John Beardsworth

Photographer, Author, Consultant

About me


Taking war photography back to the 1640s?

I really don’t believe one should explain one’s photography – I’m of the “look at the pictures, make up your own mind” school. But back in the 1980s what really made me want a camera was the work of photojournalists like Don McCullin and Brian Harris, whose pictures led the early Independent newspaper, or seeing exhibitions by Chris Killip or Sebastaio Salgado. My long term documentary projects like Speakers Corner might spring from these influences, but it’s never so simple, is it? After all, I was a fan of Robert Mapplethorpe’s prints yet never went towards studio photography, while my big project on historical re-enactment owes as much to having studied history at Cambridge.

Landscape has always been my other photographic love. I distinctly remember McCullin’s wonderful book of harsh black and white Somerset landscape, other favourites would be Fay Godwin and William Neill, while more recently some of David Ward‘s ideas have been thought-provoking. Maybe they and others are influences, but again just as much inspiration comes from my interest in art history.


I’ve written about 10 books on digital photography, the latest two published in 2014, but I didn’t begin as a photographer or even as a graphic artist. I had been a “spreadsheet warrior” and photography was just a hobby, but working for Heidelberg in the graphics industry I been familiar with Photoshop from about 1990. So while I loved darkroom printing, I also built up my digital skills with scanned negatives and slides, a “wet and dry” route. Then in 2003 I mentioned on my blog that I had just bought a Nikon D100, and this led to the opportunity to write the first of three books on digital B&W.

Advanced Digital Black and White Photography is probably my favourite. Partly that’s because I know it contained a few big firsts for books on the subject – Lightroom, Photoshop’s B&W panel, using SilverEfex, and smart object workflows. It’s still bang up to date.


At the risk of destroying any artistic credibility I may possess, I have a murky past – as a spreadsheet warrior. After qualifying as a chartered accountant I spent two decades in a suit until learning to program Excel gradually allowed me to loosen the tie and start digging my way out of that career. Eventually I found myself in financial IT consulting and implementing big accounting systems, OLAP cubes and “business intelligence”, migrating databases. The skills and aptitude to manage lots of data can be applied just as readily to managing photos and the field of “digital asset management”, then into improving clients’ Lightroom productivity, and designing web sites (my site is 20 years old in 1997). But after using it for 27 years, I do know Photoshop pretty well too.

I have moved all my newer Lightroom content over to my other web site, Lightroom Solutions.


You can contact me by email. Please make your subject line obviously human or leave it as set by the link.

I generally encourage people to ask for technical help in public forums such as Lightroom Forums. You’ll get useful views and opinions there, and more people may benefit from the discussion.

My Italian is good, and I am OK in French and German. Please don’t blame me for Brexit – it’s not my fault.

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