November 21, 2006

Photojournalism student wins national scholarship

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The portfolio of a photojournalism student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale garnered him a major national scholarship while attending a workshop in New York.

Max Bittle, a junior from Carterville, won the $10,000 Nikon Spirit Initiative's Eddie Adams Scholarship. Bittle received the honor at the end of the 19th annual Eddie Adams Workshop, a four-day gathering of top professional news photographers and about 100 carefully selected students. The workshop provides those attending the opportunity to share ideas, techniques and philosophies and includes shooting and editing exercises, as well as speeches and panel discussions about the craft.

Bittle, the son of Randy and Lynne Bittle (12762 Greenbriar Road), previously captured Student Photographer of the Year honors from the National Press Association. He said the conference was an inspiring experience.

"We were working with the top professionals in the business. There were five Pulitzer Prize- winners there, real legends," Bittle said. "It was a really emotional experience and gives you a lot to strive for."

Bittle, 22, previously worked for the The Courier in Carterville, the Daily Egyptian at SIUC and as an intern for the St. Petersburg Times. He has freelanced for Illinois Issues, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. He said he likely will seek employment as a photojournalist at a newspaper after graduation and eventually would like to freelance full-time to pursue in-depth, long-term stories.

"The main goal is to take good pictures, tell people stories and meet people," Bittle said. "That's the real joy of the job for me."

James D. Kelly, associate professor in the School of Journalism in SIUC's College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, said Bittle is an excellent photographer and fine journalist.

"His recent successes are national recognition of Max's talent and dedication," Kelly said. "I also think his accomplishments reflect uniquely on our photojournalism program."

Kelly said Bittle and other students benefited from the many professional photojournalists brought to campus to work with them over the years. The visitors include top names from "National Geographic" and the Newspaper Photographer of the Year among others, all of whom spend time talking with students and offering portfolio critiques during their visits.

"I remember Max coming into my office the day after he saw 'National Geographic' staffer Sam Abell speak. He was so excited. He went on and on about how inspirational Sam had been and how great it was that he had come to visit," Kelly said. "Later in his stay, Sam told me how impressed he was with our students, Max included. He said the students in our program had better portfolios than he himself had when he was in college."

Kelly said Bittle is the fourth SIUC photojournalism student to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop. He credited it with infusing excitement and inspiration into students, which rubs off on the entire journalism program.

"The award is great for Max and Max is great for our program," he said.

Enhancing nationally recognized programs whose graduates are in demand in the job market is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.