Affable surf photographer and writer, best known for a popular series of Surfer magazine travel articles written with surf partner Kevin Naughton in the 1970s and '80s. Peterson was born (1955) in Washington, D.C., the son of an air force officer and artist mother, grew up in Maryland and Puerto Rico, moved with his family in 1962 to Huntington Beach, and began surfing at 10. At 16 he met Naughton, a slightly older Laguna Beach surfer, and a few months later the two were traveling through Central America in Peterson's 10-year-old VW Bug.
Surfer magazine published the first installment of what would soon be called the "Naughton-Peterson adventures" in 1973. Both surfers wrote the text while Peterson—who'd had his first photo published in a 1970 issue of Surfing magazine—took pictures. Surfer ran 13 Naughton-Peterson stories between 1973 to 1989 (nine of them prior to 1979), each one a light, funny, good-natured account from an exotic or semi-exotic port of call, including Senegal, Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, El Salvador, Fiji, and Barbados.
Peterson became a Surfer staff photographer in 1973, remained on the masthead until 1984, and produced six cover shots, three of them from his travels with Naughton. "Fiji: A South Pacific Wave Garden," Naughton and Peterson's 1984 Surfer feature, introduced the surf world at large to the perfect surf at Tavarua, Fiji. Two of the Naughton-Peterson journeys were listed in Surfer magazine's 1995 article "The 10 Greatest Surf Trips of All Time."
During his travels, Peterson worked as a gemologist in Sydney, a ski lift operator in Switzerland, and a boat captain in western Africa. He later worked as the photo editor for Windsurf magazine and for Action Sports Retailer magazine. Peterson's photography has appeared in a number of illustrated surfing books, including Stoked: A History of Surf Culture (1997), SurfRiders (1997), and The Perfect Day (2001). The Far Shore, a documentary on the Naughton-Peterson travels, was produced in 2002.