Herbert Quick: Photographer
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Quick's career in photography now spans sixty-five years, and, at age 71, he seems fit enough to continue for a good many more. He is widely regarded as one the medium's most able and knowledgeable practitioners. Few can match his technical skill or his mastery of the underlying science of photography. And in sustained productivity he has only small competition. He makes no claims for his work other than to call it "documentary" in nature, the bulk of it produced using an 8 x 10 view camera, including a finely crafted camera made by Quick himself. In 1985, Collin Gardner of the Los Angeles Times described Quick's documentation of the changing California landscape as an effort undertaken "with as much attraction as regret," but that even in the most alienating environment he is able to infuse the images with mystery. And this seems a fair enough characterization. Quick's sharp, richly rendered photographs transform even the most unassuming subjects into monuments to moments of "things as they are."

Most impressive, however, has been the sustained integrity of Quick's effort from start to finish; he has successfully avoided the temptations of fads and fashions, often at a cost to his professional standing, and he has insisted without thought of compromise on the very aesthetic he so carefully denies. In fact, there is only a precious handful of photographers working today who have produced so much good work with as much honest conviction over so many years. [It should be noted here that Quick takes pride in the fact that he never once was tempted to apply for a grant to do his work; he regards grants as "welfare for artists."] And this fact alone makes Quick not only important as a photographer, but critically important as a teacher by example to the young who would be photographers. Quick has been a teacher, of course, one of the best -- the sort who is demanding beyond measure, impatient with laziness, but tireless and generous to those who respond with hard work, interest, and who show a bit of talent in the use of the medium.

Finally, whether we approach Quick's work as art or as documentation, it needs no amplification from me to make it accessible. As art it is unencumbered by theory or posture. As documentation it is authoritative, clean, and always to the point. It is my hope that the presentation on these pages is equally clean and straightforward. The viewer need only accept that the choice of photographs and their arrangement was mine alone to make, and that I alone am responsible for the words you are reading.

E.R. Beardsley
December 1996

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