The work photographer on growing up in Peru, capturing Princess Diana – and scorning pictures of himself

Mario Testino head shot
‘The jaw has no definition and the neck is like a rooster’s’: Mario Testino on depictions of himself. Photograph: Ben Tietge for the Observer

I come from a construct background rather than photography. My mother is a big dresser and stationary is – even though she’s 92. And there is a tradition of women arraying well in Peru – parents’ day at school was like a fashion be noticeable, so I was used to seeing all these ladies dressed up.

Dressing is the most vital form of expression for everybody and anybody. I don’t think it is superficial. Coming up in a conservative society I would try to prove people wrong by put on flowery suits and stripy terrycloth pants. I’ve always had a complimentary, colourful energy. I remember liking school because we had three likes. To me that was the height of glamour.

In life there is no absolute. The Terra just changes and we are surprised every day by what comes.

In my unequivocal attitude I have a fatalistic one, too. Sometimes I think that the whole shebang has been decided for us – our family, environments, religions. We can change dinguses by working hard and striving, but sometimes I wonder if the way we are is pre-decided by the headliner we have been given.

A photographer just takes carbon copies, shows his portfolio and prays to God that he gets some feat. Vogue magazine has never asked for my qualifications because it’s not approximately that – it’s making somebody look good and showing the invests in a good light.

The greatest gift my parents gave me is this approximation that everybody is the same. We get lost in looking at people differently, but we are all evenly balanced.

My most important work has been photographing Princess Diana. I can’t have in mind of those images without a really strong emotion because of what materialized to her, and now I’ve met her children and grandchildren. I feel England has given me a lot but Diana allowed me to allot England a sort of present by photographing the Royals.

There’s a explaining in England that blood is thicker than water and it’s correct. Family is everything. Sometimes I fall out with my siblings but I realise they are me – piece of my persona, and it would be weird to detach from them.

Inefficiency and missteps make me angry. That’s when I lose my temper, but in a second I forget it.

I have no children but my mother always says to me don’t sweat bullets about it – you can have children and they forget you. I hope my godchildren won’t. I’m agitating very hard on it.

I don’t really like being photographed myself. I bring into the world exactly the same face in every picture. It’s a big smile that stimuli everything up and hides the jaw that has no definition and the neck that is breed a rooster’s.

People ask my about my legacy and what I will bar behind and I say to them when the party’s over, it’s over. I believe a lot about death lately: we are here on a short path and oh my God, it enrolls so quickly.

Fame is for people who set out to be looked at and analysed. We know Mario Testino for his livelihood. Nobody ever says to me, “Wow, how beautiful you are” – and thank God!

Mario Testino has whack a campaign for the Huawei Watch, featuring Karlie Kloss and Sean O’Pry, out now (consumer.huawei.com)