Breaking free of boundaries
Despite the recognition she has received so far – in 2021, DuPho, the Dutch Photographers association, awarded her its Student SO Documentary prize – Bebe says her distinctive style hasn't always worked in her favour. "My work is very specific and quite political, so maybe sometimes I'm a bit hard to define for someone who is commissioning. What I do gain from my specific style is that a lot of people who come to me want to work on long-term projects. And not only from the photography field, but also from outside. They find it fascinating to work with a medium that is somewhere in between documentary and fiction."
Bebe has made a concerted effort not to worry too much about how her work is defined. "I'm still always struggling to figure out what box I belong in – which I'm trying to give up on now, because I don't think it's that important for me," she says. "I'm now working on a project not only with photography, but also with sound and video. It's going to be mixed media and it's also going to be presented much more as a set of experiments instead of a full, finished series."
As for advising other student photographers who want to follow in her footsteps, Bebe recommends honing your style but also ensuring that you don't become constrained by it. "Experiment in school, but don't think that what you're doing now is the only thing you could do afterwards," she says. "Having a style is great, but you have to match that with the work you're making. You need to look at a story and think, is the style you're working in now going to fit that story or should you adjust it a little? Some elements will always stay, but it doesn't need to be set in stone."