By Dee Jason
AVP, Branch Manager, NMLS #662874
A sign hung in the office work area of Szoke Photography for many years that read: “If you treat your customers as you would like to be treated, they will never leave unhappy.”
Lou and Theresa Szoke have subscribed to that business model not only in regards to their customers, but also their employees, and they have built a business that continues to thrive more than 35 years later.
Szoke Photography first began in 1979 and grew so quickly that the Szokes turned full-time five years later in an 800-square foot building on South 5th St. in Springfield. More growth then transitioned the business to a larger, 1,700-square foot location on South 6th St. In 2003, they relocated to their current location in Riverton.
“Our business consisted of weddings, high school seniors, children, family portraits and video transfer,” Lou Szoke said. “Our specialty is what some call ‘Old Hollywood Style Portraits.’ It is a portrait in which many lights are used to create a painterly effect very often used in the 1930s and 1940s.”
Several years ago, Szoke was offered a publishing contract from Amherst Media to explain how to create the effects in his Hollywood Style Portraits. The book, a two-year project, is title “Hollywood Portraits” and is for sale throughout the United States and internationally.
A customer favorite of Szoke Photography is the transfer of home videos (typically VHS) to DVDs, Szoke said. And Illinois National Bank checking account customers can take the opportunity to preserve their old family moments and milestones and save money with an offer from BaZing. Simply download the BaZing app on your smartphone to get access to an offer of 40 percent off video transfer from VHS, slides and photos* when you patronize Szoke Photography.
Szoke says all work is done within the business and never hired out, so whether you need new family portraits or want to transfer your childhood home videos to DVDs, you get to work closely with a small business that treats you with respect and courtesy.
“Our goal has never been to be the biggest, just to offer the best,” Szoke said. “Our business foundation has always been to appreciate everyone who walks through our doors. One happy customer will spread the word much better than any marketing program ever could.”
*Merchant offers subject to change without notice.