"VueScan helps keep alive the history of our country"

Scanning thousands of negatives and glass plates, David Phillips uses industry-leading product VueScan to ensure survival of photographic history.

David R. Phillips has been a photographer since the age of twelve. His first experience with photos was taking snaps of the school swimming team and selling them for 50c each. He was chief photographer for Monsanto Chemical company, and has been freelance since 1963. He has photographed all over the world for all of the top publications, including Life and Time.

Over a 40 year period he has assembled The David R. Phillips Collection which includes vintage prints and archival fiber silver prints made from original negatives of his own work, and also a wide range of images from some of the finest photographers depicting life in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The need for scanning

When looking at his own family history, David realised how there was a real possibility that history could disappear unless steps were taken to preserve images, and it spurred him on to start scanning his own negatives. To date, David has scanned over 100,000 glass plate negatives.

In addition to personal use, David specialises in scanning for work purposes.

He uses an Apple Mac G5 and 3 Apple iMac computers with the following scanners:

Work projects

David works on a wide variety of projects. Current work includes World War II b&w pictures from the 35mm originals, unseen photographs from Pearl Harbour and pictures taken from the late 1890’s in China and Japan. There are also 1600 negatives from the 1933 World Fair in Chicago, and hundreds of negatives from the Colombian Exposition in 1893. On a different note, David is working on stills taken from the film ‘From Here to Eternity’. There are hundreds of unseen shots, and David is scanning these overnight using the batch scanning facility.

David carries out this work for private commission or to sell to museums or private collections.

Challenges faced

When dealing with such old material, the quality can be very bad. Although the advanced features of VueScan help a lot, David has 6 film recorders and sometimes has to retouch the originals off the scanner and make new negatives or transparencies to scan.

How VueScan helps

The advanced features of VueScan makes David’s work a lot easier. The detailed choices in the Tools command gives him the power and flexibility that he needs when dealing with such a disparate subject.

David says “I think of VueScan as a working little soldier. Quite often I take scanners apart and put them back together again, and VueScan just resets itself. It is much better than NikonScan and is more than worth its price. I literally recommend it to all photographers I know. For me, the batch scanning and the high resolution are vital to the speed and quality of my work.”

To see David's work – visit: