Testino grew up in Lima, the eldest son of a businessman. When he was young he wanted to be a priest. Testino studied economics at Universidad del Pacífico.In 1976 he went to London to study photography. Living in an unconverted floor of a hospital, without much money, he funded himself by working as a waiter. He had his hair dyed pink which helped him get noticed as a photographer.He is one of six children born to an Italian father and an Irish mother. Testino attended theUniversidad del Pacifico, the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru and the University of San Diego. In 1982 Testino moved permanently to London.
Testino has shot fashion stories for Vogue, Gucci, and Vanity Fair. Celebrity subjects have most famously included Diana, Princess of Wales and her sons. Also more recently Prince William and Catherine Middleton on the occasion of their engagement in December 2010. Other subjects have included many actresses such as Kim Basinger, Emma Watson, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, models such as Claudia Schiffer, Gisele Bündchen, Elizabeth Hurley, and Kate Moss, performers such as Janet Jackson, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Kristen Stewart,Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga, and public figures like Baroness Thatcher. Living in London, he continues to photograph the British Royal Family as well as shooting campaigns for Burberry, Gucci, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana, Estée Lauder, Valentinoand Versace. Testino is currently represented exclusively by Art Partner. He and fashion stylist Carine Roitfeld are credited for drawing significant attention to the house of Gucci through provocative ad campaigns in the mid-1990s, which, along with Tom Ford’s designs, eventually led to the revival of Gucci as a major fashion house.
Testino has become one of the world’s most well known and celebrated fashion photographers.
Testino has been honored for his contributions to many charitable causes and organizations, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Testino has been lauded with a number of awards and recognitions for his achievements and charitable work, including a Doctor Emeritus from the University of the Arts, London, the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award, the Medalha Tiradentes from the city of Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and the Grand Cross Order of Merit from the city of Lima, Peru. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2011.