John Beardsworth

Photographer, Author, Consultant

About me

Photography

Taking war photography back to the 1640s?

Back in the 1980s seeing the work of Don McCullin, Brian Harris in the early Independent, Chris Killip or Sebastaio Salgado was what made me want a camera. You might see this reflected in my pursuit of long term documentary projects like Speakers Corner, but it’s never so simple, is it? After all, I was also a fan of Robert Mapplethorpe and yet I never enjoyed studio photography, while my big documentary interest, historical re-enactment, had its roots in studying history at Cambridge and a lifelong passion for the subject.

My other photographic love has always been landscape. I distinctly remember noticing McCullin’s wonderful book of black and white Somerset landscape for their expressionist mood. Other favourites would be Fay Godwin and William Neill, while some of David Ward‘s ideas have been thought-provoking. Maybe these, and others, are influences, but just as much comes from my interest in art history, and I really don’t believe in explaining or rationalising too much. It’s not a good idea.

Author

I’ve written about 10 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 got into this in 2003 after I had bought my first digital camera, a Nikon D100, and mentioned it on my blog. It was a time when DSLRs were coming of age, so this led to the opportunity to write my first book on digital black and white, and I’ve written 3 other books on B&W.

Before then I had been a “suit” and photography had been just a hobby. I loved darkroom work, but I could see the direction things were going and my career had taken me to the printing press manufacturers Heidelberg where I had begun getting familiar with Photoshop about 1990. So my digital skills built up gradually using a “wet and dry” practice of scanning negatives and slides, but processing them on computer.

Advanced Digital Black and White Photography is probably my favourite. Partly that’s because I know it had a few big firsts –  the first book to show Lightroom for black and white, the first to show Photoshop’s black and white panel, and the first to show SilverEfex and smart object workflows. It’s still bang up to date.

Consultant

To destroy any artistic credibility I may possess, my murky past contains many years as a spreadsheet warrior, a chartered accountant in fact. Eventually, creating complex spreadsheets 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. Surprisingly, at least 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.

My Lightroom scribblings are now at my other web site, Lightroom Solutions.

Contact

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 I generally 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 more people may benefit from the discussion.

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

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