Anyone on the burlesque scene knows the burlesque photography of Veronika Marx, aka V’s Anchor Studio and her delicious images of performers, artistes and (increasingly) celebrities.
We first met Veronika back in 2016 when we commissioned her to photograph Kele le Roc (and our collaboration with Nearer The Moon lingerie) for a series of shows and she delivered the iconic shot below.
So who else were we going to collaborate with when we had new tracks that we needed covers for?
Jump to April 2022 and we’re in V’s home studio in south East London for a re-run with Kele where the burlesque photography is almost secondary to deep chats about spirituality, family and Instagram. But what Veronika Marx has created for the tracks, ‘Star of the Show’ and ‘We Are Who We Are’ is both unique and fabulous.
We hope you enjoy what’s emerged this time round…
BURLESQUE PHOTOGRAPHY V’S ANCHOR STYLE
Burlexe: How did you get into photography?
Veronika: I started work in a modelling agency as a model booker until I got a job in a photographic studio as a stylist – I originally studied fashion design. I realised I had a very different idea to the photographer and that’s when my OCD, my control freak came out and I wanted to do it myself.
I asked my boss about learning to use a professional camera and a month later, I gave my boss my notice.
Your work has such a distinct style.
It’s something I’ve learned over years and years and years, sitting in front of computer, learning new things. If I look back at 10 years ago and the work I was producing, it was horrendous. I can see that there was a person, with a desperation to develop. The idea was there, but badly done.
I’m the worst critic I can possibly meet. If I like the photography for 5 minutes, I get really happy, then after 5 mins, I start to criticise myself. That’s my circle of life.
When did your style start to sharpen up?
I don’t think I’m there yet. I still feel I have extreme hard work to bite through till I think I’ve done it.
INSPIRING AND INSPIRATION
What do you think people like about your work?
I think everyone comes to me because I over-edit. Everyone says I have a distinctive editing style. I’ve tried editing in a very natural way. But even if I were to spend three hours on an image to make it look very natural, something in my brain slips and it comes over over-edited. My brain doesn’t like it. I have to do it the way I do it.
Burlesque artists in general, have a burlesque personas, so it doesn’t necessarily need to look extremely natural. It’s not about being real, so it works. It wouldn’t work for fashion – my style is different. I like what I do.
As long as the person chooses me for what I do, I like to deliver what they ask for. I love that I have the diversity of performers and models. Every single day it’s different, everyone has such incredible stories that they bring. I ask questions. Whoever’s reading this, get ready, I’m nosey. I’m appropriately inappropriate, it just comes out that way.
How does inspiration come?
Most of the time, I get the ideas in the studio and from working with the model – something clicks and I start having ideas. If I’m getting ready for a big shoot, I look at fashion images – some people can see I clash modern images with burlesque.
You’ll also hear my models leave hurting because I put them in such awkward poses. I’m famous for that.
DITA VON TEESE AND BURLESQUE MODELS
What’s been your photography highlight?
That’s the toughest question I get. My highlight was when I was shooting Dita Von Teese’s show, I will always treasure that moment. It was great, but it was also extremely challenging because I’m a studio photographer and the lighting is different.
But my highlights always are when someone comes into the studio and leaves happy. I especially love when someone is coming into the studio and they say, ‘I’m not in the best shape’ but then something happens and they are nude – and they leave with a broad smile. In a way, I feel like I’m helping.
Anyone you’d still like to shoot with?
Dita – I would love to. I‘ve heard she’s great to work with. As a burlesque photographer, I would love to have that experience.
Hopefully one day I’ll manifest it – a proper shoot, not just a show.
There are loads of people I’d love to work with. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be a famous person, you just see a face and it interests you so much.
When people come to you, do they need to do any prep?
Well, the prepping is pretty easy. Burlesque artistes come to me if they’ve got new costumes, outfits, for a show or want to create something for themselves, so they know what to achieve.
If it’s someone new, we’ll talk beforehand and I’ll ask them to not wash their hair otherwise it won’t hold. Things like that. But there’s nothing to worry about, we sort out everything.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A BURLESQUE PHOTO SHOOT WITH VERONIKA MARX
In general, how should anyone get the most out of a shoot?
You should definitely choose a photographer who’s able to help you. Who’ll be able to think about the image coming out. It’s my job to help and talk you through things. We see if there’s an angle that makes them look pretty or beautiful. I’m an open mouth, I’m a clown. I make weird noises, people know when I see something that looks great. I tell them, put your hand here, there, pop the hip. Photographers are going to send images out there, so it’s good for us to direct the models.
Any advice on how to pose.
It never hurts to look at pictures, show the photographer what you like then you can try things together. But try it at home: a few days or day before the shoot, look at pictures with poses, then do it in front of the mirror. No one sees you. You can practice. You will see yourself looking great and that will give you confidence for the photoshoot.
VERONIKA MARX’S VIRTUAL BURLESQUE PHOTO SHOOTS
How to do a virtual shoot?
There are lots of photographers doing it now. They are super fun. And for someone like me, a nosey mofo, I love being with my model in their house nosing around and seeing how people live!
It’s really good for people who are not professional models, who may find a shoot in a studio daunting. This is done in your own environment,. We have a glass of wine, the models are in their own houses and they’ve got lots of stuff at home to change into. It’s fun.
Sometimes the posing directions are tougher because I can’t easily show them, I can’t stop talking. Because they don’t see the screen, I have to explain what I really want. I’m not English, so it’s tougher for me to explain but more rewarding. I love it.
I have lots of clients from America, so when my kids are in bed, mama’s having fun.
Virtual shoots are shorter, when the models log in, they’re ready to go and we shoot for about an hour. Sometimes it will still be against just a plain background, or white wall but I have a video call with them beforehand and get them to walk me around. Then I’ll see a flower, ask if they have a mirror…I get some ideas.
When did the virtual shoots start?
During lockdown, 20 or 21. Over a year now though. An American photographer was doing it. And so I started searching for an app. The first photo shoots I did during lockdown were through Zoom. Screenshotting. It was bad, but the images were good. But it was massive hard work.
I hate it. I still don’t know how to work it out. I’m constantly shadow banned because I shoot burlesque dancers and they’re naughty. I still don’t know how to get more followers. I’m sure I’m doing so many things I shouldn’t do!
Find out more about Veronika Marx and V’s Anchor Studio.
Follow V’s Anchor Studio on Instagram.
Find out more about our burlesque-inspired track with Kele le Roc, ‘Star of the Show’