By Marie-Christin Tripolt

Babeth Albert is a young and talented graduate from Luca School of Arts in Brussels. For her bachelor project she chose to focus on underwater photography and the outcome is more than just worth seeing. It’s the connection between the human being and water that has caught the photographer’s attention. Jute Fashion Magazine asked the ambitious newcomer about her inspiration, the background of her Hydriads series and the process of choosing the best photos. Read more about Babeth and get to know her incredible work that can be found below and also at the “Water 2017” exhibition from December 22, 2017 – January 27, 2018 in America.

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Marie-Christin Tripolt: How did you get the idea for your Hydriads series?

Babeth Alebert: I have always been fascinated by the sea. I tried to combine this with my greatest passion, photography. In the past I have experimented with nude photography underwater in a swimming pool. This made me realize that there was a lot more to do with this. After some research, I concluded that underwater images combined with women are often depicted in the same way. Dancing, elegant women with long, lush dresses. I tried to release this issue, and so I looked for a new, refreshing view on underwater photography. This made it a big challenge and experiment for me.

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MCT: What is it that makes one photo better than the other one? How do you choose which picture makes it in the series?

BA: This is a very long process. By several times going through all the pictures and occasionally resting, after a few weeks, you will eventually come out of your selection. It is also important to get different opinions from both those in the profession and outsiders. This can sometimes cause confusion, but ultimately, these inputs provide new insights. It’s also difficult to make a series, you have to select depending on the whole. Does one picture enhance the other or not?

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MCT: The Hydriads series focuses on humans and nature and their connection. What is it that makes this connection so fascinating for you?

BA: The fact that these women are under water. Water is indispensable to humans, yet these people are not in their natural habitat. What was interesting to me was to see what impact this has on the human body, which starts to take on strange forms. Water, on the one hand, gives a sense of freedom, on the other hand, a sense of powerlessness. This provides resistance to movement, but on the other hand it has a floating power. This duality can be found throughout the series. This feeling I try to show in conjunction with portraits and details of natural elements, where to me the harmony of elegance, femininity and mysticism emerges. I consciously chose an atmosphere, color and light game that appears underwater.

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MCT: How did you get the series started? What were your first steps?

BA: What meaning can humans have under water? For this question I was looking for answers in the history of Greek mythology, philosophy, painting, … These stories integrate me, but I did not want to portray them literally. It’s more about the atmosphere, the meaning given to water and the way in which women were portrayed. I was also looking for the meaning of ‘water’ by doing research on some great photographers throughout history. This research has widened my insight. Given the theme, the location was one of the most important elements. After a search, I found a diving center that had just opened and this proved to be the first in Europe with fresh water and with over 2,000 tropical fish. Here I wanted to make my project. As I do not have a diving license and I’m limited in terms of budget as a student, this became an ever bigger challenge. So the pictures are made purely on holding breath and natural daylight. Then I looked for interesting faces that could keep my attention. For this I have mainly used social media and young models that also wanted to expand their portfolio. After some organizational work, I managed to capture a good team of models, assistants, makeup artists and stylist. Then the biggest challenge was to make the models feel comfortable. Technically, I also tested different possibilities. Throughout this search I have known some setbacks and I have occasionally encountered myself, but so I have also made new discoveries. The number of recording days in the water was limited, given the great preparatory and organizational work that precedes this. Physically, these days were not underestimated.

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MCT: On your webpage I found so many different types of photography. There are pictures of food, but also portraits and of course the photos from your Hydriads series. But is there a favorite kind of photography for you?

BA: I specialize in portrait photography, conceptual photography and fashion, but I’m open to getting to know each type of photography better. The Hydriads series became a bigger project that I wanted to exhibit and that would also be used as a graduation project. I would type myself as a photographer who looks especially at humans, color, composition and atmosphere. In the future, I would like to do more work that can be exhibited in galleries, I get a lot of satisfaction doing this type of work.

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MCT: And finally, if you had to describe the Hydriads series in only 3 words, which ones would you take?

BA: Atmosphere, mystery and aesthetics.

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