Tips + Techniques

Shadow, Light, and Reflection: Getting Ready with the Groom and his Sons 

June 19, 2024

By Abbey Pleviak

Wedding getting-ready rooms can be dark, small, cluttered, and hard to light, but Chris Gandy and Sam Rose of Isle & Oak Photography have consistently applied themselves to finding unique ways to draw out the depths of shadow and make challenging light interesting. They’ve built their signature look on manipulating shadow, light, and sometimes reflection for documentary-style storytelling that is artistic and conceptual.  

The duo are Rangefinder 30 Rising Stars of 2024, and the image they share for this article is one they are obsessed with because of its perfect balance, lush shadows, interesting light, and use of reflective surface. Most of all, they are proud of how the idea for it popped into Chris’ mind and how he perfectly executed it. His conception of it is the result of years of dedication to push beyond the urge to gravitate to tried-and-true techniques and compositions and instead “to grow and elevate [their] approach.” 

© Isle & Oak Photography

The Groom’s Reflection 

Sam notes that the photographic duo “have always been a huge advocate for equal attention during the morning, or ‘getting ready’ portion, of a wedding day.” It’s common for brides to get more attention, but they firmly believe the groom and his loved ones should not be overlooked and should receive equal attention.  

In this sequence, Chris was spending the morning with the groom and his sons, using the natural light coming through the hotel room’s window. When Chris turned to photograph the groom’s sons, he noticed the groom’s reflection in the mirror on the opposite side of the room. He suddenly envisioned the groomsmen in the foreground with the mirrored reflection of the groom as the focal point for this group shot. He quickly arranged them into alignment then made a final tweak to put them all in profile. The groom is spotlighted by the window light, while his groomsmen supportively frame him from the shadows. 

© Isle & Oak Photography

Make Space for Creativity to Emerge 

Sam and Chris advise wedding photographers to be involved in the wedding planning process, encouraging the couple to create space in the wedding day schedule for photographs to happen. Sam says, “We intentionally have our couples place buffers and ‘down time’ in their timelines to eliminate as much rush as possible throughout the day. Buffers in a timeline eliminate stress and afford the photographer time to conceptualize and create. If our entire day with this couple was spent running from one spot to another, this image would never have happened.” 

Additionally, they encourage photographers to give equal opportunity to both members of the couple during the wedding morning.  

© Isle & Oak Photography

Emotion, Authenticity, and the Mood for Love 

As Vancouver, BC, photographers, Isle & Oak pride themselves on capturing images that celebrate the breathtaking scenery of the Pacific Northwest and also the beautiful humans within it and their love. As members of the LGBTQ+ community, they’ve also dedicated themselves to creating a portfolio that is diverse in representation of all kinds of humans and all kinds of love.  

Creating a safe space is paramount to their client experience, and they strive to not just be wedding photographers, but to also assist in wedding planning, including sourcing locations and helping to develop the timeline for the big day. Sam says, “The nature of our job means that we are present for countless interactions with loved ones, and it’s important that we lead our approach with empathy and love, so our couples know they can trust us to respectfully document each and every moment.” The result of this dedication is not just deeply evocative and authentic storytelling images. Often the result is also lifelong friendships. 

Follow Chris Gandy, Sam Rose, and Isle & Oak Photography on Instagram. View the full 30 Rising Star Winners Gallery for 2024. 


As a thank you to our readers, we’re pleased to offer you a Rangefinder exclusive discount code to get 25% off The Portrait Masters course below. Use the code RF25 at check out to redeem. This code cannot be used in combination with other sales.