Vogue Fashion Festival : Mario Testino at South Bank

If you follow me on twitter/fb/instagram you’ll know this time last weekend , friends and I were en-route to see Mario Testino. At this point last week, we were squealing like kids on xmas eve. Not really, at this point last week, the crazy shenanigans of Friday & Saturday had caught up with us and we could just about get out of bed to get ready and leave to get to South Bank for the festival. And as we got to South Bank we were still half dead thinking ‘WOW we should have been a bit more ‘grown-up’ about this’. But hey, there’s no fun in that!

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Friday night I ended up in a indie book store in Notting Hill – Spotted Testino’s ‘Portraits’ book and grabbed my copy. I been meaning to buy it for a while, and I’d much rather buy it from a indie book store. Purchased!

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It’s the first time I’ve been around South Bank – I loved it. There’s an area for skaters & BMX’ers to do their thing, and the walls are plastered with mind blowing graffiti art. As we edged over to the other side of the bridge, we saw Rankin’s ‘Front Row’ work plastered to the wall. I love that man’s work. And it was all in Black & White. Double whammy. Sam took this as I stood there in AWE. Thinking ‘WOWEEE’.  Thanks Sam!



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Headed into the venue and it was looking pretty swoosh. It wasn’t as pretentious as the day before though – sigh of relief.

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Apologies for the crap photos – We were really dead 😉

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And then we headed on over to the hall where the talk was taking place. It was pretty epic. The talk was pretty insightful, I mean, not technically, but it was more based on how Testino started out and how he’s ended up being one of the top photographers in the world working with hugely successful artists / models / magazines. It was inspiring, and reaffirming that anything IS possible. If you want it bad enough.

– Did you know, it took Testino 15+ years to be noticed? No-one would pay him for his work he did in the early days. (Seems to be a re-ocurring pattern this)
– Did you know ‘chance’ made him meet the current editor of Vogue magazine and a relationship was formed via ‘chance’? (Hard work and a bit of luck maybe?)
– Did you know Testino ran away to London and squatted in a room (trusting your struggle and following your instinct maybe?)
– Did you know, that he had to self reflect – he had to really look at himself and learn about who and what he was, as a person and he looked at his culture and where he grew up, which then later reflected in his work, and that unique quality is probably a huge strength in his work which makes his work distinct? He’s followed through on his unique vision that no-one can replicate (be true to yourself and really don’t be afraid of taking risks and being different?)
– One of the things that he said, and it seems to be a repeat statement from successful photographers, is that you need to be able to connect as ‘people’ to your subject, the basics (stay real folks?)

These are just some of the things that stuck to me, but he mentioned alot of things which ‘clicked’ and stuck to me.

It was pretty overwhelming to sit in a room with a top photographer who is still shooting for the top magazines at the age of 58, and for him to share a bit of his story with people who may be on a similar page to him at the age of 58. Let’s face it, the creative industry is f*&$*%$ challenging. Photography, Music, Writing, Fashion.  I think that’s real success – career wise. To achieve so much and then pass on some of the knowledge. It was an awesome experience – and I would totally recommend the trip down next year if it’s something you have thought about doing. Some experiences are priceless. This was most definitely one of them for me and my bud!


Here’s some pics – date stamp and everything!



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