As Venice Beach is to skateboarding, or Oahu’s North Shore is to surfing, Cappadocia in central Turkey is to hot air ballooning. On an average day, 100 balloons are allowed to take off just before sunrise, and another 50 half an hour after sunrise. Approximately 2,000 people a day, upward of 500,000 a year, take to the skies in balloons operated by more than 25 tour companies.
Pierson came to the area to photograph the balloons in flight. He booked a special hotel on a mountaintop to photograph the balloons that were to launch at dawn. But plans don’t always come together. “We were there in December 2018. It was so windy. Absolutely no balloons were allowed to fly for days. There are other things to see here. It’s really beautiful and very interesting, but we were there to photograph balloons, and it wasn’t happening.
“We’d resigned ourselves to failing in this mission. We packed up the room and were ready to check out when everything changed. This photo was taken about 20 minutes before we had to leave for our flight. All of the sudden the balloons took to the air during one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen, filled with the balloons we were waiting for. It was the most frantic 20 minutes of my photo career. But it paid off. No matter how hard you plan, you can never really plan. You just have to roll with it.”