John Beardsworth

Photographer, Author, Consultant



Taking war photography back to the 1640s?

I don’t think one should explain too much about one’s photography, and in my own mind I don’t see myself as a landscape photographer or documentary or even historical.

If you are interested in my influences, one thing that made me want a camera was seeing the work of Don McCullin, Brian Harris in the early Independent, Chris Killip or Sebastaio Salgado. You might see this in my pursuit of long term documentary projects like Speakers Corner, but it’s never so simple, is it? I was a big fan of Robert Mapplethorpe and yet studio photography has always left me cold. Indeed, my big documentary interest, historical re-enactment, was as much a result of my having read history at Cambridge.

My other photographic love is landscape, and I feel it draws more from my knowledge of art history. Turner is an obvious love and in London it’s easy to see his less-known earlier work, but if you’re a historian your influences come from hundreds of years. In terms of photographers, again I’d point to McCullin whose wonderful book of Somerset landscapes seemed to express an inner mood. Fay Godwin is an old favourite too.

But does one really need to explain?


I’ve since written 10 or so books on digital photography, the latest two being published in 2014, but unlike most authors of books on the topic I didn’t start my writing career as a photographer or even as a graphic artist.

In fact, I had been a “suit” and photography had been a hobby. But my career had taken me to the printing press manufacturers Heidelberg where I was familiar with Photoshop from about 1990, so I built my digital skills gradually using a “wet and dry” practice of scanning negatives and slides. But I knew the direction things were going – this web site began in 1997 – and in 2003 I had bought my first digital camera, a Nikon D100, which I mentioned on my blog. This led to the opportunity to write my first book on digital B&W.


To destroy any artistic credibility I may possess, my murky past does contain many years as a spreadsheet warrior, a chartered accountant in fact. Eventually working spreadsheets actually allowed me to start digging my way out of that career. Learning how to program and automate Excel eventually led me to financial IT consulting and implementing big accounting systems, OLAP cubes and “business intelligence”, migrating databases. Surprising enough, to some people, these skills and aptitudes lend themselves to managing lots of photos and the field of  “digital asset management”, improving clients’ Lightroom productivity, and designing web sites. But after 25 years, I do know Photoshop pretty well too.

Most of my Lightroom material is now over at


You can contact me by emailing me.

Please make your email’s subject line obviously human or leave it as set by the link.

I don’t mind technical questions but in general I encourage people to ask for help in public forums such as the LightroomForums. You’ll get other useful opinions (even if they may not be as right as mine!) and other people may benefit from the discussion.

My Italian is good, and I am OK in French and German. Don’t blame me for Brexit.

If you see me, do say hello. I am told I nowhere near as frightening as you may – quite rightly – imagine.