MURPHYSBORO - As the "Weekend in Murphysboro" photojournalism workshop came to a close Sunday, Southern Illinois University Carbondale students reflected on their weekend experiences and the opportunities they had to work together on a project and have professional feedback on their pictures. "Its something you don't get in the classroom," said Joe Rehana, a senior photojournalism student. "I think it's really helped me quite a bit, and it really got me excited about shooting this weekend." About 30 students
spent the entire weekend photographing life in Murphysboro, a type of workshop that is common in the world of photojournalism education, but the first of its kind in Southern Illinois. Students worked sunrise to sunset, shooting stories throughout the community and receiving feedback from guest professionals from all over the country. Organizers said the workshop was a huge success in that it brought the students together as a group and helped them build their talents individually. "What I saw this weekend was a group of students who came in as individuals, but formed a bond and became a photo community," said Phil Greer, photojournalist-in-residence at the university. "They worked together, they were able to bounce their ideas off of each other and they got to watch the editing process with a different set of eyes." All of the photographs the students took in Murphysboro will be given to the city to be used for promotional purposes and there have been talks of making a coffee-table book out of the pictures as well. Greer said the city has received the project with open arms and that has really helped the students build necessary skills. "They certainly opened up the town and their hearts and homes to us," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better situation than what we had here." The students, he said, were able to better develop the people skills needed to be good photojournalists than when they take photographs on campus, being in a new environment and being more interested in their subjects. Having the chance to work as a group, they learned a lot about each other's style. "You realize that each person has a different way of viewing this town," said Ashley Andersen, a senior photojournalism student. "What is interesting to them isn't always interesting to everyone else. It was amazing how it all came together." The experience was sweetened for students by the participation of Canon and Apple, two of the biggest names in photography and computer equipment, who lent a large amount of gear to the students for the weekend's use. Representatives from Canon were on-site throughout the weekend to loan out top-of-the-line cameras and lenses to students in need. "Canon likes to utilize these opportunities to support education because we realize that students are our future," said Brian Matsumoto, professional marketing representative for Canon's camera division and 1981 SIUC alum. With Matsumoto's help, SIUC's Journalism and Cinema and Photography departments have received generous donations in recent years. Last month, for example, Canon donated an entire palette of brand-new camera equipment to the university's School of Journalism, greatly increasing the school's equipment inventory for student use. While the workshop won't always take place in Murphysboro, the school plans on holding a similar weekend-long event every year from now on, adding to the photojournalism program's other in-the-field learning experiences, like the Cairo Project and the Shawnee Project. "The little towns really don't get the exposure that they should," said Greer. "This is the way that we can help with showing people what quality of life is like here in Southern Illinois and also show the problems of the area."
This article originally appeared in The Southern Illinoisian