Pierce is a native Californian and self-confessed nature-addict, with one eye always on the ocean. He was born in the redwood town of Fortuna in northern California, where he spent most of his days outdoors as a child. As a youth, Pierce discovered his love for photography and began a nomadic adventure across the country with his camera. He eventually moved to Santa Barbara to study at Brooks Institute—then regarded as one of the top photography schools in the world. Pierce received formal training in traditional color and black and white darkrooms, as well as historical processes, studying under the direction of photographers such as Paul Liebhardt, Luther Gerlach, Joyce Wilson, and Christopher Broughton.