Nobody at the Pierson home knew how to operate the camera, so Doug took the camera to a high school teacher, Lynn Adams, to explain the camera's operation . The teacher was thanked, but that wasn't enough for Mr. Adams.
"Now you owe me a photography assignment," he informed Pierson.
That was an event would shape Pierson's future. He became hooked on photography and was the primary photographer for the school yearbook for the next two years.
He studied photography at Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo and worked professionally in eastern Iowa before opening his studio in Cherokee in 1990.
He will reach a professional milestone at an upcoming Professional Photographers of America convention in San Antonio where he will be officially recognized as a Master of Photography, an honor he earned through years of ongoing education and participation in print competitions. His most recent competition was at the Heart of America Affiliated Print Competition earlier this month in Omaha.
"This is the greatest job in the world," Pierson said, "I get just as excited now as when I first started."
He also still gets nervous before weddings, although he has developed his skills since first starting a couple of decades back.
There have been technical developments in the field of photography since he began his career. With few exceptions, professional photographers are now 100 percent digital.
"Some people think digital photography is like magic, but you can't rely on digital cameras to overcome not knowing the basics," Pierson said. "The basics are unchanged from the days of chemicals."
In order to be recognized as a Master of Photography by the PPA, a photographer must earn 25 merit points from schools, seminars and competitions. At least 13 points have to be from competitions.
The print entered in the Heart of America competition that put him over the top for merit points was a romantic moment between a bride and groom shot in Savannah, Georgia, titled "Old World Rapture." This photograph, printed in brown tone (seen in black and white on page 3) won the first place wedding category for non masters. In the future, Pierson's entries will be submitted in the masters' category.
Besides developments in Pierson's professional life, there have been developments in his personal life since he moved to Cherokee. He became widowed a couple years after moving to Cherokee. Some years after that, he married Rita, another professional photographer, and they combined talents at Pierson Photography.
They blended families as well as careers. The oldest daughter, Rebekah Pierson, is graduating from the University of Iowa this spring with a degree in Psychology. Sara Jacobmeyer is graduating from Washington High School this spring. Twins, Daniel Pierson and Andrew Pierson, will be seniors at Washington High School in the fall. Claire Jacobmeyer will be a freshman at Washington High School in the fall.
Doug Pierson, who grew up on a farm, has no doubt about his chosen career. It is what he wants to be doing above anything else.