Mario Testino has photographed hundreds of famous faces over the years, and most of the images have undergone some level of retouching before making it to the editorial pages of fashion magazines. Recently, however, he stepped away from his norm to photograph non-professional “models” as part of Dove’s #RealBeauty campaign. Vogue spoke to the famous photographer about retouching, and he shared some conflicting and potentially controversial comments we totally relate to.
Of the modern-day ubiquitousness of Photoshop, he said, “I talk to the girls who put their selfies on Instagram; they all retouch everything, and that’s their prerogative. I mean, people put on makeup, dye their hair, [get] fake teeth, contact lenses. Why not?” He went on, however, to argue the opposite perspective: “To me, something without flaws isn’t exciting. Perfection I find quite boring because it’s not real. It doesn’t have a consequence at the end of the day. At least in photography, I try to perfect something and then destroy it so that it becomes alive.”
We agree wholeheartedly with his points and find it refreshing that he’s able to make honest and compelling arguments on both sides of this important conversation. When asked if he sensed a shift in fashion towards more eclectic portrayals of beauty, Testino responded, “What are we seeing today? Models like Christy Turlington, Kate Moss: They’re still around and they’re in their 40s, not 20-year-old models. For me, it’s been great to do the [Dove campaign], because it was an exercise for myself: What happens if I don’t change anything? If I don’t retouch [these women], is the result the same? I want that to influence the pictures that I do for magazines, rather than the other way around; because, in a way, it makes us in our business kinder and gentler and less hard on each other.” Amen, Mario.