Addison Scurlock was an iconic Black photographer of the 20th century.
He is the man behind the lens of some of the most influential moments of the 1900s.
From capturing the Civil Rights movement to some of the most influential people alive in his life, like W.E.B. DuBois and President Calvin Coolidge, Scurlock was notable for his prowess behind the lens.
And given the extreme prejudice and systemic racism leading to a constant disadvantage for Black Americans, Scurlock’s rise in the 20th century as an iconic Black photographer can inspire us all.
The “Scurlock Look”
Addison Scurlock became one of the most iconic Black photographers for, of course, his skills with the lens. But also because of his special style of shooting, called the “Scurlock Look”
In this influential style, clients are positioned with an odd positioning of the camera, which still ironically works very well.
One of the most important parts of Scurlock’s legend was his focus on capturing African American culture.
A diligent desire to capture Black culture
Addison Scurlock and his family spent most of their time documenting major African American cultural moments. But they also explored the simple life of African Americans.
As previously mentioned, he photographed throughout the monumental Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
But he and his family captured moments in Black-owned small businesses and simple everyday occurrences throughout the south. These included weddings, graduations, baptisms, etc.
As we all know, African American culture was consistently ostracized and simply ignored.
But Scurlock definitely did not ignore the culture that was all around him. He made sure to capture the world that he and many others were living in.
The Scurlock Studio
Scurlock’s inspiration to those around him was a huge part of the legend of Addison Scurlock.
Scurlock taught his sons George and Robert his tricks to photography, but a huge part of his inspiration came from his studio, The Scurlock Studio, located at 900 U Street, N.W.
How can a studio be inspiring? Well, during those times, just as today, photos inspired people, and those that walked past studios saw tremendous photos and were enthralled by the emotion and beauty of the portraits.
However, what was monumental about Scurlock’s studio was the fact that it was one of the few that highlighted African American culture, a unique, but obviously inspiring niche for the time and forever.
The value of iconic Black photographers
Photography, especially at the time of Addison Scurlock, was used to capture a moment.
And if it wasn’t for influential photographers like Scurlock, a huge part of United States society would have been ignored for ages.
All these moments could have vanished forever, but luckily for everyone, Scurlock made sure to capture these special moments.