Born and raised in Las Vegas, Lucas Peltier (’21 BA Journalism and Media Studies) spent much of his childhood competing in sports but now spends most days (and nights) documenting them — from behind a lens. The official photographer of the UNLV athletics department, Peltier also works for the city’s professional soccer team the Las Vegas Lights FC, shoots various events for USA Today Sports, and serves a slew of freelance clients. It’s quite a career path for someone who earned his associate degree in accounting before eventually pivoting to journalism for his bachelor's.
Is this what you thought you’d do when you grew up?
No, absolutely not. Growing up my goal was to make the U.S. Olympic team for taekwondo and then pursue a career in sports medicine.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I took photography as an elective in college. I never picked up a camera before and the first thing I shot was a UNLV women’s soccer game. I wasn’t good at all, but I got one decent photo – and I fell in love with it. After that, I kept going to as many games as I could, trying to get better, and I later realized this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Who were some early mentors?
I had a few amazing professors at UNLV. Jim Laurie and Vernetta Thomas were my first photography professors [in the Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies] and they taught me the fundamentals of photography, as well as inspired me to pursue a career in it. Jon Castagnino was another former professor who had a big influence in my career. I was a part of his student-run sports broadcast, "Rebel Report," at the time and his organization helped me gain more experience in the sports industry.
In this age of camera phones, why are professional photographers still important?
I could get very technical here but at the end of the day it’s about quality. While camera phones are convenient, they’re not for producing a photo intended for a magazine or billboard. From a sports photographer’s perspective, I’m not going to get a high-quality photo across a football field with a camera phone.
What is it like to shoot for your alma mater?
It means a lot to me, especially being able to photograph the student-athletes. I get to capture some important moments in their lives and watch them grow as people. That makes what I do a dream job.
Is it hard getting the perfect shot during a big play because you are also excited as an alumnus?
Sometimes, especially if it is a close game. I don’t want to miss a game-winning play but at the same time I’ve gotten to know most of our student-athletes so I’m always rooting for them on the sidelines.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I write fictional stories in my spare time. I also studied creative writing in college, and it’s become a hobby.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Photographers that compare camera brands way too much. It’s more about the photographer’s vision that makes a photo interesting and not the camera; that’s my opinion anyway.
What was the last TV show you binge-watched, or band you kept on replay?
I binge-watched Andor recently on Disney+. I’m a big Star Wars fan by default. My parents named me after George Lucas, so I’m kind of obligated to watch it.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Probably Crumbl Cookies. The selection changes every Sunday, and I know this because I have the app on my phone. They’re dangerous.
You get to travel to games with the Rebel football team. What is the best road trip you have taken?
Notre Dame was definitely one of the more memorable stadiums I’ve photographed at but Hawaii was the best road trip last season. I had not seen the ocean in a long time, or bodies of water in general.
Where is your favorite place to shoot in Las Vegas (non-sports)?
Downtown around the Las Vegas Arts District. It’s a great place for street photography.
What is something people not from here need to know about Las Vegas?
The city has changed a lot. When I was a kid, I used to be jealous of other cities that had professional sports teams, but now there are sports teams everywhere.