he is one of the world’s most in-demand photographers, the first choice for the beautiful and the famous. No doubt he will be due in Britain for a royal-baby portrait soon, having cemented a relationship that began with his groundbreaking images of Diana, Princess of Wales (after she died, he wouldn’t allow them to be
“I wanted to give back to my COUNTRY and I figure the best way that I can do this is through CULTURE”
bought, respecting the fact they were photos of the bereaved princes’ mother, first and foremost). This extended to photographing The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their 2010 engagement.
Much of Testino's appeal is down to his personal brand of alchemy. “I know I need to turn
people on to get a good image," he explains. Whether it is his unforgettable Diana portraits in Vanity Fair, 1997 ("I only opened up who she was"), the innumerable defining images of Kate Moss, or the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow reveals that, "he took my father’s all-time favorite picture of me", Testino’s skill is drawing out an unseen side to his subjects.
While Testino talks with typical modesty, his subjects are more effusive in their praise. “Mario was the first photographer to see me as a sexy model and shoot me that way,” says Moss. “It changed the way people looked at me; others followed his lead.” So often have the two collaborated that they have become something of a double act – and, as Testino puts it: “I’m more obsessed by her as a person than as a model because, whereas a lot of people want to turn her into, say, Marilyn Monroe, I always want her to be her.”
Testino shifts gear easily to explain the journey that has led
Daria Werbowy in
Cusco, 2007, British Vogue © Mario Testinocredits
Photograph: Mario Testino