Archive for August, 2012

North to Chama and Beyond

Just before school started this week, we headed up to Chama in northern New Mexico, to ride the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, which winds its way through some amazing scenery on its way to Antonito, Colorado.

It was a family trip, but I brought the camera and got some images that communicate something of the day.

Communicating Compassion with a new site for Veterinary Cancer Care

I’m very happy to announce the launch of the website I worked on for Veterinary Cancer Care (VCC) – a veterinary oncology practice based in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

The site is a great example of the sort of holistic approach I like to take to a client project – I worked on the web development, photography and multimedia work to bring it all together as a consistent whole.

Dr Jeannette Kelly of VCC is a devoted and caring vet, and  her practice has helped thousands of pets with cancer. Her website was out of date and didn’t really communicate the key message of the practice – that treating pets with cancer is completely different from treating humans with cancer.

The feel of the practice is warm and caring, and although it’s obviously a difficult time for clients, they were positive and grateful for the compassion and skill Dr Kellly and her staff showed to the pets under their care.

Since most visitors to the site would be coming after receiving bad news from their primary care vet, it was important to dispel their misconceptions and make them more comfortable considering VCC.

It seemed to me that explaining the treatment options and the qualifications of the staff, while necessary, wouldn’t be enough to counter the potential client’s idea that veterinary oncology was going to mean suffering for their pet in a cold and unwelcoming environment. We were dealing with powerful emotions here, so an appeal only to reason – however much it made sense – wouldn’t be enough. An approach that also worked to calm fears and make an emotional connection was also important.

Having spent time at the practice, I knew that the atmosphere there was warm and positive, and the animals loved and cared for. Dr Kelly herself encapsulated this feeling that was so different from what you might expect when you think about cancer treatment – she’s bright, energetic and funny. When talking to owners, she’s often to be found on the floor at pet level, bonding with the animals.

I decided to use documentary photography to capture the authentic experience of the practice, and then record an interview with Dr Kelly about how approach and how she got started with veterinary oncology. You’d want a vet who was emotionally committed to this difficult side of medicine, and Dr Kelly’s story shows she has this in spades.

The audio from the interview would be packaged with some of the still images and background noise of life at the practice, and we would use that on the About page.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Meanwhile, the Amy, Megan and Jan from VCC started gathering useful information and resources so the site would make a compelling emotional case but then back it up with practical information for new clients who need to learn a lot in a hurry.

VCC already had a good graphic identity and color palette that they used for print materials, so that was foundation of the web design. We also wanted the design to be calming, warm and welcoming – the feelings you get walking into the practice. So the use of serif fonts and subtle shading and textures creates a site that is clean and simple to use without being austere.

Looking to photograph authentic moments of what happens in the practice takes a lot longer than just staging some shots with clients, vets (and animals) all smiling at the camera. You have to be there, in the right place to make strong images out of what really happens. A little exchange between staff member and owner, or a pet suddenly licking Dr Kelly’s face are situations that you can’t set up, and if you miss the shot, it’s not coming again. But I feel that people can tell what’s real and what’s fake, and real images have so much more force.

There are more photos from the project here.

The combination of a clear approach, good design, photography, multimedia and useful resources presents an authentic and positive view of Veterinary Cancer Care. And personally, it was one of the more rewarding projects I’ve worked on recently, as I got to see the great work that goes on there, and help them communicate what they do.

And the folks at VCC are also happy. Dr Kelly says,

‘We are delighted with our new site because it captures the essence of our practice and the hope we get from our patients every day.

‘David immersed himself in Veterinary Cancer Care for several days in order to capture the sights, sounds and perceptions of the clinic, and the website mirrors the feeling of our space and our philosophy perfectly.

The website design and photographs emulate the light, bright, welcoming feeling our patients and their people get when they come to see us, and our focus on hope and care is clearly the foundation for the design.’

You can find them at http://www.vetcancercare.com

Redesigned site for the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

I’ve been working with the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market for five years now – designing, building and maintaining their website, writing blog posts and photographing artists and their great work.

Their site for the last three markets had worked well, but it was built on an older content management system and needed some freshening of the design and more functionality before this year’s Market in mid-July.

Stronger images, easier to update

I worked with the Market on a new design, aiming for a cleaner look and a wider main column for displaying larger photographs. The Market has a deep library of excellent images that show the real people around the world that are helped by the Market (I’ve taken some of these images – that’s one of mine used on the bottom-left of the homepage –  but there’s a talented pool of other photographers who also contribute images). Being able to display photographs in a wide main column gives them more impact, and also gives more flexibility in wrapping text around images, especially for blog posts.

Another aim was that the site be easier to update. While I’ve written nearly all the blog posts in some years, this time round most were written by Clare Hertel Communications – the PR firm that’s also worked with the Market for many years precio de viagra en farmacia. Making the blog section of the site full-featured but also easy to use was very important.

Going custom

Once the new design was approved, I planned the move to WordPress from the older CMS – a job that was more involved than for a more straightforward  site.

The Market sites includes a blog, a news section and a section containing hundreds of artists’ profiles categorized by the countries they’re from, and the years they’ve attended the Market. WordPress by default only supports two types of content – regular site pages and blog posts, so I devised an architecture based around using custom post types and custom taxonomies to cater for all the different types of content and classifications required.

This means that adding an artist lets you specify a country and years attended when you’re adding the content, and then displays the content in the right place on the site. I also implemented WordPress’ ‘featured image’ functionality to automatically generate thumbnails and associate them with blog posts, news releases and artists. So adding a new blog post for example, automatically places its title and thumbnail on the site’s homepage without any direct editing of the homepage.

Then we moved all the existing content to the new site, and then tested the new version prior to launch.

The WordPress framework for the site now makes it easier for the Market to updated the content themselves, and also allows us to use some of the wide range of plug-ins available to add extra functionality. This is seen in the front page slider which displays revolving selection of banners. It’s also search-engine friendly and easy to add updates and patches as the WordPress core is constantly updated.

The blog area now supports captions for images, embedding maps into posts, and auto-generated slideshows.

Good-looking and built to last

The result is a site that has a contemporary look, a solid custom-designed infrastructure and a framework that supports the range of content uses the Market needs.

The work was completed in time for the busy build-up to the Market, and the site made it much easier than in previous years to add this year’s new artists, blog posts, news releases and other content. It also held up well to the large amount of traffic it receives around the Market weekend – peaking this year at over 4000 visits and 15,000 page views a day.

As the Folk Art Market moves into its tenth year in 2013, their site is a key asset in good shape, and it’s ready to support new endeavours and requirements in the future. I’m proud to have been involved with such a great Santa Fe non-profit organization for the last few years, and look forward to continuing my work with them.