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Save Hyper-linked Images to Salesforce with Apex?



So here's the scenario I'm dealing with...  I have a graphic design company who needs to keep track of and use (in merge programs) several terrebytes of JPEG images.  Most of the images are under a MB in size, but they just have WAY too many images to actually store them in their actual salesforce org.  So I've developed an easy way of tracking and searching their images in salesforce by importing links and descriptions to the files (that are stored on their servers) and I've used the "IMAGE" formula function to display a clickable preview of the files in the salesforce records (as well as the list views) to aid them when searching for specific themed images.


The problem I'm having now though is this... how can I use APEX to pull that image into a custom class, in order to use the image for a slew of automated actions?  Is there some kind of getImage() method or something that's capable of doing that?  Any ideas as to how I can accomplish this would be a huge help.