"This is perhaps the most beautifully human thing I have ever seen online." —juror Jason Ring
"A beautiful and touching portrait of a father/son relationship." —juror Amber Bezahler
Overview: In this photo-essay, photographer Phillip Toledano explores his relationship with his 98-year-old father. Unlike most sites there is no primary navigation and no links; its secrets are easily revealed and it rewards anyone who spends a little time with it. Created as a means of expressing experiences and emotions that he was feeling at the time, neither the purpose nor the audience were actually considered when Toledano embarked on this work. It was for him. He comments pointedly, "I had no idea if people would be interested. In fact, I thought quite the opposite."
• The team consisted of three people—photographer/writer, designer and programmer—and the site was completed in under a month.
• Days With My Father is a an AS3.0 Flash site and the content management system uses a Flash interface and ASP.NET.
• Mousing to the left reveals thumbnails and the preloading sequence in action; it's smart enough to interrupt the sequence for anyone who wants to skip ahead.
Comments by Robert Lewis:
How did this project compare with others you've worked on in the past? "Phil's images of his father almost knocked me out the first time I saw them, and when I read the story I knew we had to work on this project. "It actually arrived at a perfect time. After wrapping up one of our most complex Flash projects, we were eager to switch gears and start thinking about one that had the potential to be one of our simplest. Our first designs suggested antique papers and typefaces; however, they created an unintended bias to the story. We became extremely sensitive to the fact that it was Phil's story and that nothing should come between his story and the audience. One-by-one we removed textures, colors, page numbers, rollovers, icons—and eventually even the site navigation, which felt like a speed bump on the page.
"At that point, our main challenge became how to create an intuitive experience. The answer eventually came with a bit of luck and experimentation.
"The response to it was immediate—and almost overwhelming. At first we were caught off-guard and not sure what to think about so many e-mails saying that this site made them cry. But before long we realized that Phil had tapped into a universal theme of caring for the people you love, and that people wanted to have a dialogue. We added a comment system a few days after launch that has recorded the stories of over 4,000 visitors from across the globe. It is extremely rewarding to hear that the site has inspired others to want to form closer relationships with their own parents."