Terence Pepper trained as a lawyer and librarian before joining the National Portrait Gallery in 1975. Between 1978 and 2014, he was curator of photographs and an exhibition organizer at the gallery. Currently he is senior special advisor on photographs and works part time preparing an exhibition featuring photographs of Audrey Hepburn for summer 2015.
His first exhibition was Camera Portraits by E.O. Hoppé (1978). Since then he has organized a wide range of exhibitions on individual photographers who took iconic portraits, including Norman Parkinson (1981), Helmut Newton and Alice Springs (1988), Lewis Morley (1989), Clarence Sinclair Bull (1989), Dorothy Wilding (1991), James Abbe (1995) Henri Cartier-Bresson (1998), Horst (2001), Cecil Beaton (2004) and Angus McBean (2006). His group shows include Edwardian Women Photographers, High Society: Photographs 1897-1914, and Icons of Pop (1999).
In 2008 he co-curated Vanity Fair Portraits, winning the Lucie Award for curator of the year, together with David Friend. His most recent exhibition, Man Ray: Portraits (2013-14), was shown in London, Edinburgh (where it was nominated for a Lucie Award) and the Pushkin Museum, Moscow. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and awarded an OBE for services to photography and art, in 2002, and is an annual judge for the National Portrait Gallery's Photographic Portrait Prize.