Legendary Lake Tahoe wedding photographer dies in climbing accident

vern wiley 1Vernon Wiley, one of the most creative wedding photographers in the business, died on July 13 at Eagle Lake in Tahoe while waiting for the right lighting as he was taking pictures.

Wiley was 42, and lived in Truckee with his wife and son Logan. His last message to his wife Ashley was a text from the rocks. While he was waiting for the perfect light, Vernon took photos of himself , one of which which have shown here.  The last photo Vernon sent to Ashley was of him sitting above a blue Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay, his feet clad in climbing shoes. Detective-Coroner Jacob Groen of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said their Search and Rescue team, along with the California Highway Patrol responded to Ashley Wiley’s call to check on her missing husband at around 6:00 a.m. on July 14 and subsequently found Vernon’s body.

Over the years, Lakefront Wedding featured some of his photos, and they were amazing.

Here is message posted on his facebook page after his death, capturing the essence of a local favorite:

Vernon was a truly unique soul. He shined in social settings, but was rarely comfortable. He was a quick and incredibly accurate judge of character. He felt most at home with those that laughed easily at his jokes. He always considered the real start to his life when he found climbing. He ate, breathed, and slept climbing for years and forged friendships that were made of trust and vern wiley 3adventure. He let very few people into his inner circle, but once there, he was loyal for life. Climbing brought him to the people he called brothers. He spent years living in Yosemite and Bishop happily devoting himself to rocks and mountains.

He and his wife met in the summer of 2003. After Vernon hiked 42 miles in a day to bring her a food drop on the JMT, Ashley asked Vernon out. They moved in together the next day and spent as little time apart as they could manage. Vernon shared with Ashley his love of climbing. Ashley shared with Vernon her love for cold mountain lakes and snowboarding. They maintained a date day where they got out at least every week to play for 13 years. It kept them connected, passionate, and best friends. Their love was like no other.

They moved to Tahoe where Vernon became apart of the incredible wedding community as a photographer. With the help of his best friend, Matt Theilend, Vernon became an award winning vern wiley 2wedding photographer. He also became very successful and well known in the stock industry with Getty Images and Istock. He was the envy of all his friends since a week in the back country was his work and he made a very solid life from it.

In 2009 Vernon became a father. A light turned on in him that was incredible to see. He embraced Logan’s childhood as if he was reliving his own. He never lost patience with his son and loved him loudly and fiercely. Logan’s school principal recently told Logan and Ashley, “I’ve worked with thousands and thousands of dads over the years. Your dad was the best and most active father I have ever seen. You were incredibly lucky”. Logan’s response, “Ya, I know”.

Over the last 5 years, Vernon trained hard for The World’s Toughest Mudder. He was currently training for his 5th WTM. He had a love hate relationship with the training but loved the sport and the amazing community.

Vernon Wiley was so much to so many. To some he was everything. He found peace in the mountains, life on the edge of a cliff, home in the hearts of his wife and son, and adventure in the wind. He will be forever missed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Vernon Wiley.  The Lake Tahoe wedding industry lost a special man.