Ten Fascinating Facts about Mario Sorrenti You Probably Haven’t Heard Before

In this post, we’ll delve into the sometimes surreal and always interesting world of renowned fashion and editorial photographer, Mario Sorrenti. Whether you’re a casual fan of his work or a lifetime devotee, there’s bound to be a few hidden gems and intriguing facts that you haven’t come across before. So, get ready to enter the ‘Sorrenti zone’, an encounter with a true virtuoso of the lens.

1. His Early Life

Mario Sorrenti was born in Naples, Italy in 1971. His father was a small businessman, while his mother was a fine art illustrator. When he was only 10 years old, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Yorkville, an Italian-American enclave in Manhattan. Mario’s mother was determined that her children would be exposed to the cultural mixture of New York and its artistic influences.

This cultural exposure planted the seeds of his future path towards the world of photography and fashion. In his youth, he used to accompany his mother to photography exhibitions and museums, and she would often encourage him to express himself through visual arts. His early transition to a different culture, combined with the constant nudging from his artistic mother made his path towards photography, almost inevitable.

2. His Inspiration

Mario’s biggest inspiration was his mother, Francesca Sorrenti, a fine art illustrator. Francesca had an enthusiastic interest in photography and fashion that vastly influenced Sorrenti. Despite her passing over twenty years ago, her impact on his work is still tangible in his style and methodology.

The young Sorrenti also found inspiration in the streets of New York and the experiences he had while growing up there. He was fascinated by the raw reality and poignant moments of everyday life, and these influences can clearly be seen in his body of work. The early exposure to American culture and its artistic contrasts significantly influenced his perception of beauty and art.

3. Beginnings as a Photographer

Mario’s career in photography began quite casually. He started taking photos of his friends and peers while he was still in high school. He was given his first camera by his parents during this period, and the rest, as it were, is history.

The organic and highly personal style of his early photography caught the eye of many in the fashion industry, eventually landing him gigs with some of the largest fashion magazines in the world. His early works were characterized by a signature style that blended the spontaneous, casual nature of street photography with a structured, detail-oriented approach to fashion photography.

4. Relationships and collaborations

One of his notable relationships was with the British model Kate Moss, during the ’90s. Not only were they romantically involved, but their collaboration also led to some iconic fashion images of the decade. The photoshoots are still recognized as a watershed moment that has had a lasting influence on fashion photography.

Sorrenti is also greatly recognized for his collaborations with numerous high-end fashion brands and magazines. He has consistently worked with the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and brands such as Calvin Klein, Dior, and Saint Laurent, producing memorable campaigns and editorial shoots.

5. The Calvin Klein Obsession Campaign

Arguably the work most synonymous with Sorrenti’s name is the Calvin Klein Obsession campaign featuring Kate Moss. This marks one of the most defining moments in his career. Interestingly, it was his relationship with Moss that landed him the gig. The campaign, shot in 1993, with its intense and sensual black and white images, revolutionized the advertising industry and established Sorrenti’s reputation as an acclaimed photographer.

Looking at the images now, their rawness and intimacy still stand out. The campaign was unique in many ways, not the least of which is that it was shot on the Virgin Islands over a course of ten days—unusual for fashion advertorials of that time. Their real-life relationship at the time added an intensity to the images that viewers couldn’t ignore.

6. Influence on the ‘Heroin Chic’ Trend

In the late 90s, there was a significant shift in the perception of beauty in fashion modeling. Smiling, healthy models were being replaced by waifish, seemingly ‘wasted’ ones—an aesthetics that came to be known as ‘Heroin Chic’. Sorrenti’s works, especially his shoots with Kate Moss, are often cited as influential in this trend.

However, he has expressed his discomfort with this label multiple times. According to him, his photography simply aimed at capturing the reality, the flawed and raw beauty that he saw in his subjects rather than projecting an idealized, glamorous image. Yet, the correlation has been drawn numerous times by critics and enthusiasts, making it an important point in any discussion about his work.

7. His Sister Vanina

The one person from his family who shared his artistic journey is his sister, Vanina Sorrenti, also a professional photographer. Interestingly, she and Mario have worked on numerous projects together, influencing and learning from each other’s work.

Like Mario, Vanina has also made a name for herself capturing naturalistic, undefended moments in her subjects. Her work features in reputable fashion magazines as well. The Sorrenti siblings have clearly marked an impressive footprint together in the world of photography.

8. Draw Blood for Proof

In 2010, Mario exhibited a selection of Polaroid images in his book and exhibition titled “Draw Blood for Proof”. The collection gave viewers a fascinating inside look into Sorrenti’s life and process as a working photographer. It is filled with unedited, behind the scenes snaps that reveal the truth behind the glamour and glitz of a high-profile fashion shoot.

This work is particularly interesting because it explores the duality of Sorrenti’s experience—exotic locales, stunning models, decadent excess and the stark reality of grueling schedules, clinical precision, and stress.

9. Awards and Recognition

Mario Sorrenti has been recognized several times for his contribution to the field of fashion and editorial photography. He received the Photo District News award in 1996 for his excellence in commercial photography. The series of images he composed for Pirelli Calendar and his work with ‘Vogue Homme’ also earned him additional acclaim.

Beyond these, his work in itself has been substantially influential, and has shaped the aesthetic direction of fashion photography over the years. His work has been celebrated, exhibited, and critically acclaimed across various platforms in the fashion, art and commercial world.

10. Commercial and Artistic Approaches

His ability to embrace both the commercial and artistic aspects of photography has been a hallmark of Sorrenti’s career. He does not strictly categorized himself as just a ‘fashion photographer’. Despite working regularly with commercial brands and fashion titles, he has consistently explored personal and artistic projects, reflecting his wide spectrum of interests and his unwillingness to be phototyped

Whether it is in his versatility in visual storytelling or his bravura use of color and texture, Sorrenti stands as a resounding testament to the blurred boundaries between commercial and fine art photography. His blend of raw and polished aesthetics have earned him a unique spot among his contemporaries and successors alike.


Undoubtedly, Mario Sorrenti is a force to be reckoned with in the cosmos of photography. With his unique voice and visually compelling narrative, he has not only established himself as one of the most influential photographers of his generation, but also paved the way for the next. So, if you want to learn more about this creative genius, we have curated some useful links for you:

Mario Sorrenti’s Official Website

Mario Sorrenti’s Instagram

Mario Sorrenti’s Vogue Interview

Mario Sorrenti’s ArtNet Page