A South Carolina veteran turned photographer reflects on his decade in the military, the injury that altered the course of his career and the new life he’s built in the multimedia and photography world.
Timothy “Chad” McPeters, a Marion native and U.S. Army veteran of 11 years, was rather blunt when describing what led him to the military.
“It was always something that I’d wanted to do,” said McPeters. “I knew that I just wanted to be a part of it in some way.”
A 1994 graduate of McDowell High School, McPeters enlisted for the U.S. Army the previous year under the delayed enlistment program as a non-commissioned officer in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. Spending four years stateside as a combat medic, McPeters was later reassigned to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Pan Mun Jom, South Korea in 2000 as part of the United Nations Command Security Battalion, the unified command structure to support South Korea during and after the Korean War.
“Part of my assignment was to take care of the Korean population inside the DMZ as well as the soldiers that worked in and out of the area,” said McPeters.
However, McPeters’ military career would take a drastic turn, as an encounter with a landmine on May 17, 2001 would result in the injury and later amputation of his right foot.
Following surgery and a 90-day stay in the hospital, McPeters would spend the next four years back at Fort Bragg rehabilitating his body and finishing out the rest of his military career.
“I spent 11 years in the Army, almost all of it at Fort Bragg,” said McPeters. “But a lot of people talk about how the military doesn’t take care of their veterans – they do.”
Retiring from the Army in 2005, McPeters later enrolled at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he graduated in 2010 with a degree in marine biology, a decision based off an avid interest in fishing.
“I’ve always liked to fish, and the Army helped facilitate being able to go to college and study it,” said McPeters. “I love to fish, but saltwater fishing for big redfish in shallow water is probably my favorite.”
McPeters would parlay this interest into a career as a fish biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Northern California between Jan. 2011 and Aug. 2012. From there, his life would take two new directions in 2014, when he would meet his future wife Valerie DeMasi while traveling across the country and would begin his eventual career as a photographer.
“I’ve always been into photography, practically my whole life,” said McPeters. “My parents were great photographers and I’d always liked taking photos and it just went from there. I love contributing to people’s hopes and dreams with my creativity.”
Today, McPeters currently runs two photography and web design companies out of Mount Pleasant, S.C.: Tidewater Creative Media and Tidewater Photography, respectively.
Balancing multiple projects at once, McPeters offers a variety of services to the public that vary from wedding photographs, headshots, family and child portraits to marketing consultation and video production for sites such as Red Fin Charters, Toadfish Outfitters and MCC Unite.
“I strive to create visual imagery that represents the subject in the most beautiful way possible,” he writes on his website. “My designs blend emotion and energy to make impressions that are as brilliant 10 years from now as they are today.”
As of the Oct. 17 interview, McPeters is enjoying his new life in Mount Pleasant with DeMasi, a 15-month-old daughter Josephine Annabella McPeters and another child on the way, reflecting on the peaks and valleys of his experiences with no reservations.
“Life is wonderful; I’m blessed to live the life that I do,” said McPeters. “I don’t regret any part of my service to my neighbors and friends and family. This is the kind of life I wanted, and it has its consequences, but you just have to roll with it."