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Tips & Tricks

Image Deconstructed | How To Recreate & Shoot A Modern Mario Testino Shot

By Holly Roa on October 8th 2016

Recreating another photographer’s work that you admire is a truly valuable learning opportunity. You discover what to look for in order to sleuth out how an image was made, and once you figure it out, you’ve added to your arsenal of photographic techniques as well as strengthened your skill to do it again with different images.

First, you have to analyze the image – really look at the details to discern how the image was lit, at what focal length and aperture it was shot, what the model was wearing, and how hair and makeup were done. Once you’ve got an idea of everything, it’s time for trial and error. In this video, you get to accompany Marius Troy and Jason Setiawan through this process for their recreation of Mario Testino’s photograph of Kristen Stewart, shot for a 2016 Chanel campaign.


They begin by deducing that only one light was likely used. Noting somewhat harsh shadows and a large catchlight they opt for a medium octabox and remove the outer diffusion layer, leaving the inner one in place. The octabox is placed in approximation to where the light appears to be coming from in Mario Testino’s photograph, to be tweaked once the model is on set.



Next, we observe the importance of working and communicating with a hair and makeup artist. We get to see Abraham Sprinkle, a professional hair and makeup artist, exhibit his expertise, doing his own deconstruction of the Testino photo in order to match model Jenny Folsom‘s makeup to Kristen Stewart’s.



The set is prepared, using a large white reflector for a backdrop in lieu of a white wall. After the light is metered to f/11 the model arrives and the light is repositioned based on where the shadows fall on her face. They try out different poses and expressions until they feel they have a good match.





After analyzing all the components that come together to make Mario Testino’s photograph, this is what the team produced. What do you think? Is there anything you would have done differently? Let us know in the comments!

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    In the comparison final result photo, I noticed that they did not take into account, the position of her hand. Other than that, it’s a pretty good knockoff.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Yeah it caught my attention also, but I think they did a great job with this one. I was really paying attention to the SOOC shots on the back of the camera and they were very good. Curious, however, how the background woudlve looked if this shot wasn’t black and white, because you can see tonal changes in the LCD on the background. But all around, extremely well done and good for people to see

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