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Fashion's favorite snapper always in vogue

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(CNN) -- Mario Testino traverses the worlds of fashion and celebrity with ease, having shot campaigns for the biggest names in the business.

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Testino believes art and business can be easy bedfellows -- a philosophy that has made him so successful.

Testino believes that art and business can be easy bedfellows.

Now considered an iconic figure in fashion photography, his pictures have produced some of the defining images of an era, and have adorned the walls of art galleries.

Born in Lima, Peru in 1954, Testino attended an American Catholic school in his native country.

His father was in the oil business and used his teenage son's English language skills to his advantage by taking him along to translate on business trips to New York.

It was in New York that Testino's passion for fashion first began, often shocking Peruvians back home with the latest hippy styles he would pick up in the Big Apple.

Testino credits his father for steering him towards photography, encouraging his son at a young age to choose a career he would enjoy. Before settling on photography, he attended five different universities, in Peru, the United States and England.

With little talent for drawing or design, Testino found he had skills in photography, which enabled him to pursue his interest in fashion.

He moved to London in his early 20's, first to study, then working as an assistant for theatre photographer John Vickers until he died. Work was hard to come by and so Testino worked as a waiter, eventually taking photos of his colleagues at the restaurant, who happened to be aspiring models, in his spare time.

In the late 1970's, with no money, he called on his bank to give him a loan to buy lights.

Once Testino found his own style, the work soon came in and he embarked on a roller coaster, working for the world's top fashion magazines in New York, Milan and Paris. His popularity grew -- and fell -- as rapidly as the trends he followed.

But when staple of the American glossies, Vanity Fair commissioned him to photograph Diana, Princess of Wales just months before her death in 1997, his career hit a point from which there was no turning back.

His popularity with the royal family has continued since then, with Testino the photographer to capture the 21st birthdays of Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry.

In 2002, Testino's work was exhibited in a retrospective at London's National Portrait Gallery -- it quickly became the gallery's most popular exhibition.

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To mark the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, London's National Portrait Gallery on St Martin's Place is showing a selection of portraits, including Testino's.

As well as the cover and a spread on American actress Renee Zellweger, and another on British actor Hugh Grant, he has also shot campaigns for fashion labels Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, which also appear in the same issue. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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