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Finding visual journalism

From: Creative Inspirations: Natalie Fobes, Photographer

Video: Finding visual journalism

(Music playing.) Natalie Fobes: After I decided to become a photojournalist, I quit school, and I worked at my family's deli and I worked as a waitress at night to get money for my cameras and also for the tuition. But during that time, I also started hanging out at the Des Moines Register, the biggest newspaper in Iowa - in fact, the newspaper all Iowa depends on. And it was a fantastic experience.

Finding visual journalism

(Music playing.) Natalie Fobes: After I decided to become a photojournalist, I quit school, and I worked at my family's deli and I worked as a waitress at night to get money for my cameras and also for the tuition. But during that time, I also started hanging out at the Des Moines Register, the biggest newspaper in Iowa - in fact, the newspaper all Iowa depends on. And it was a fantastic experience.

There were people there who, photographers who took me under their wings and let me go with them on assignment, so I could practice with the professionals. There is a man there named Tom DeFeo. All of these people, I mean, they are just legends in my world. And I was able to actually go out and photograph with them. The great thing was that a few years later, when I was looking for an internship while I was at Ohio University, I was able to work at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where Tom DeFeo had just been appointed as Director of Photography.

And so it was kind of a neat experience to come back. And I already knew him, he already knew my work, and just had the best internship for three months where I was bopping around southwest Ohio, taking these pictures of motorcycle gangs and things like that, that I had never experienced in Iowa. I kind of discovered my love of telling these long stories, these multiple photograph stories while I was in Cincinnati.

I would go out on my own, on my hours before or after work, or on my weekends, and start shooting the stories. At some point then, if the newspaper felt that it was a story that they wanted to publish, they would assign a writer to them. And then the writer and I would work closely together after that. Other times the newspaper would assign both of us at the same time, and we would go out and do the stories that way. We found stories by going to the cafes.

We found stories by listening in on conversations in the bars, and would just look around until we found some sort of cool story to tell. The great thing about the newspapers that I worked for - I worked for two, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Seattle Times - both newspapers had a healthy respect for photographers as journalists. And so that meant that we were treated pretty much equally with the writers in a lot of ways.

If we had a story idea, we would pitch it. And if the news team thought it was a good story, they'd accept it, and they'd assign us and another writer to go out and do the story. It didn't happen all the time. I mean, photographers still were there to shoot the assignments that the writers - you know, for the stories that the writers had come up with, or the editors had come up with. I, at Cincinnati, in Cincinnati I would photograph five assignments a day. You know, when I moved out to Seattle Times, it went down to about two or three a day.

But when I tell my students that, you know, try shooting five assignments a day in eight hours, and spend two hours of those eight hours in the lab processing, they kind of get an idea what it was like.

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Creative Inspirations: Natalie Fobes, Photographer

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Natalie Fobes
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