Introducing a new series featuring Esbjerg internationals who are blazing their own trail, whether in business, community, or creative work.
Photographs: Claus Madsen / Juli Behrendt Bexkens
Text: Catriona Turner
First up, meet the hardworking family and wedding photographer with a passion for connection.
There was a moment towards the end of my chat with Juli Behrendt Bexkens, when her genuine passion for her photography shone through. Watching a young family gathering in the coffee shop at a neighbouring table, she explained, “What motivates me is the way I see the world, and especially people. For example, over there, I’m seeing such a lovely moment with that man and his baby, and I’m imagining the photo his mother would love to have of it.”
Juli began her business (Juli Behrendt Bexkens Photography) in 2018, about 18 months after the birth of her daughter. Looking for a way to express her creative side, she considered taking her photography more seriously. Suddenly friends and contacts were keen to make the most of her skills, and the business quickly took off.
Today, she’s kept even busier with a brand-new day job and her second child, now 11 months old. But Juli’s passion for photography gives her the energy to fit it all in. “Working in IT is highly technical, but I also have this artistic side. Photography is a really great way to express that. I need to do something that’s completely different from what I do on a normal work day.”
Challenges and opportunities I asked her what challenges she meets as an entrepreneur in Esbjerg. She mentioned its location on the west coast: “It’s different if you live somewhere in the middle of Denmark. Even in Kolding, there are a lot of larger cities within a shorter range. From Esbjerg, the audience is relatively small.”
"What motivates me is the way I see the world, and especially people." - Juli Behrendt Bexkens
But in that very limitation, Juli also sees a unique opportunity. “Esbjerg is that place where people can actually be self-starters. We need to step out more than in other places. That’s why people look at other options, one of which is to be your own boss.”
There’s also the advantage of Esbjerg being a newer, less-established town. Juli has found a market for her fresh, natural style of family photography, because “the market isn’t saturated, which is a big advantage about Esbjerg. In bigger cities, people have more choices.”
Focus on family
Born in Germany, with a Dutch husband, Juli says Esbjerg feels like home to their family. “Both our children were born in Denmark; we’re completely integrated into the system. We know where everything is.” They previously lived in Copenhagen but found the Esbjerg reaction to Danish-speaking internationals incredibly helpful. “Here, they’re much more patient if you speak Danish yourself. That helped us at the beginning to feel integrated, and it gave our Danish such a boost because we were speaking Danish to everybody.”
However, when I ask if somewhere else in the world feels like home, her answer is quick and emphatic. “Yes: New Zealand. I lived there for a long time, and it’s where I met my husband. It’s the place where I feel most at home. It was a very defining phase of my life.”
But zooming in today on her life and work in Esbjerg, the focus is clearly on family, whether at home or capturing important events and intimate moments for others. “I want people to feel at ease. People tell me that’s what attracts them to my photos, and it’s so nice for me to hear that because it’s so important to me.”
Check out Juli’s portfolio at JuliBehrendtBexkens.com, and look out for more of her work in future issues, when we’ll be featuring her portraits of more Esbjerg internationals.