The demise of the "official photographer" at Mount Vernon occurred for several reasons.
First, photography was becoming increasingly popular. When Alexander Gardner began taking pictures at Mount Vernon, few people could afford the necessary equipment. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, photography had become accessible to the amateur. In 1895, the first year that amateur photography was not restricted, Mount Vernon Superintendent Harrison Dodge noted that "the privileges thus granted were apparently very much enjoyed and never abused."
Secondly, the MVLA's inability to recover the negatives of Alex Gardner and N.G. Johnson plagued the Association for thirty years. Mount Vernon could not prohibit the sale of views in Washington by companies that acquired the negatives. In the case of Johnson, a primitive black market allowed the MVLA to be exploited. The increased supply of views meant that Mount Vernon no longer had a monopoly on its own photographs.
Finally, the MVLA had a history of being duped by profit-minded photographers. For three decades, a portion of the MVLA's revenue was lost to its photographers as a result of loose contract agreements and soft management. Not until the era of the exclusive contract had ended did the MVLA show significant profits from selling photographs of George Washington's home. In this respect, the MVLA was also troubled in its contract dealings with boat companies that brought visitors to Mount Vernon before the construction of a railroad.
Despite these incidents, some of the work of these three photographers has survived to form an excellent study collection at Mount Vernon. Currently, there are over 4,500 photographs showing all aspects of Mount Vernon that document the estate's late nineteenth-century history. Photographs showing George Washington's home that are discovered in attics or old trunks are frequently presented to Mount Vernon by their owner, and thus become a part of the permanent record of this historic home.