Young photographers looking to break into the print industry today will have to face an uphill climb. Not only are there more photography enthusiasts encouraged by cheaper DSLR prices, there are also established professionals who have made a name for themselves photographing Hollywood royalty. Even those that have spent 20 or 30 years in the business don't seem to be retiring anytime soon. If there's one photographer that has been there and done that, it's Mario Testino.
Mario Testino was not popular in his childhood years in Peru. Tagging along with his father to New York on business trips, the young Testino developed a taste for fashion. However, he was ridiculed back home for his fashion sense, so he decided to move to the UK when he got older. It was only in London some 20 years later that he decided to pick up a camera and start photographing people.
Testino worked as a theater photographer's assistant, as well as a waiter. As his list of contacts grew, he began attracting the attention of amateur models by selling portrait portfolios, complete with hair and makeup sessions before the photo shoot. He began getting commissions from different magazines, but it would be a little while longer in the late 1990s that he would get his big break in the industry.
Testino's popularity took off in 1997 when he was chosen to take portraits of Diana, Princess of Wales for Vanity Fair. The photographer has stated on multiple occasions that Diana was his favorite model of all time. Unfortunately, the candid portraits of Princess Diana would be her last occasion for a formal sitting as she died 12 weeks later. Despite the tragedy, Testino's images of the late Princess proved to be a hit, and he has since been commissioned to portraits for other members of the British Royal Family. In 2010, Testino engagement photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton were the first official images of the couple together.
Testino is credited for having cultivated a whole new generation of supermodels, often times preferring lesser known models to those already established when the photographer came into the scene. The photographer was one of the first to encourage Kate Moss with whom he has collaborated on multiple occasions. Testino also fought for Gisele Bündchen when many publications passed her over. Today, the two are the world's top earning fashion models.
Almost 30 years after his first photographic portraits, Testino continues to travel and work for different magazines. His schedule is so hectic that Testino is never in the same country for more than a few weeks, which has earned him the title of being the busiest fashion photographer of modern times.
Still, being the busiest commercial photographer has its advantages, from photographing the cover of Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue to working with fashion giants such as Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry, to photographing the Royal Couple's engagement picture. And Testino doesn't seem to be showing any signs of stopping any time soon.
This is Mario Testino's website. For more inside views of Hollywood royalty, check out Mario Testino: Private View (Limited Edition), Diana: Princess of Wales and Kate Moss by Mario Testino.