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Natalie Fobes on Pursuing Creative Passion

Natalie Fobes - pipelineHow does our self concept, our identity, affect creative expression?

How do we find creative passions and how does pursuing them demand changes in our life?

One example of an artist who has addressed these questions is Natalie Fobes.

A bio on her site summarizes some of her personal journey and work:

“Not many photographers have faced winds of 90 knots and seas of 40 feet while on a fishing boat in the middle of the Bering Sea.

“Few can describe the bitter cold of a Siberian winter while camped out with Chukchi reindeer herders. Or say that their first client was National Geographic Magazine.

“Few others, if any, can claim to be a Pulitzer Prize finalist in a writing category. Natalie Fobes can.”

Fobes comments in this video about her change in creative direction, and some of the kinds of realizations and influences that may impact anyone pursuing a creative life:

“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…

“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 about halfway through that quarter that I was not going to be an architect, that I was going to be a photographer… a photojournalist. I remember the day that I went to my professor and told him… 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 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… it was just one of the best moments in my career – that encouragement from someone I respected to go ahead and pursue my dream.”

Video and quotes are from the section “Pursuing passion” from a course: “Creative Inspirations: Natalie Fobes, Photographer,” which includes her tutorials on:

Finding visual journalism // The salmon story
Getting the shot: Tulalip Fish Ceremony
National Geographic: Exxon Valdez cover story
Telling stories with images // Creating photo-books
Getting the shot: Portrait shoot
Giving back: Blue Earth Alliance – 
and more.

[You can find many other courses on technology, design, business and creative skills on]

Creative expression / Self expression

One aspect of pursuing creative passions is to be in touch with who we are.

Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman comments:

“Creative expression equals self-expression… So anything we can do to firm up our identity, figure out who we are, separate from others, and what it is we really want to express – that influences our information processing of everything in the world.”

Hear an audio clip of him talking about this in my article Identity and Being Creative.

Are you doing creative work that resonates with who you really are?


Natalie Fobes on Pursuing Creative Passion

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Natalie Fobes on Pursuing Creative Passion. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Jul 2014
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