13 Years at Ridgeway Portrait Design
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April 14, 2014
By Cheryl Ridgeway
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I can't believe it! We have been in our current studio, at 6725 State Route 162, Maryville IL, for thirteen (13) years. Yesterday, April 13, 2001 is when we officially moved in. Sometimes it feels like we have only been in this one location for the last 25 years and some days we just can't believe it's been 13 years already.

For those of you that don't know the Ridgeway story, let me go back a few years. We leased a space in downtown Collinsville IL, for 10 years prior to our building the current studio. The studio was just a long room when we started and had to customize it to fit our needs. We had to build the front entry, the camera room, the photo presentation room, production area and we shared a bathroom with the Floyd's Flowers in the very back of the building. If you got the urge to go, you needed to leave and head back there because it was a long way away from the front of the building. LOL! It was not ideal for the weak of bladder.

There wasn't a pretty, grassy area that John could photograph people at without driving to a separate location. So, being resourceful (as we are) John started taking people around downtown Collinsville, in the alleys, behind buildings, in front of buildings, wherever he thought was an intersting setting for his subject. It worked well, but we still would have liked to have a nice outdoor area.

Something we absolutely, hated about that studio, besides us not owning it, was every time it rained the roof leaked. There were drop ceilings and the panels would just get soaked and crash into a nasty mess on our floor. It happened in two different sections of the studio and it was just a mess to clean up. We made sure we always had a supply of ceiling panels so that we could replace the water-logged ones. It took a few years for John and I to not get that sick feeling in our stomachs when it rained.  

The time came that John wanted to get out of that location and design and build his dream studio. Starting in April of 2000 we started the search for the ideal location, but just couldn't find it. John decided that he wanted to be on State Route 162 and for months we would just drive it, hoping something would miraculously appear. I swear he willed our location to become available. We were out looking at land with a realtor and were looking at the land across the street from our studio when she said something about the house across the street being for sale, but privately. At the time all of the land behind our studio was being bought up to develop into what is now Autumn Oaks subdivision, except the land that was owned by an older gentleman and his wife. He had built that house 40 years before himself. He told us he refused to sell it to the developers. The good Lord was looking down on us that day because we decided to look at the property, all the time thinking it was too small for what we were wanting to do. That land was just under an acre and were happily surprised.

Well, you know how the story ends; we got the land, knocked down the house that was there and upset the previous landowner so much that he refused to even drive by it. We felt bad, but he helped get us our dream studio. For that, we thank him. 

John actually, designed the studio and pictured above is the original floor plan. We started in November of 2000, building our studio. There are some stories to tell there, but maybe another time. Moving into the studio is a story in itself. We decided to move 10 years of props and previous studio stuff by ourselves. Never again!!!!! We will always hire movers from now on. Shari and Troy Eckmann's anniversary is on April 13th and Shari was there to help us move. She is something special and is still with us for over 14 years. She has been a big part of our success in the later half of our business years. (BTW, Happy Anniversary, Shari & Troy).

It has been a journey of ups and downs, but it's our journey and one that has allowed us to be in business and to be a part of our client's lives as we photograph their families as they begin, grow, become high school seniors and through marriage. Now we are getting see the cycle start again. Even though it makes us realize our age, we couldn't have asked for a better calling.

We thank those of you who have made the journey with us and look forward to meeting those who are just reading this and getting to know us.

I would love to hear from you that we have know for any part of our 25 years of business. Just leave us a comment; it would mean so much. Have a wonderful day!!

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