Interview with… Chad M. Pelton

Photos by Chad M. Pelton


Chad M. Pelton is a Knoxville, TN-based book designer, photographer, and collage artist currently concentrating on three bodies of photo work: Appalachian Vernacular/Landscape, Window Reflections, and a photo essay based on the poetry of Jesse Graves.

Utilizing a Medium Format rangefinder camera and car, Pelton drives the surrounding Appalachian roads making observations of the everyday (objects and places sometimes overlooked) as a means to document our region and its profound effect on the way we live and work. The work illustrates personal stories through landscape, collected objects, refuse, and ephemera.


Pelton has designed books for the University of Tennessee Press, the Knoxville Writers’ Guild, and jwlawson Fine Art. His work is held in private collections, has been exhibited in galleries in Milwaukee, New York, and throughout the Appalachian region. His work has also appeared online, and in print via Knoxville alt-weekly the Metro Pulse. Current projects are being documented for publication via his independent publishing house, REFUSE! Press.

1)Can you tell us something about you?
I like film over digital, records over CDs, paper over plastic, and I like old things.


2) Where do you live and work now?
I live in East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, in the city of Knoxville. I currently work as a book designer.


3) How long have you been a photographer?
I got my first camera when I was 10 or 11, but I didn’t get really interested until the late 90’s when I was working in Idaho. My friend Lawson sent me a book on photography, and I borrowed an old Nikkormat from my father to play around with. My interest has grown ever since.


4) How did you get into photography?
I started taking shots of my work (at the time I was doing research on grizzly bears in northern Idaho), and I started carrying a camera with me everywhere I went. I wanted to document what was happening in my life at any given moment. It was an exciting time.


5) Where your inspiration comes from?
My inspiration comes from a love of the outdoors, an interest in the Appalachian region of the US, and a sincere interest in the daily objects, people, and places that we often overlook.


6) What does it mean for you streetphotography?
Street photography to me is the idea of having a camera with me all the time, and making art out of the situations my brain is drawn to.


7) Can you tell us something about your portraits, what’s is important to focus for you?
I don’t do very many portraits. I guess my portraits are more of places than people. I like to gather information about people through their surroundings, and the places or objects that they live and work in.


8.) What are your future works, do you have a special project?
I am working on a series of photos to accompany a friend’s poetry, a series that focuses on windows, and also have an ongoing project with my friend jw lawson, where we travel to different “river towns” in the Eastern US to spend a few days drinking beer and making art.








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