Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Matinee: 'An Introduction To Mario Testino' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

12 September 2015

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 102nd in our series of Saturday matinees today: An Introduction To Mario Testino.

It's just four and a half minutes, but Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino talks rapidly, so you're getting more like a full half hour for your money. And what he talks about is particularly appropriate this week as we celebrate New York Fashion Week.

Testino's fashion photography has appeared in Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair and GQ as he built a reputation as one of the most important contemporary fashion and portrait photographers. His assignments have even included small jobs like the engagement photos for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It all started on the beaches of Lima, Peru where he developed an appreciation for life that served him well in London where, working as a waiter, he honed his skills as a photographer.

We catch up with him as he takes a photo of himself with a digicam and laughs. But, he says, "Joy is never a good thing in photography." Isn't tragedy prized over comedy? "But for me," he shakes his head, "I like having a good time."

He knows, he said, when he's got the shot. But, he admits it means nothing. Because you can still get something else.

That may be all the introduction you need. But you're just getting started.

He rapidly lists all the elements that go into a photograph (and, sorry, we would have been up all night replaying those few seconds to transcribe them) before suggesting a photographer is like a cowboy. Not just any cowboy, but a gunslinger.

He talks about the two kinds of photography he does. The first is capturing with a digicam what catches his eye as he wanders around. The second is building an image in the studio from nothing more than an idea. One feeds the other, he explains.

And we're just a minute and a half in.

The piece is spiced with his images, flashing by much too quickly to appreciate. His Web site has images you can linger over to appreciate just how he has realized his ideas.

The toughest job? Photographing celebrities. They have a persona they want to portray, he says. But his job is to break through the mask to the soul. Or the image dies.

When he photographed Princess Diana, he tells us, she told him to do what he thought best. He was the photographer, she said.

He knows, he said, when he's got the shot. But, he admits it means nothing. Because you can still get something else.

He had William and Kate's engagement shot, he knew. Nice pictures. Session over. They changed and came back out and chatted with him as he was packing up his gear. And all of a sudden "I took my camera -- and that's the photograph."

It's not about perfection, he explains. The lighting setup, the right gear, doing everything right is no guarantee. "Perfection is not that great at the end of the day," he says. "It's that moment that happens...."

That moment that happens, well, you can hear him recite all the things that can (and do) go wrong. The moment that happens despite all that. When you realize you are having a good time. Seeing straight into someone's soul.

BackBack to Photo Corners