Episode #6 - Justin Leighton - BBC Top Gear Photographer

I recorded this podcast over a year ago and wanted to get the series up an running before posting because Justin has so many great pieces of advice and insights.[powerpress]

Justin like me started life in News while I was shooting TV news Justin was a 'Snapper'

In recent years Justin has been specialising in Car photography and has been shooting BBC Top Gear magazine for a number of years.

In this interview he shares how he goes about his work and offers some great insights into how to engage and retain great clients...

We also discuss the making of this exceptionally funny piece of Top Gear TV. If you have never seen this then you are in for a treat.

This podcast goes for longer than usual at 49'53 but you can download and listen on your devices or in the car

Podcast Highlights:


  • 2:15 Justin’s intro and the work he specializes in.
  • 4:00 Justin’s experience of working in News
  • 4:40 Justin’s thoughts on repetition of working in News and how quickly it can change day to day
  • 7:35 Planning and organization
  • 13:00 The importance of putting in hard work whatever the budget
  • 17:00 Was it a conscious decision to shoot cars and reinvent your career?
  • 18:40 Unique challenges and opportunities working for Top Gear.
  • 21:00 The situation of being a single stills photographer on up to a six camera shoot.
  • 22:00 Working on the Reliant Robin episode
  • 24:25 What happens to the photographs you take for Top Gear?
  • 25:00 Talking through the Mercedes shoot where stills were used to make the film.
  • 30:00 Talking about failing, but learning fast.
  • 32:00 Importance of testing to improve your craft.
  • 34:00 Working to a tight set of parameters and being imaginative.
  • 36:35 Justin’s thoughts on the move to DSLR video.
  • 40:30 Advice for aspiring photographers, cinematographers and the move to going pro.
  • 47:00 What’s next for Justin?

For further information check out Justin's website and blog

Justin Leighton Headshot

About Justin Leighton (From an article in What Digital Camera)

A regular freelance photographer for Top Gear magazine, Justin Leighton is based in Oxfordshire. Working in the industry for 25 years, Justin has travelled all over the world documenting history. After setting up a magazine with a few friends at the age of 18, Justin developed a passion for photography. The magazine didn't last, but Justin's eye for editorial images did. He went on to establish a career in photojournalism, documenting such historical events as the Balkan conflict, The Good Friday Agreement, the fall of Communism in eastern Europe and three general elections.

Justin was also part of the British-based collective, Network Photographers, a group of 25 of the most reputable reportage photographers. His work has been published across hundreds of national newspapers and magazines. In 2006, Justin decided to put his news photography on hold and pursued the opportunity of documenting a long-held personal interest: automobiles. As well as undertaking a range of commercial work, Justin now works on a freelance basis for BBC's Top Gear, shooting both stills and most recently video for the TV show, magazine and website.

[3 Reports Red]