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Magnum Photos

Hasselblad Scanners Revolutionize Magnum Photos’ Workflow
Flextight Scanners Digitize Photographers’ Work for Worldwide Distribution

“With Hasselblad’s Flextight scanners, we can put total faith in the integrity of our digital files, from start to finish.”
- Jonathan Roquemore, Magnum Photos

Eliott Erwitt, Paris, France, 1989. © Eliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos.

Thomas Hoepker, Chicago, Ilinois. Muhammad Ali, boxing world heavyweight champion, showing off his right fist, 1966. © Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos.

Trent Parke, Sydney, Australia, Summer Rain. A man stands huddled under awnings on the corner of George & Market streets, his tie thrown over his shoulder after running through a Sydney thunderstorm, 1998. From Dream/Life series. © Trent Parke/Magnum Photos.

Magnum Photos was founded after World War II by photographers Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David "Chim" Seymour, who were motivated by a sense of relief that the world had survived and by the curiosity to see what remained. Today, more than 60 years later, Magnum has become one of the most prestigious photo agencies in the world - with offices in New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo and agents worldwide—providing images to major magazines, newspapers, publishers, filmmakers, and museums. The international photographic cooperative’s greatest asset remains its physical and digital archives, notable for their breadth of subject matter and depth of humanitarian content. Jonathan Roquemore, brand relations at Magnum Photos, explains why the photo agency relies on Flextight scanners, even in this age of widespread digital capture.

Our digital archive of 550,000 images documents watershed moments in world conflict, civil rights, and popular culture over the course of the second half of the 20th century. It bridges the divide between traditional photojournalism and photographers’ personal, poetic vision.

When we first began digitizing photographs in the 1990s, we used a flatbed scanner. The process was labor-intensive and time-consuming. Even with the advent of digital photography, most of our photographers continued to work with film for many of their assignments. To this day, our workflow is dominated by scanning transparencies and negatives.

Six years ago, after thorough evaluation of various scanning solutions on the market, we switched to the Flextight platform, with a Flextight 848. This machine single-handedly revolutionized our workflow, allowing us to scan faster and at a much higher quality than ever before. We bought additional Flextight scanners right away, so we could contend with the high volume of material coming in from our photographers on assignment. We processed over 15,000 images in the New York office last year alone. Thanks to the unique compatibility between Hasselblad’s technology and Magnum’s technical services model, we were able to scan the wealth of transparencies and negatives with efficiency and stability.

Since 2008, our digital production teams and photographers around the world have been equipped with Flextight X5 scanners, to process image files when they bring them in from the field. The scanned files are then uploaded, captioned, and key-worded by the Magnum team before being transferred online for distribution to clients and Magnum’s agent network.

Our service model demands superior quality and maximum efficiency, including our scanning equipment. Hasselblad has proven so reliable over the years that many of our photographers have invested in their own Flextight scanners, bringing the X5’s superior quality directly into their studios and making Hasselblad a household name in the Magnum family. We now have more than 25 X5s globally and just ordered three more.

Every year, thousands of our photographers’ images appear in scholarly and critical texts, catalogs, books, high-profile editorials, and advertising campaigns, while scores of others are syndicated for film or television. And we draw on the image files in our archives to produce thousands of large-format prints for cultural exhibitions in museums, galleries, and educational institutions worldwide. Flextight X5 scanners let us generate large-format files with superior results.

Among the iconic images in the Magnum Photos archives:

  • Elliott Erwitt’s humorous portrait of a trench-coated character with a leaping dog (above), captured in Paris, France, in 1989. Erwitt is best known for his black-and-white candids of ironic or absurd situations in everyday life
  • Thomas Hoepker’s portrait of “Muhammad Ali” (left), world heavyweight boxing champion, showing off his right fist. Hoepker captured this photo of the three-time world heavyweight champ in Chicago, Illinois, in 1966.
  • Trent Parke’s “Summer Rain” (bottom left), captured in Sydney, Australia, in 1998, shows a man huddled under awnings on the corner of George & Market streets, his tie thrown over his shoulder after running through a Sydney thunderstorm. The image is from Parke’s Dream/Life series.

  • With Hasselblad, we can put total faith in the integrity of our digital files, from start to finish.

    For more about Magnum Photos, visit www.magnumphotos.com.