John Peltier

Freelance documentary photographer & educator. Stock & assignment, based in Lake Tahoe. Veteran.

I’m an Air Force veteran and pilot by trade, having flown the F-15E for nearly ten years, including 114 Close Air Support combat missions in Afghanistan. Towards the end of my career, I realized that I needed a different pace in my life, so I bought a 27-foot sailboat and sailed from North Carolina to the Caribbean. It was a life-changing adventure, and you can read about what prompted this major shift in my life in this article from All At Sea magazine.

Somewhere along the way, I started volunteering more of my time to help people and causes I believe in, and it feels great. I've completed photodocumentary projects for several humanitarian & environmental nonprofits & NGOs around the world. At home, I'm a volunteer divemaster for Clean Up The Lake and volunteer on an alpine search & rescue team. Between photography projects, I also teach photography lessons both in-person and online.

Lake Tahoe has been my official home since 1990, and I enjoy all of the year-round activities offered in this mountain paradise. These include backpacking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, sailing, diving, and flying.


I realize how powerful photography can be and my goal is to use it as a tool to help people. That could be to motivate them to get outdoors more for the health benefits; to help preserve land for that purpose; or to assist with non-profits and NGOs in their missions to bring a better life to others.

I am a self-sufficient traveler, often embarking on journeys with just a small backpack and a shoulder bag. I embrace learning new cultures, traditions, and languages. My experiences in Air Force survival training, with alpine search and rescue, and as a wilderness first responder mean I’m ready for any challenge.

Could your nonprofit or NGO benefit from a professional media campaign? Read this for more information.


My ethical practices are tied directly to my mission statement and understanding the power of photography.

My storytelling process is built on a foundation of dignity & respect. Portraying others how I would want to be portrayed. Listening & learning more than photographing. Always asking for permission first. Use photography to amplify their story rather than promote my story.

It is important to acknowledge that our own personal experiences will always influence the ways in which we tell a story to some degree. However, I strive to do the research and understand the people & places I photograph to minimize this influence and be objective as much as possible.

I promise to: 
 • Leave no trace. 
 • Practice Free & Prior Informed Consent. 
 • Obey all laws & regulations. 
 • Not alter or set up any scenes that do not honestly depict that scene, both during capture and during post-processing. 
 • Not publish photos, names, or locations when requested to not do so or when it could bring harm. 
 • Do everything in my power to protect the people & places I photograph. 
 • Be honest and transparent about my work to the people I photograph, the people I work for, and you.


Hit The Streets With Valerie Jardin episode 126, Photography with a Purpose.

Focus Points Photography Podcast episode 18, Journeys and Education with John Peltier.


Photographers Without Borders
The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California
Otra Cosa Network (Peru)
X-Suba Sport4Development Uganda
The Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti
National Pony Express Association
The Giving Lens
Unlocking Silent Histories (Guatemala)
El Fenn Maroc (Morocco)
California Tahoe Conservancy
Truckee Donner Land Trust
Eno River Association
Triangle Land Conservancy

U.S. National Park Service
New York Magazine
San Francisco Chronicle
Los Angeles Times
London Daily Telegraph
Tahoe Quarterly
Nevada Magazine
Tahoe Daily Tribune
Air Force Magazine
Air Force Times