Photographer Mario Testino on Retouching and Real Beauty

Mario Testino talks about his Dove campaign and what he believes real beauty is.

Photo by Mark Von Holden

Photographer Mario Testino has worked in the fashion industry for quite a while. He’s photographed for everyone from Vanity Fair to GQ. In a recent interview with Vogue, the Peruvian photo genius discusses working on the Dove #RealBeauty campaign and how he feels about photoshopping pictures.

Spending many years in the fashion industry, Testino has seen many artists attempt different ideals, from “hyper-glamorizing” to un-retouched and naturally finished. He believes that despite the differences in photos, one thing will always be “in.”

“I think individuality is the thing that will probably stay.”

For Testino, working on the Dove campaign is perfect because it features people across the world whose main occupations range from the medical field to motherhood. These are real, un-retouched people that a viewer can look at and say “Hey, that’s me.”

“To me, something without flaws isn’t exciting. Perfection I find quite boring because it’s not real….I try to perfect something and then destroy it so that it becomes alive.”

“Especially in the times that we are living now, exclusion is becoming a worry. This company is working on inclusion.”

Leaving the people un-retouched gives viewers of the campaign a new ideal of beautiful. All of the “flaws,” the differences of reality that are pictured, whether it be marks or wrinkles present on the skin, is displayed as beautiful.

“By allowing all those things to exist, you’re opening that door to make a lot of people believe they are beautiful as well.”

TOWEL SERIES 123, PENÉLOPE CRUZ. #MarioTestino #TowelSeries @PenelopeCruzOficial

A post shared by MARIO TESTINO (@mariotestino) on

The women posing for the Dove project all brought their own clothing to model in the pictures. Testino wanted the real, individual women to showcase their real selves.

“It is not to change people; it’s to just bring out the essence.”


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