In the same catalog, Robert Scurlock wrote an appreciation of his father's achievements:

"The casual viewer of this retrospective exhibition will be impressed with the beauty and grace of the photographs. My father consistently portrayed his subjects with great dignity and character. The more sophisticated photographic eye will look at the whole and then examine the details, ultimately considering the basic elements of content, subject direction, composition, lighting and print quality. All of these facets can be covered by one word, technique.18

     By 1977, when the U Street studio was razed, George had left the business, leaving brother Robert and a dwindling crew of lab technicians and printers to carry on the Scurlock studio tradition. In the early 1980's, having twice re-located on Connecticut Avenue, a decision was made to close the studio portion of the operation and consolidate the commercial processing and printing and the freelance photography under one roof at the 1813 18th Street location. They moved what they could to 18th Street and put the rest in storage.19

     Robert Scurlock tried to avoid re-opening the portrait end of the business, but the demand for portrait work from his old-time customers eventually proved too great to refuse, and he relented. He did resume a limited amount of portraiture, and, in his father's tradition, continued to shoot 4 x 5 and 5 x 7 sheet film with view cameras outfitted with portrait lenses, as they always had.20 He shot large negatives because he still believed in the art of retouching:

"My father knew how to place the light so it was just right. And once he got it right, there would be no excessive shadows. But then he would see the negative, and see that it could be helped by straightening a nose a little here, straightening a lip a little bit. He wanted it to look like the person in their Sunday best, their best face forward. Often, the retouching to remove blemishes would be done before the client even saw the portrait."21


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November 2000