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Mike Peters

University Photographer, Creative

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As the University Photographer I am responsible for providing still images for all publications, public and media relations, the University web site, and presentations.

Our online photo gallery can be found here: At this site you can find images of the University that can be used on any Montclair State web site or for any publications made by or for the University. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email or call.

Before joining Montclair State University in 2000, I was a freelance photographer for The New York Times, McGraw-Hill, Pearson Publications, Castrol, NJ Monthly, The Montclair Art Museum, Gibbons Law, Visiting Nurse of Northern NJ, The Yogi Berra Museum, NJIT, Stevens Institute of Technology, The Peddie School, Blair Academy, and Montclair State University along with numerous design firms and advertising agencies.

Along with the work I do for the University, I also make photographs for myself that are exhibited and published. I am regularly asked to speak about my work to groups of photographers and also lead workshops for other photographers interested in photographing people in public spaces. You can see more of my personal work here:


Still Photography
Adobe: Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom
Macintosh Computers
Color Management
Database Management



Research Projects

The Dream

I began this project as a search in which I didn't know what I was looking for. All I knew for sure was that I was deeply unsettled by many of the events that seemed to come right after the turn of this new millennium. The terror of September 11 had left its indelible mark on our national psyche and there seemed to be some confusion as to how to move forward. I felt greatly unsettled and was interested in photographing what it looked and felt like to be in this place, at this time.

As a response to the preoccupation by the media with those at the extremes of the social order, I was most interested in photographing those people who were in stuck in the middle. The people with the most to lose and least to fall back on, those who make and do, the hard working people whose behind the scenes efforts are integral to this daily theater we call life.

I decided to keep my photographic wandering within a part of the world that I knew intimately and that were all within a few miles of The World Trade Center site. I grew up in Kearny, a place where people settle for a little while on their way somewhere else. Coney Island is the playground of the working class, whose only constant seems to be change. Ridgefield Park seems to be a place where change is slower, and because of a deep sense of connection and pride, people stay.

Throughout my journey, I found faces, which led me to questions. I wondered what each face had seen throughout its life, and how it had been transformed by the experiences and emotions of the person behind it. The faces I saw made me imagine the stories that each could tell, stories far more fascinating, complex and challenging than can be found in any fiction, or supermarket tabloid.

Despite the difficulties of the past ten years, or maybe because of them, it seemed that there was ample evidence that people were still expressing The American Dream through the things they did in public. Working; playing; raising a family; being with friends; showing allegiances; living the ordinary life of an average American. For the people I've photographed, life has not gotten any easier in the past ten years, and I suspect that the next ten will bring little relief. Yet, I get a sense that there is still hope for the future, but it is tempered with the fear that our best days may be behind us. Moving forward, the true test will be to see if the winner of this national struggle will be the brightness of hope, or the darkness of fear.

I hope these photographs do more than just show what was in front of me, but that they give you a sense of how I feel about what I see, and what it is to be an American in the twenty-first century.

Mike Peters