Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz Critical Appraisal

Photography for Fashion
Critical Appraisal
Ellie Round
Critical Appraisal of Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz
Mario Testino was born in 1954 in Lima,
Peru. It was after moving to London in 1976
that he photographed his first cover and
editorial for Over21 Magazine, but it was in
1997 that he hit the a highpoint in his career
when he photographed Diana Princess of
Wales for her Vanity Fair shoot in 1997. Since
then he has become a regular photograph for
the Royal family.
Testino has become a world renowned
photographer, photographing for magazines
across the globe such as Vogue, Vanity Fair
and V. His photographs look very polished and
he tends to work with strong colours and
It can be seen in his photograph (fig. 1)
that during post production the contrast has
been increased greatly which gives a super
effect to the finished image.
Fig 1: Vogue China (2010) Mario Testino
Testino appears to use a fast shutter
speed for his photographs as they appear crisp and clean with a lot of attention to
detail within the models clothing, (fig. 2) which again contributes to the super real
feel of the photos and their very artificial hard edge.
I can be pointed out that his images can come across a little harsh to look at due to
the high production value (fig 3) and could possibly make an editorial look too ‘fake’
to the reader.
Fig 2: V (2013) Mario Testino
Fig 3: Spanish Vogue (2010) Mario Testino
In comparison, Annie Leibovitz’s photography bares similar traits to that of
Testino where more often than not her images create the super real.
Annie Leibovitz is an American photographer who began her caeer in 1970
when she started working for Rolling Stone magazine where she eventually became
cheif photographer and worked there for 10 years.
Like Testino, Leibovitz uses bold colours within her
photography (fig 4). She developed this signature
style whilst working for Rolling Stones whereas before
she mainly photographed in black and white.
Leibovitz tries to tell a story within her photographs.
An image of a lady at what seems like a murder scene
(fig 6) could be interpreted in various different ways. It
seems as though the woman featured has murdered
the gentleman, possibly her husband but has
remained at the scene of the crime. The lighting from
the camera flash gives the image a very hard and
harsh light across the body making the gentleman the
main focus of the image.
Leibovitz tends to hid her model behind a costume or
concept which may be seen as trying to distract
attention away from the model themself and focus
mainly on the artwork that is her photography (fig 5).
Although Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz’s
Fig 4: Kohl’s (2010) Annie
photography bares strong similaries in that they use
bold colours, high contrast and fast shutter speeds, they also differ in many ways.
Leibovitz’s main focus seems to be that of celebrities and they way in which they are
portrayed to the public. In the image of Britney Spears (fig 4) there seems to be
some contradicting elements within the photograph. The candy floss and the pink
background resembles innocence which could be a reference to her when she first
emeraged as a pop star but the short dress, black high heels and the way in which
she is posed gives off a ‘bad girl’ image which seems to be a reference to the way in
which the media have portrayed her in recent years. In contrast Mario Testino’s
image of Miley Cyrus (fig 2) seems to give off a ‘rebel’ persona in the way that she is
posed so casually and styled in blackleather clothing, which seems to fit almost
exactly to the way in which she is portrayed in the media. It appears however he
mostly photographs models for fashion rather than featuring a celebrity.
Fig 5: Vogue (2009) Annie Leibovitz
Fig 6: Vanity Fair (2007) Annie Leibovitz
Kinmonth, P (1998). Any Objections? London: Phaidon Press Limited
Leibovitz, A. (2010). Britney Spears [online image] Available at: (Accessed 1st March
Leibovitz, A (2009) Nicole Kidman [online image] Available at: (Accessed 1st March
Leibovitz, A. (2007) Vanity Fair [online image] Available at: (Accessed 1st March
Leibovitz,A. (1999) Women. London : Jonathan Cape
Leibovitz, A. (1983) Photographs. London: Thames and Hudson
Leibovitz, A. (1974) The Photojournalist. New York: T. Y. Crowell
Vogue. (n.d.). Mario Testino.[Internet] Available: (Accessed 1st March
Testino, M (2013) Miley Cyrus [online image] Available at: (Accessed 1st March 2014)
Testino, M (2013) Vogue China [online image] Available at: (Accessed 1st March 2014)
Testino, M (2010) Spanish Vogue [online image] Available at: {Accessed 1st March 2014)