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(Music playing.) Natalie Fobes: I never, ever, ever thought that I was going to be a photographer when I was a kid. That was not what I wanted to be. The reason I didn't want to be a photographer was because my father was an amateur photographer. I can't tell you how many vacations we spent traveling across the country on dusty dirty roads, back roads, where he would stop the car, we would all be sitting in the hot car, he'd jump out, he'd run out, he'd take out his light meter, he'd set up his little tripod. He'd take pictures of wild flowers, not just one - two, or three or four.
So when I finally got to a point where I decided what I wanted to be, I knew that I was good at art, and I knew I was very good at science and math. And so I thought, "Hey, I'll be an architect." That's cool! I can be artistic and be an engineer at the same time. So that's what I went to school in at Iowa State University, with a major of architectural engineering. So that lasted for about two years, where I was just madly in love with architecture, and then I got into Strength of Materials, an engineering course, and realized that gee, maybe I wasn't as good as I thought I was at this science and math kind of stuff. I stayed with it, but took a photo course, just because I had three extra credits that I had to fill, and I fell in love with it.
I knew from the - about halfway through that quarter that I was not going to be an architect, that I was going to be a photographer. And not only was I going to be a photographer, but I was going to be a people photographer. I was going to be a photojournalist. I remember the day that I went to my professor and told him that I wanted to be a photojournalist. I had to have a beer to get my courage up, because I was so convinced that he would laugh at me.
And to my surprise, and to my gratitude to this day, he said, "Well, it's about time you decided to do that. You are going to be great." I have no idea of what he saw in my photographs. I could show you some of my prints from my original portfolio, and I am looking at them thinking, "There would be no way that I would encourage this person." I mean, I did a Kodalith treatment of some of the architecture at Iowa State University. It was very modern at that point. It was all concrete buildings. And I did this one photograph of a woman that I had met raking her leaves. Her eyes are closed because I had her look up at the sun, and not everybody can look at the sun without closing their eyes.
I don't know what he saw, but he must have seen a passion that I had for telling the stories of people, a passion for going out and exploring the world with my camera. And at that moment, I just, ah -- it was just one of the best moments in my career was that encouragement from someone I respected to go ahead and pursue my dream.
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