© Marc Burden // Portrait of C&A


Marc Burden

The Story Behind the Portrait

This portrait is of the drag artist C&A who I photographed on New Years Day 2017. It was taken at The Northcote pub in Leyton, a venue that hosts a popular weekly drag night.

I have long been interested in photographing this strand of live entertainment dating back to the late 80’s when I photographed drag artists in a now, long forgotten East End of London before gentrification. This current work effectively revisits the same subject matter but now over two decades later.

Many of my photographic projects originate from a starting point of trying to examine the façade that we present to the world. Whether that is as a persona we project to aid performance in front of others, or as a barrier to protect our inner selves.

When I started this project, I had a vague idea that it would be a simple two-step photography process to represent the ideas; capturing the before and the after when the acts were in full drag. By chance my first shoot was a charity event featuring several different acts. One of these acts, C&A, was already partly made up. At the time taking these photographs of her didn’t seem to fit in with my initial overall vision, but when I later reviewed those images several days later I saw an image where the everyday male identity intersected with the extravagant female persona. This seemed a rather more relevant and perhaps telling aspect of what I was trying to portray in documenting the world of drag artists.

The portrait above is from a recent session where I photographed C&A. I find that these recurring encounters increasingly help to define and shape what I am hoping to achieve, and perhaps also signal change in my approach both technically and creatively.


Marc is a London based photographer. He studied photography at The West Surrey College of Art & Design and at the London College of Communication.

His images have been featured in both national and international publications and he has exhibited in London, Belgrade and Tehran. Since 2009, in addition to editorial work, he has concentrated on long term personal projects and raising a family.