Our Free Engagement Shoots | — Ken and Vesta —

Our Free Engagement Shoots

Hello, Vesta here, If you’ve looked through our website, you know that we like the work we do. On this page, I thought I’d say something about our contests and the free engagement shoots we do and to highlight some of them.

But before I go any further, I’d like to say that our contest winners get the exact same engagement sessions we charge $300 dollars for. Ken and I don’t take less photos or treat you any differently, just because you’re one of our contest winners.

Just like our paid engagement sessions, you get a consultation, where we go over the kind of photographs you’d like and what kind of clothes will make you look your absolute best in your portraits. Then we do a portrait session in the studio and following that, a lifestyle session in beautiful San Rafael Park.

For our paid engagement shoots, we go all over Northern Nevada and California, from gorgeous Lake Tahoe all the way to Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley. But, we have to limit our contest winners to San Rafael Park, because it’s close and it’s gorgeous all year round.

However, if you win one of our free engagement shoots and want to go up to Lake Tahoe or further afield, we will be glad to do it, but we’ll have to charge $100 for the time and travel. We hope you understand.


Vesta Irene, Camera in Hand


When we draw the winners for our free engagement shoots after every wedding show, we never know who we’re going to meet. The couples are always very nice and very appreciative of the fact that they won, but sometimes we never see them again. However, sometimes they become fast friends. It’s strange how life is. It really is.

Every year we do two or three wedding shows or bridal faires as some are called. We dress up and stand in front of our booth and greet future brides and grooms. This is something we really like to do, me especially, because I get to meet couples in love, couples who will soon be married.

Yes, we’re there, because we’re looking for clients and yes, if you’re a wedding photographer, going to wedding shows is something you should do, but we don’t look at it like work, because we have so much fun doing it.


Arielie and Nathan 054


At every bridal show we have a drawing for four free engagement shoots. Devon, the other love of my life—it’s okay to have more than one, especially if one of them is twelve—picks the winner. He’s been doing it for the last five years.

When we first started, we only had one winner, then we decided during the third drawing to change it to four, because that’s how many tickets Devon pulled out of the jar. It didn’t seem fair to put three back or to do it over, so we called all four and told the they were the winner.


Erica and Cesar 077a


And all four brides were over the moon happy and I was too, because we’d made them so happy, Ken and me. It was so much fun calling them. And we enjoyed doing their engagement shoots so much, that we decided to have four winners from now on.

I remember when we did our first drawing. Shirley, the woman who puts on the bridal faire at the Reno Sparks Convention Center asked us if we’d give some kind of prize to a lucky bride and we thought it was good idea, but we didn’t know what. We decided on a drawing, but we didn’t know what to give the winner.


Leah and Brian


We had a blender we’d never used that was still in the box and Ken thought we could give that, but I nixed that stupid idea straightaway. “We’re photographers,” I told him, “We’re not giving away no stinking blender.”

“Okay, how about a photo shoot?”

“An engagement shoot!” I said. And that’s what we did. And we had so much fun doing it, giving something to a couple in love that they could treasure forever, that we decided to keep on doing it at every wedding show we do.


Cassi and Josh 301


And of all the photography we do, I think I like engagement sessions the best. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love shooting weddings. But oftentimes, it’s the engagement session where we first meet a couple in love. And oftentimes, they only have eyes for each other and when that’s the case, if I can capture that certain look, then I go home with a smile in my heart and it lasts clear through to the next morning and through the next day and often longer. And it comes back and stays with me when I’m processing the photos.


Hannah and Nathan 301


In fact, I like doing engagement sessions so much that I’ve convinced Ken to give away four free ones as a prize every time we exhibit at a wedding show. So if you come by our booth at one of Reno’s wedding shows or faires, please put your name in our jar, you could be a winner.

We have been having our engagement drawings at Reno’s wedding shows for four years now and I’ve met some wonderful people as a result and some of them have become very good friends and I just love it when that happens.


Corrie and Brent 301


As for what our engagement sessions entail and where we shoot them. Well, you usually get somewhere between seventy-five and a hundred photos, which are usually taken somewhere in photogenic Reno. If you click on any or some or all of the blue links under the red letters, you can read some of my engagement stories and see a few photos from some of our sessions along with them.

There are a lot of places in Reno, where you might want your engagement photos taken. We’ve worked quite a bit in Rancho San Rafael Park, because it’s beautiful all year round, summer, winter, spring or fall, we can always get beautiful shots in that park.


Ayrhianna and Nate 301


Idlewild Park is always beautiful too and we’ve done quite a few sessions there as well. We shoot at Bartley Ranch also and that’s especially nice if a couple wants a rustic or western look for their photographs. And we like shooting on Caughlin Ranch Road, just west of McCarran and we do a lot of engagement shooting downtown by the gorgeous Truckee River.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the jewel, engagement photography wise, of our area and that is, of course, Lake Tahoe. From Kings Beach to Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe is simply a stunning and gorgeous backdrop for an engagement shoot.


Katie and Pat Square a


We think engagement photos are wonderful for a couple to have, because they document an important time in their lives. They can be used for save the date cards. We’ve seen them blown up and used to show off the happy couple at wedding receptions. One couple had a different photo on the end of each church pew for people to look at as they passed by to get their seats at their ceremony. We’ve seen them displayed on the dining tables at receptions and we’ve seen them used on a few couples websites and I’m sure there are other uses, that I haven’t thought of.


Me and Ken and Our Romance

Somewhere on our website, I wanted to write a few words about me and Ken and this seemed like a good a place as any. And you know what? I think I picked this spot, because I don't have Engagement Photos to look back on and I kind of wish I did.


Vesta Irene with Camera


Ken and I didn’t have a big wedding. We eloped to Mexico. That may not sound very romantic, but it was. Ken had to borrow gas money from my father, who wasn’t very sure us getting married was the right idea, because I’d only been out of high school for about five minutes. But we were in love and he knew it, so he loaned us the cash.

As for transportation, Ken had to borrow a car too, because he’d spun out going around my corner on a rainy day, trying to impress me with his driving skills. He was going too fast, lost control and spun into the curb. He destroyed something called an a frame on his car and it was in the garage getting fixed.

In Tijuana, we found the justice of the peace and told him what we wanted and he smiled a smile that was a block wide. We were not the first kids from California who wanted to tie the knot in his little office.

“The first thing you have to do,” the magistrate said, in very good English, “is to get a witness, because without one, your marriage won’t be legal in Mexico and if it’s not legal here, it won’t be legal in America either.”

“But we don’t have anyone.” Ken looked nervous.

“I know just the man,” the magistrate winked. “I’ve used him before.” He left his office by the front door and came back about a minute later. “He is always on the bench just down the street, near the Long Bar.” The Long Bar was a saloon Ken and I liked to go to. Yes, this wasn’t our first trip across the border, we liked to party sometimes and we were too young to do it in America and besides, Mexico is just so much fun.

The man with the magistrate was drunker than a skunk on a bad day. His rummy red eyes were happy eyes and though he hadn’t shaved or bathed in a while, his smile was innocence personified and I liked him immediately.

Yes, our wedding was south of the border with just a Mexican magistrate, a happy drunk and us in attendance, just about as small a wedding as it’s possible to have. But it was wonderful. I just wish we would have had some photos, but we didn’t take up photography for a couple more years and we were just too much in love to think about pictures.

But even though our wedding was small, it’s not the size of the wedding that matters. A hundred thousand dollar wedding won’t buy you what we have, that takes more than money. However, that being said, there is nothing better on this green and blue earth, nothing more fun, nothing more satisfying, nothing more enjoyable than a fine wedding.

Wedding Shots Wedding Photography, Reno, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Sacramento. Please email weddingshots@speedpost.net or call 775 393-9529.