BTS: Mario Testino Photographs the Entirety of Vogue China's 100th Issue

Last year, Vogue China approached Mario Testino to be the sole photographer for their 100th issue, a task which the legendary fashion photographer took to with great relish. Recently, Testino released the making-of video that documents the work that went into this issue. This is not one of those annoying fashion videos that is over in thirty seconds after bombarding you with bad techno music and flashy editing. Instead, this feature offers some excellent insights into how Vogue develop their concepts, as well as behind-the-scenes footage offering glimpses of how each shoot was set up.

For the first time, the magazine featured only Chinese models, focusing on past styles as well as making statements about the contemporary culture of China and its place in fashion, each requiring a completely different treatment and style. The resulting images are a testament to Testino's versatility, capturing scenes ranging from the classic to the bold and futuristic.

Aspiring fashion photographers watching this video should note all the different types of lighting utilized for the shoots. Soft natural light is used to capture the elegance of the 1950s styled fashion, the punk style shoot was lit almost like a movie set with a mix of tungsten and fluorescent lights, while the Chinese opera inspired fashion was captured with a hard direct flash. It is a helpful reminder of how much of a role light plays in creating the right atmosphere.

Testino also highlights the importance of viewing his shoots like an editor, paying attention to the details and performance of his subject instead of being too caught up with the work of photography. This allows his work to have a strength of vision and impact that many photographers strive for but often find elusive. Testino's ability to adapt and innovate has made him an enduring figure in the fashion world and a voice that is still so relevant today.

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13 Comments

Randy Budd's picture

Thanks for sharing this wonderful video. Very few exist at Mario's level of skill and vision.

David Lara's picture

Wow, definitely one of the best BTS videos i've seen posted here. Mario is a beast to say the least. You can help to enjoy the final images throughout the video and to see his versatility is uncanning. It certainly reminds us that it's more than just ending up with great images but vision, client relation, building a great team are all components that will help you to stand above the crowds. Definitely inspiring.

Question: anybody know or can figure out what that small P&S looking camera he carries around with? Probably a leica?

Jason Lau's picture

It looks like a Minox 35GT to me.

Its a Contax TVS III, he also uses a Contax T3 a lot.

Anthony Tripoli's picture

Thanks for sharing this. I love Mario's work, and it is always a pleasure to see behind the scenes of his work. I love that he uses a mix of natural light, strobes, and constant light, as well as both medium format and DSLR.

Pretty rad and inspiring BTS. Jason thanks for sharing!

Anonymous's picture

He's good. He blends in and understands. But frankly... Vogue is the quintessence of superficial shit.

Paul Ferradas's picture

I'm always fascinated by Mario's work. Who knows, I may be biased since I was also born in Lima Peru. A couple of things that I noticed in the video dealing with gear. I see that he uses the Photek Softlighter softbox but what's up with the clips around the umbrella? Iv'e noticed that Annie Leibovitz does the same thing with hers. I have one and don't see the need for the clips, just curios. I'm also curious as to why his camera tech is always touching his camera while he shoots? Maybe he's adjusting shutter/aperture instead of telling Mario that he's blowing out or under/over exposed? What do you guys think?

Fabian Pourmand's picture

Hey Paul, the clips are for extra diffusion sheet that they attach to the light.

Paul Ferradas's picture

Really? That's cool, where have you seen that? I'd like to check it out

Fabian Pourmand's picture

Here are three examples of the additional diffusion for the softer light since its in such close proximity

Ferch de Haro's picture

Anyone can comment on why they think he uses the tripod so much?

That camera weighs a ton, and he's an old man. At least it should mean that his crop is correct, saving his retouchers some grief - they already work 15 hour days ;)