Tristan O’Tierney 1984-2019

I found out this week that my friend Tristan O’Tierney died on February 23rd.  Tristan was a fellow photographer and a wonderful, searching soul.

Tristan (@tristan) was an immensely talented programmer who co-founded Square with Jack Dorsey (@jack) and Jim McKelvey, and launched back in 2009.  Tristan also worked with President Barack Obama’s amazing digital team to help create the iPhone app for the 2008 campaign.  I met Tristan in 2013, just before he left Square and we talked photography.  He wanted to make a change, was planning on leaving Square and traveling the world, learning photography.  Our conversation centered around finding a personal perspective and then mentoring.

It was clear to me over the intervening years that Tristan had an addiction, and Tristan did not try to hide it.  He was struggling… with depression, addiction, relationships, and finding his way.  I had hoped that the practice of photography could have been a salvation for him, as he had massive talent.  I had never seen a level of skill develop so quickly in a photographer as he moved rapidly from snapshots to creating beautiful landscape photography.  If you scroll through Tristan’s Instagram account, you’ll see some of his work.

When we got together a couple years later, his girlfriend Anjela was very pregnant and he was excited to be a father.  He was also aware that he had a full blown addiction and it scared him.

I’m sorry addiction won out Tristan. I’m so sorry.  I am sorry you did not have more time.  I am so sorry for your family.

Tristan, I do want to thank you for your contributions to life, your contributions to your family, your work in technology and your beautiful imagery. This is how I am going to remember you Tristan… As an eager student of photography, excited to see the world and share with the rest of the world how you saw it.

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