September 10, 2010

Graduate student captures photojournalism honor

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A graduate student in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts is receiving international recognition for her work on a documentary photography project.

Julia M. Rendleman is one of four photojournalism students in the United States to earn an award from Getty Images Inc. for editorial photography. Rendleman, who is from Makanda, is working on a project that focuses on female inmates at the Illinois Department of Corrections’ Impact Incarceration Program at Dixon Springs.

Getty Images announced awards to five professional and four student photographers earlier this month.

Rendleman will graduate with a master’s degree in December. She is in the Professional Media and Media Management Studies program specializing in photojournalism.

Dean Gary P. Kolb said receiving a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography “is a prestigious international recognition.”

“This award is not only a testament to her talent but also to the level of instruction students in our photojournalism program receive,” Kolb said. “We have a committed faculty and the finest photojournalism program in the state of Illinois here in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.”

Rendleman said she was shocked to receive the award.

“This is a great honor and prestigious award but it’s something that a lot of students at this college can accomplish if they try to attain it,” she said. “It’s within their reach. A lot of students here have the skills to get this award. I want to encourage everyone to try.”

A Carbondale native, Rendleman earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Loyola University in New Orleans. Her projects while at SIUC include a multimedia project on the Shawnee Forest and last fall’s “A Weekend in Murphysboro.”

“Julia Rendleman is one of the most talented young photojournalists in the country,” said William H. Freivogel, director of the SIUC School of Journalism. “Her photos of women in custody and her commitment to tell their story are extraordinary. This important award is a testament to her skills as well as to the teaching skills of the photojournalists on the faculty of the School of Journalism.”

After receiving permission from state prison officials, Rendleman began the project earlier this year focusing on five women enrolled in the 120-day military style boot camp program. Two of the five women did not complete the program and returned to state prison to finish their remaining sentences. The other three women did graduate in July, Rendleman said.

Dixon Springs is the only impact incarceration program facility in Illinois that accepts women. Rendleman said her interest is the aspect of viewing redemption, rehabilitation and the women receiving a second chance. One of the female inmates had her son while in prison; the boy was eight months old when she graduated from the boot camp, Rendleman said. She plans to meet with the women to continue profiling their journey. Rendleman is also working to obtain permission from state prison officials to photograph the two inmates who failed the boot camp program.

While for a photojournalist “it is hard for a project to ever be done,” Rendleman said she has nine months to complete it for Getty.

Established in 2004, the grants “enable emerging and established photojournalists to pursue projects of personal and editorial merit,” according to a news release from Getty Images, Inc. Grant awards have totaled more than $600,000 since 2004.