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about beyond the well™

A lot of people ask: what does "beyond the well™" mean?

We created Beyond The Well™ Photography based upon our shared love of art and photography. While we do have academic training in the techinical aspects of photography, we feel it's our inherent creative nature and passion for our work which drives the creation and style of the images you see.

We have something of a lifelong collaboration working together as artists, photographers and husband+wife. We named our collaboration "the well" as if our outpouring into this world is like a bucket of water pulled up from a well. We chose "beyond the well™" because of our belief that our lives should reflect our relationship with Christ. Our faith is an important part of our life and defines who we are. We want our wedding couples to know that we do not discriminate in any way. In fact, we support marriage equality for all. We photograph wedding celebrations of all types of faiths and non-faiths as well as same-sex weddings. We just want the love you hold for each other to shine through on your wedding day!

Feel free to stay awhile, and if you do, please drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you!

- WeddingChicks.com Preferred Vendor 2010, 2011, 2012
- EmmalineBride.com Preferred Photographer 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- Inside Wedding Magazine Editor's Circle 2009
- Top 100 WPJA Photographer 2008, 2011: Karen Bridges
- Top 100 WPJA Photographer 2009: Nathan Bridges
- Top 20 WPJA Photographers Q1 2009: Nathan Bridges
- WeddingWire.com Bride's Choice Award 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- Best of OneWed.com 2008
- Published in the book Wedding Photography: A Guide To Posing (Oliver Cameron Publishing)

frequently asked questions

What is your photographic style?
We describe our style as a mix of wedding photojournalism and creative portraiture. We unobtrusively capture the real moments that happen on your wedding day as well as artfully craft your wedding day portraits so that you have an accurate yet unique record of your day. We don't over process the images with faux effects. Years down the road we want you to be able to remember your wedding day more true to how it really unfolded and not distorted as if through a filter. If this philosophy of ours aligns with yours, then we may be the perfect fit to be your wedding photographers.

Why should I hire you over other husband-wife and two-photographer teams?
It might surprise you to know that not all two-photographer teams are created equal. Some are simply a primary photographer and a warm body to hold a camera around his/her neck who, with some rare exceptions, does not have near the experience or skill level of the primary photographer. It's important to ask your photographer if they can properly invest in you what you've invested in them. If a photographer says they don't care much for the "business" side of photography, then he/she might not operating a legal business with the proper insurances, registrations and backup equipment. Don't forget to ask any photographer you meet with if they have those things. (Yes, we are insured, registered and collect sales tax. We also bring plenty of professional backup equipment with us to every event.)

With us, you have the benefit of working with two, equally skilled photographers who also have the understanding of what it's like to go through the wedding process together. We've been working together exclusively for over 8 years, and many two-photographer teams simply cannot say the same.

What are your qualifications?
We studied fine art and photography at the college level: Nathan at Illinois State and Karen at UW-Milwaukee. We started shooting weddings together in January 2006, and have been full-time photographers ever since. We've photographed a couple hundred weddings since we started, and we got hitched ourselves in July 2006 so we know what it's like to go through the process of getting married.

Our photographs have earned us college scholarships and awards. One of Nathan's photographs was featured as the "Back Story" in Popular Photography and Imaging Magazine in November 2006. Our award-winning images from the Wedding Photojournalist Association can be found in the galleries of this site as well as on www.wpja.com. Great photographers come from all different educational backgrounds. Ultimately, we believe our work speaks best to our qualifications.

Will both photographers be at our wedding?
Yes, both of us (Nathan and Karen) will photograph your wedding. Should one of us fall ill, a competent and professional replacement will be present as the second photographer. This is also stated in our wedding agreement, and we have a large network of photographer friends to call on in case of emergency.

Where are you located? How far are you willing to travel?
Currently, we are located in Central Illinois, but we regularly travel for weddings. A few of our frequent wedding travel stops include Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, St. Louis, and Denver. We've photographed mountain weddings in Vermont, Colorado, Oregon and California and international destination weddings in Mexico and the Caribbean. We're pretty much up for anything and our passports are current. (We often describe ourselves as "extreme destination wedding photographers". Ask us, we have tales to tell!)

We will travel anywhere in Northern and Central Illinois at no additional cost (includes Chicago). We also travel to Milwaukee/Madison (Southern and Southeast Wisconsin) at no additional cost. Weddings in the Denver/Ft. Collins/Colorado Springs incur no additional cost with a minimum investment. Southern IL/St, Louis, NorthCentral Wisconsin and other close Midwestern cities, we travel at a small additional cost to help cover the cost of gas and hotel-- trust us, it's worth it!

Check out this map to see all the cities we've been in for weddings and engagement sessions. We get around!

View Beyond The Well Photography in a larger map

I don't live anywhere near Bloomington, IL. How can I have a consultation?
We travel a lot for weddings, and many times are not able to physically meet with our brides and grooms before the wedding day. Consultations can be done over email, phone or Google hangout. This is also the reason we've included so much information and imagery on our website so you can feel confident hiring us to document your day.

What does it mean to be an "award-winning" wedding photographer?
Many photographers claim to be award-winning but fail to disclose the images that have won said awards. As members of the Wedding Photojournalist Association, we have the benefit of being able to enter quarterly image contests. Many of our images have placed in the contests over the years-- some as high as 2nd place. The Wedding Photojournalist Association is unlike other wedding photographer associations that require only paid dues for membership. The WPJA has stringent standards for inclusion and all photographers must pass a portfolio review to be accepted. It is said that less than 5% of all wedding photographers qualify for membership. The WPJA has members from all over the world, and to bring the contests into perspective-- they disclosed that the Q3 2010 contest had nearly 14,000 images entered. After two rounds of judging by renowned photojournalists, those 14,000 images were narrowed down to just 240 placing 1st through 20th in 12 categories. That's the top 2% of all images entered! You can see our award-winning images as well at the judges comments in the portfolio section of this site.

How do we book you for our date?
Once we have received a completed and signed agreement with 25% non-refundable retainer, your date is reserved with us. The address for mailing and additional instructions are on the agreement which can be emailed to you as a PDF if we're unable to meet in person before booking. Be sure to confirm with us that your date is still open before mailing us your retainer.

Will you require a meal at our reception?
Yes, we require a hot meal the same as your guests for all events 6 hours or longer that include a reception, and we do request to be seated in the same room as your guests as well so we don't miss anything (Karen is a vegetarian). Dinner is the only time during your event where we can take a short break and refuel. We don't take photos of people stuffing their faces (unless it happens to be particularly entertaining!), but our eyes and ears are always open even during dinner for toasts, kisses, etc. We will pop up from our seats to catch those moments and that's why we prefer to sit with your guests so we can see and hear what's going on. This requirement is also stated on our agreement. The Wedding Photojournalist Association has a fantastic and entertaining article about feeding your photographer called How to Starve Your Wedding Photographer: A Field Guide.

Do you accept credit card payments?
We can accept credit card payments for ordering prints through our online album service. We also accept credit card payments for our wedding and portrait services via Paypal or Google Checkout. A Paypal account is not required, and invoices are sent by email. Check and money orders are always welcome.

Can I view my photos online?
Yes! All of our packages include online ordering from a password-protected album until your one year anniversary. Albums can be found here.

Can we purchase our digital negatives?
The high-resolution JPEG files of all your wedding images are included in our wedding day package. They are presented to you on DVD. There is no additional charge for this, and you have permission to make whatever copies you like for personal use.

    all images and design © beyond the well, 2005-2014