On first impression Testino's formula seems simple - take one celebrity, an exotic location and simply point and click. This idea, however, could not be further from the truth. Upon close inspection of any one of the books many images, one realises Testino's devotion to the perfection of his photographic skill.
The subjects, ranging from Hollywood movie stars through to catwalk models, musicians and several members of the Royal Family, are shown in ways often previously unseen. Puff Daddy appears with his finger to his lips - as though he were asking the viewer to conceal the 'naughtiness' implied by the semi-nude female in this same frame. Madonna appears in front of a sofa on 'all fours', Robbie Williams appears cheekily concealing his smile with his sparkly union jack undies.
While often cheeky, none of the images are even mildly offensive. Testino has endeavoured to never give us the same photo or idea twice - backgrounds include cityscapes, riversides, woodland and stately homes. Props heighten the mood in all pictures, figures carry butcher knives, drugs or even, in Julia Roberts' case, a live squirrel!
The artist's knowledge of composition and lighting are impeccable. Often Testino has used body parts to soften the edges of the photo and the various light sources add a touch of magic. Gwyneth Paltrow, for example, seems to meet the viewer in an atmosphere of soft bright light and beautifully merging pastel colours, as if she were walking in a dream.
Combined with insightful text that is a pleasure to read, Mario Testino's passion for his life and the images he draws from it are presented in format that serves not only as a treat for art lovers of all kinds but as an excellent reference for the serious photographer.