Childhood & Early Life
Mario was born on 30th October, 1954 in a Spanish-Irish-Italian family at Lima, Peru. His father was a businessman, and Mario was the eldest son among six children.
He pursued his primary education from ‘Santa Maria Marianistas’, a Catholic institution, and later joined the ‘University of the Pacific’.
During the first year at the ‘University of the Pacific’, he studied economics. Later, he joined the ‘Catholic University of Lima’, where he studied law.
In order to study ‘international relations’, he moved to California and joined the ‘University of San Diego’.
Testino had been a creative person since childhood, and wanted to see himself in a career which helps him utilize his talent. Thus, he travelled to London, in 1976, to pursue a course in photography.
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Testino’s initial days in London were filled with struggle. He took job as a waiter to earn his livelihood and also to continue his photographic pursuit. He also sold portfolios to aspiring models.
For a few days he lived with a friend, at the latter’s apartment, but soon shifted to a deserted part of a hospital, and resided there for around seven years.
While he worked at the restaurant, he encountered some individuals who worked with the ‘Vogue’ magazine, and they expressed a desire to view his photographed snaps.
In 1983, Testino’s snaps were published in the ‘Vogue’ magazine, and thus, his photographic career started as a freelancer.
Initially, he worked for the British edition of the fashion magazine ‘Vogue’ and later worked for different editions of the same magazine, which were published all around Europe.
In 1986, he travelled to New York, where he started working for the renowned magazine ‘Vanity Fair’, and also the American edition of ‘Vogue’.
In 1995, Mario was appointed as the photographer of the ‘Gucci’ campaigns’ where his creativity was much acclaimed and thus, earned him campaigns of brands such as ‘Donna Karan’ and ‘Versace’. For ‘Versace’ he shot photos of the famous singer Madonna.
Testino got the opportunity to shot with Madonna a second time in 1996, when she was to be featured on the cover of the magazine ‘Vanity Fair’.
In 1997, his photographic career scaled great heights, when he was appointed by Princess Diana to shoot her photos for the cover of the fashion magazine ‘Vanity Fair’. The assignment concluded a few months before the Princess met with a tragic death. This was probably her last photo-shoot.
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After the photos of Princess Diana were published, Mario had become a desired photographer among the British Royal family, and he still is. He is frequently appointed by the family to capture their special moments.
In 1998, this famous photographer published his first book ‘Any Objections?’, and the following year his second book ‘Front Row/Back Row’ was released.
Testino’s third book ‘Alive’ was published in 2001, which was followed by the publication of his ‘Portraits’ the next year.
The same year, at the ‘National Portrait Gallery’, London, an exhibition of Testino’s photographs was organized. This exhibition turned out to be a huge success and the same photos were even exhibited in cities such as Tokyo, Edinburgh, Mexico City, Milan and Amsterdam for the following four years.
In 2003, another book by this famous photographer titled ‘Kids’, containing pictures which glorify moments of childhood, was published.
He was honoured with a bronze plaque at the ‘Rodeo Drive Walk of Style’ in the year 2005, which was inscribed with his quoted line, “Chic is nothing but the right thing.” The same year, his exhibition of Princess Diana’s photographs, named ‘Diana: Princess of Wales’, was held at Kensington Palace.
In 2007, his book ‘Let Me In’ was published, and two years later, his next book ‘Mario De Janeiro’ was printed, which was Testino’s tribute to Brazil, and had photographs of Gisele Bundchen, a Brazilian model.
This photographer published his next book ‘Kate Moss’, named after the renowned supermodel in 2010. He even shot photos of her for the ‘Vogue’ magazine.
Personal Life & Legacy
Other than his creative side, this photographer has a philanthropic side too. He has been associated with many charitable works and has helped people in the best possible way.
In 2007, he initiated ‘Save the Children’ campaign to raise funds for the earthquake victims of Peru. He is also associated with organizations such as ‘Life Ball’, ‘Aid for AIDS’ and ‘Naked Heart Foundation’.
In 2012, Mario initiated a non-profit organization named ‘MATE’ which is associated with Peruvian artists.
Testino also published many books which contain creative photographs of his career. In his book ‘Lima Peru’, one can finds pictures of his hometown, which have captured different aspects of daily life in Lima, such as sports, religion, culture and people.