James's Pics and Clips

Our Image Retouch and Scanning Specialist James selects his personal favourites from the archive, from Chinese Empresses to 1960s London.

1. What is your role at Bridgeman?

My role as Retouch and Scanning Specialist is to digitise the archive of transparencies, negatives, prints, and glass plates. Each image that I come across I work to bring out the best in terms of colour and texture whilst ensuring that it remains true to life. I frequently fulfil special requests from our clients by using high-quality drum scanners. These requests range from producing large reproductions for set designs, to hand colouring black and white images.

2. What do you love most about the job?

I love the diversity of content that I work on every day. My favourite part of my job is always having new challenges and tailoring my retouching to the needs of each image. It is incredibly satisfying to see the outcome of one's work when it is underpinned by the desire to achieve the very best results.

3. What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive?

I feel that is it easy to underestimate just how much variety there is in the content of the archive. At Bridgeman, we have such a vast range of images from different nations and different time periods, not to mention a wealth of footage as well! 

James's favourite images and clips in the archive are...







Blazing Trees, 1996 (mixed media), Peter Davidson (Contemporary Artist) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images




Blazing Trees, 1996

It was a pleasure to work on this image. I love the variety of textures and the overall vibrancy of this piece. I find that the contrast of intense fiery reds and bold yellows against the deep blue and purple sky makes for impactful viewing.



Another wonderful painting packed to the brim with vivid colours. I particularly enjoy the use of subtly subdued tones in what would be negative space between the fruit and vegetables. This, combined with the rich blues of the shadows and the punchy and exuberant hues of the food, creates an invigorating piece.




Food (acrylic on card), Sara Hayward / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images



The Starry Night, June 1889 (oil on canvas), Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) / museo / Bridgeman Images
Looking at this painting requires little of one's own imagination to be transported to Saint Rémy in the south of France. The rolling hills and the tops of houses faintly illuminated under a blanket of stars bring a feeling of peace and tranquility. Fascination with the night sky comes naturally to many and I feel that this piece captures that beauty magnificently.




Having watched The Story of Yanxi Palace with much enjoyment, I am drawn to this depiction of Empress Dowager Chongqing (Empress Xiao Sheng Xian). The surrogate mother of the Qianlong Emperor, Hongli, Empress Dowager was portrayed as a wise figure whose actions were frequently influenced by auspicious signs throughout life. Looking at this representation brings my mind to what life may have been like inside of the palace walls during this period in history.




China: Empress Xiao Sheng Xian (1692-1777), 2nd consort of Emperor Yongzheng (1678 - 1735). / Pictures from History / Bridgeman Images


London, Piccadilly night-time, c.1960s / DESIGN PICS (FOOTAGE COLLECTION) / Bridgeman Images


London, Piccadilly night-time, c.1960s

Piccadilly is an iconic part of London and a hotspot for tourism, entertainment, and business. This clip is a window into the not too distant past of an area that I frequently enjoy. Witnessing the dense glow of neon signs in place of today's mammoth advertising billboards outlines the advancement in technology. The continuous stream of traffic and pedestrians is a sure sign that Piccadilly was enjoyed then as it is now.
This animation of a cat nimbly breaking into a gallop interests me not only for the content, but for the method by which it was captured. As an early example of motion picture, I find this piece of work is both simple and intriguing.


Animation of Eadweard Muybridge's 'cat walking', 1885 / Bridgeman Images



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