What Makes Great?

Vol. 1: Professional Car Photographer: James Lipman

Josh Rose
6 min readSep 7, 2017

Photo by James Lipman.

Sometimes the world of photography can feel upside down. Good images, boastfully presented by amateurs with a big following seem to outsize great images, done quietly for clients by professionals. It begs the question: what makes great? Does the great image even matter anymore? And for the up-and-coming young photog looking to make a name in the world of photography, how to go about it? I asked some pros their opinions on this. Starting with incredible automotive photographer, James Lipman.

Hard to name an automotive venue that James hasn’t shot for — from Car and Driver to Porsche Panorama Magazine, his client mix is the stuff of sheet metal lovers’ dreams. Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Citroen, Fiat, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, Tesla… he’s shot them all. I recently ran into James as he was shooting the actual one millionth Porsche 911, an honor in countless ways. I posed these questions to him:

JR: How did you get into photography?

Photo by James Lipman.

JL: As a teenager the photographers I most admired worked for newspapers and press agencies. Once I was done with school, I was more interested in earning a living than going to a university, so I took a one year course in photojournalism and got a job working on the desk of a paper in London. I was also given the occasional shoot to do.

But I was a kid — handy with a camera, but desperately un-streetwise, and with no real worldview. These are things you absolutely need as a photojournalist. At this same time the news industry was still struggling to work out how to exist in the new digital landscape, and the future of papers looked miserable. So I reconsidered my options.

I loved photography, could shoot for publication and was good at it. I also loved cars. It took me two years of working at the newspaper to figure out where I should be going with that.

JR: Was there a precise moment when you realized photography was going to happen for you?

Josh Rose

Filmmaker, photographer, artist and writer. Writing about creator life and observations on culture. Tips very very much appreciated: https://ko-fi.com/joshsrose