Previously of fashion's most sought-after photographers, Mario Testino was born in 1954 in Lima, Peru. He arrived in London in 1976, taking a flat in an abandoned hospital near Trafalgar Square. He began his career selling portfolios for £25 including hair and make-up, to aspiring models. In 2017 Testino’s day rate was believed to exceed $250,000.
In January 2018 Testino, along with photographer Bruce Weber , was accused of sexual exploitation in an investigation by The New York Times. Thirteen male assistants and models accused the photographer of a pattern of coercive sexual behaviour. Representatives of the photographer objected to the allegations. The law firm that represents Testino “challenged the characters and credibility” of the people who made complaints and said former employees were shocked.
Along with his editorial work, which was regularly featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair, the photographer was often called upon to shoot advertising campaigns for many of fashion’s most important brands including Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace.
In 2002, The National Portrait Gallery in London held a hugely popular exhibition of Testino's work, entitled ‘Portraits by Mario Testino’ and displaying portraits by the prolific photographer of famous subjects ranging from Kate Moss to Mick Jagger. The exhibition travelled to Milan, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Mexico City and Lima.
In 2010, Testino was invited by the renowned Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid to exhibit his work, one of the few living artists to have done so. In 2012 he was invited by the prestigious Museum of Fine Art in Boston, USA, to exhibit in a new show which opened in October 2012; his first museum show in the United States of America.
As a portrait photographer he has captured some of the world’s most captivating individuals, often at intimate stages of their lives. For example, it was Testino who shot Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement photo. The photographer has also shot Diana, Princess of Wales, and was asked by Kate Moss to photograph her wedding.
Testino has published 12 books of his photography, including "MaRio de Janeiro Testino," a tribute to the city and its people that have inspired him so much. His most recent books are "Private View" and "In Your Face," to accompany the exhibitions of the same name.
2012 saw the opening of MATE, Asociación Mario Testino, a cultural institution in his home of Lima, Peru, which carries his name with a mission to promote culture to both local and international audiences through artistic programmes. He has recently established a creative agency both in London and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in order to channel his 30 years of success and experience in the business of building and developing brand names in the luxury market.