Peggy Farren operates a thriving portrait and wedding studio in Naples, Florida. Peggy started her photography career as a wedding photographer and videographer and her work has been published nationally and internationally.
Peggy opened her studio, Avant-Garde Images, Inc., 10 years ago.
Peggy is also the owner of Photography Naples School, offering
classes, workshops, photography excursions and private lessons to
the growing number of photographers and enthusiasts throughout
Florida. Her fun personality and patient teaching style have helped
many photographers get their start and improve their both their
photography and their businesses.
Tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
My name is Peggy Farren. I’ve been a professional photographer for about 13 years. I was raised in Michigan and I’ve been in Naples, Florida for almost 18 years. I was a salesperson before getting into photography.
Why did you start taking photos?
I always loved taking pictures but never thought about
photography as a career until I fell into a part-time job as an
assistant to a wedding photographer. I mostly carried the bags! I
started taking classes on my own and eventually started taking
photographs and video at that company.
What inspired you to turn it into a business?
I worked for the other company for about three
years. After a while, it was time to start my own company.
Why are you fascinated with weddings?
There are so many things I love about photographing weddings. One
is that every one of them is so different. The decor, the dresses,
the personalities, the venues – they all change with every wedding.
I challenge myself at every wedding to try to come up with unique
and creative photographs so that each of my clients will have her
own “look” to her wedding photographs.
Sometimes my assistant and I will have “themes” such as
reflections or frame within a frame or textures or extreme closeups.
We have so much fun at weddings!
I also am a people person so I love meeting all the new people. I
love the music at the receptions. I love to catch pictures of people
How do you capture the love and feeling of a wedding?
This is so funny that you ask. Everyone teases me because when I
am posing, I say “I want to feel the love!”. For the family
portraits, I’ll often ask them to do a group hug. I get wonderful
smiles and feel the love of the family.
For the bride and groom, this mostly involves them looking at
each other. Touching the face is soooo sexy. Eyes closed, leaning
into each other is another awesome “pose” to feel love. Having fun
together, smiling and laughing – running down the beach, the groom
picking up the bride, doing the “dip” while looking at each other.
Q: I bet you can tell me about some challenges you faced
or awkward circumstances. Tell me about some memorable moments.
Do you mean the “F” word brides? ha ha I’ve had quite a few
brides melt down and have hissy fits before their weddings. They
almost always calm down once the ceremony happens. The one exception was the 19 year old bride who tried to get an alcoholic drink at the cocktail hour. She had a screaming, swearing fit when the bartender refused to serve her because she was underage. That was certainly an awkward circumstance – especially for all the guests!
Believe it or not, I’ve seen several groomsmen faint at weddings.
They get so hungover and then have to stand out in the hot sun on
the beach. It’s hot and they don’t always make it!
The most interesting wedding I had was in 2004 on Sanibel/Captiva
Islands. This poor couple had to change churches last minute due to
hurricane damage at their church. They hired several trolleys to
shuttle their guests from the church to the reception. I was on the
trolley with the bride, groom and attendants. We heard a loud thump
then “OH MY GOD, THAT WAS A PEDESTRIAN!” The trolley hit a
pedestrian who was crossing the street!
The driver checked the pedestrian, who was alive and conscious
and then drove us to the reception. He went back after he dropped us
off. I never did find out what happened to the pedestrian but he
didn’t die or I would have heard!
BTW – this wedding also had one of my favorite first dances! The
bride and groom danced to Bon Jovi’s “I’ll be there for you”. All
the guests crowded around the dance floor and sung all the words
really loud. It was awesome!
What are some other photographic projects you enjoy
I started a photography school about a year ago called
“Photography Naples”. It’s been so much fun learning nature
photography, HDR, night landscapes, food photography and fashion
photography. Working in all these different types of photography has
kept me fresh! It’s been fun to incorporate some of my new skills
into wedding photography.
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and
how do you select your equipment?
When I started my company, I invested in two good Canon L series
2.8 lenses – the 24-70mm and the 70-200 mm. I carry one camera on
each shoulder using those two lenses during every wedding ceremony.
I shoot with both cameras so that I have a backup of the ceremony if
anything should go wrong with either of them.
Once you invest in good lenses, you really can’t switch so I’ve
been with Canon all along.
I primarily use Canon 5Ds but I also have a 30D, 60D and an old
10D converted to digital infrared. We bring a lot of gear to
weddings including our fisheye lens. We use on camera flash during
the ceremony and a mix of off and on camera flash for the formals
Can you name some tips for those who want to start a
wedding photography business?
- Have a good business plan. Get the proper licenses,
insurance, bank accounts, etc. You need to know how many
weddings it will take to pay for your initial investment and
then how much you’ll need to charge and how many weddings you
will need to make a profit.
- Marketing, marketing, marketing and more marketing.
This is a really competitive business!
- Have enough backup equipment. Equipment malfunctions
are more common than you think!
- Join your local professional photography guild and
local wedding association and go to the meetings! If people like
you, they’ll refer you.
- Don’t lowball your prices. Start with “average”
prices. If you start with super discounted packages, you’ll
brand yourself as a low end photographer and it will be hard to
change your reputation.
- Have great relationships with the other vendors. Make
sure they get pictures from weddings you’ve done together.
Choose one or two favorite venues and market to them. You can’t
possibly call on all the vendors so make sure you are in the
minds of at least two busy wedding venues. Drop off
cookies/donuts, send them pictures, etc. Send thank you cards,
become their Facebook friends.
Thanks for a wonderful insight into your world, Peggy and
great success moving forward!
You can see more of Peggy Farren’s work at Avant-Garde Images, Inc.
at www.naplesportraits.com or give her a call at (239) 263-7001.
Information about her Photography Club and Workshops:
More Wedding Photography from Peggy Farren