LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?
AT: More times than I care to admit since the financial recession of 2008 and the digital camera phone revolution converged, challenging my job as a business person and a professional imagemaker. That being said, I have seen a bit of a swing-back with respect to the value clients give professional photography again, and I advocate for all photographers to make time for personal projects that can re-energize their work, and thereby their income streams.
LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?
AT: So far only my dream of having a silver 1969 Maserati Mexico as my second car; however, the joy of being a photographer is that I’ll likely meet someone who owns one and wants to be photographed in it. Not to mention, we need to get off of fossil fuels and with that knowledge my own dreams have shifted to wanting to photograph as many climate solutions advocates, scientists, businesses and change makers as possible; to help share their very important messaging.
LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?
AT: I have gained countless communication skills that have made it possible to interact with just about anyone, anywhere, as well as the skills of instruction which keep the learning juices flowing, and invitations to places I dream of experiencing.
LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?
AT: Digital Photography for Teens, and Photoshop and Lightroom for Teens. (I also taught Digital Photography for Grade School Students via LACP’s partnership LA Boys and Girls Clubs).
LACP: What do you love most about teaching?
AT: Sharing the process and skills. That act of sharing elevates both student and teacher. Teaching inspires me to know the practice of photography better than I do now, and to keep learning and creating.
LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?
AT: Make sure to be a member of at least one photography membership organization that has community you resonate with; that way, you can share knowledge and skills in a non-competitive environment that will then expand your craft and business. It’s something I wish I did much, much earlier in my career.