Peruvian born Mario Testino is one of the outstanding photographers of his generation, and is perhaps best known for his much celebrated work in fashion photography. On his photo session with the late Princess of Wales; Mario Testino said "Photographing Diana, Princess of Wales, for Vanity Fair in 1997 was one of the most memorable days of my career".
On the session day; Testino remembers: "I tried to determine what would make the sitting special. I said to her: It's really difficult for me to call you Ma'am because I call my mother ma'am and you're younger than me. She just said call me Diana. And I thought it's odd that I have the possibility and opportunity to be sitting next to her in a very private way, in a very intimate way. We started chatting and I said let's do it as if we're just having a conversation, the two of us, on the sofa. And that's how I started photographing her."
Testino denies having decided beforehand the natural look of the photos and said: "I thought it might be better to have her real, you know. After sending some of the portraits to her; Princess Diana said to me at the time that her children had said to her it was the most 'her' they had seen."
When the pictures came out at Vanity Fair Magazine in 1997, Testino said: "People said to me God, you've changed her, and I thought I didn't do that much. I don't like falseness, I like reality. I think in an unconscious way, I just wanted to feel that whoever would see the pictures would feel that they were with her."
Ten years after this unforgettable photo session of Princess Diana of Wales; Mario Testino published a book which contain a selection of about seventy photographs that includes many unseen images which, alongside previously published images, fill in the untold story of the photo session that day.
In November 2005, Testino's photos of Diana, Princess of Wales, were displayed at the State Apartments in Kensington Palace, showing the Princess in a state of relaxation and intimacy unlike any other. Testino teamed up with the designer Patrick Kinmonth and the curators at Kensington Palace to create an exhibition which celebrates the unique contribution of Princess Diana.
On that particular experience, he said: "When I went to see the prints at the lab, they're large prints and I tell you, I had a knot in my throat because I could feel her. She felt there, she felt next to me; it was a really, really strange thing. Now when I see them blown up, they're very present, they're very real, you can feel the person."
When he was asked why did it take so long for him to publish them, Testino said: "I had to wait for the right moment. I hope that the design will reflect my respect and admiration for Princess Diana in this celebration of her life."
Diana Princess Of Wales, By Mario Testino. Publication Date: 01 December 2005
Mario Testino And Princess Diana After The Photo Session At Kensington Palace