Belfast Telegraph

Mario Testino: Versace family are like royalty

Mario Testino views the Versace dynasty as a royal family.

The iconic photographer is famed for his portraits of the British royal family. He famously took a casual picture of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and also took the official engagement portrait of her son Prince William and his now wife Catherine.

Mario has also worked in the fashion industry a lot. He feels he owes a debt to Donatella Versace as she helped him when he was starting out. The fashion house has used him for many of their campaigns, helping seal him as one of the world's leading photographers.

"I was shooting [Madonna] in Versace Couture in Milan - I was almost more nervous that Donatella was coming," he recalled of his first celebrity shoot.

"Donatella had a room prepared for her. It was the first time I saw a scented candle. I was amazed.

"The Versace family were so kind to me. Another kind of royal family, I think. I feel lucky that they embraced me and taught me."

Mario fell into photography by accident. He tried his hand at law, economics and international relations before a friend suggested he get behind the lens. He took a course, and the rest is history.

"In my first ten or 12 years in England, I got work but I was always in the red," he told the British edition of Grazia magazine. "It wasn't until this September that I felt I had finally arrived. I had six covers and 180 pages of editorial. For once, I felt I was accepted everywhere."

Mario believes the key to becoming a good photographer is to trust your instincts. He was always keen to shoot different kinds of women to those favoured by others in his profession, but believes that helped start new trends.

"Follow what you believe," he said, when asked what tips he'd give to those just starting out. "When I started, Bruce Weber was the big star photographer, so all the models were the ones he liked: sporty and outdoorsy. I couldn't find anyone, so I would go to the street looking for people who suited my aesthetic. When I met Gisele [Bündchen] in New York, I liked her immediately. No one was using her. I fought for her."

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