John Beardsworth

Photographer, Author, Consultant

About me


Taking war photography back to the 1640s?

Back in the 1980s what made me want a camera was seeing the work of Don McCullin, Brian Harris in the early Independent, Chris Killip or Sebastaio Salgado, and you might see this in my pursuit of long term documentary projects like Speakers Corner. But it’s never so simple, is it? Indeed, my big documentary interest, historical re-enactment, was more the result of my having read history at Cambridge, and while I was also a big fan of Robert Mapplethorpe, studio photography has always left me cold.

My other photographic love has always been landscape. I don’t believe in too much rationalisation, but 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. I also draw 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 for someone a historian by inclination your influences can cover many centuries.

But should one ever explain one’s photography?


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 that subject.

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

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.


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.