John R. Pepper was born in Rome, Italy in 1958 to Curtis Bill Pepper, a war correspondent and the head of the Rome bureau for Newsweek magazine, and the sculptor Beverly Pepper. He studied History of Art at Princeton University (1976) where he was also one of the original painting members of the '185 Nassau Street Painting Program' and was awarded the Whitney Painting Fellowship in 1975. In 1981 Pepper was admitted as a 'Directing Fellow' to The American Film Institute, Los Angeles. Pepper has married twice and has two sons (Sheppard, 1990, and Jameson, 1993) from his first marriage.
Pepper began his career as an apprentice to Ugo Mulas who gave him his first formal training in the art of street photography. Pepper pursued his work in photography (analogical) for three decades all while directing theatre and film. His show 'Rome: 1969 – An Hommage to Italian Neo-Realist Cinema' (USA/France 2008) lead him back to his native Italy where Lanterna Magica Edizioni published the book 'Sans Papier' (Italy 2011) with subsequent exhibits in Rome,Venice, Saint Petersburg (Russia), Paris, Palermo (Sicily). In 2012 the Manège Museum in Saint Petersburg, (Russia) shows Peppers new work of which in 2014 the Istituto Superiore Per la Storia della Fotografia (Italy) publishes a new book of photographs, 'Evaporations' that previews at the Galleria Studio Paolo Morello (Palermo, Italy) and at the Officina delle Zattere in Venice (Italy). In 2015, the Italian Institute of Culture and the Russia Federation Ministry of Culture sponsor a traveling exhibition that opens at the Rosphoto Photography Museum (Saint Petersburg, Russia). In March 2015 Pepper has a retrospective exhibit at the Showcase Gallery in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Also in May 2015 ‘Evaporations’ shows at the ‘PhotoMed’ photography festival in Sanary Sur Mer (France). The Italian Institute of Culture and The United States Mission in Russia sponsor a travelling exhibition (2015/2016) of 'Evaporations' throughout Siberia, Russia (Vladivostok, Irkutsk,. Novosibirsk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg, Samara and Moscow. In 2016, Simultaneous to 'Evaporations' in Moscow Pepper exhibits of new prints of 'Rome 1969' at The Art of Foto Gallery in Saint Petersburg. In 2017 Pepper will be publishing his new book "Desert/Draught" on deserts.