Days With My Father

Sometimes a simple design is the best way to tell a story. Days With My Father is Phillip Toledano’s heartfelt record of his relationship with his aging father. Toledano’s father “doesn’t have alzheimers, but he has no short-term memory, and is often lost.” Days With My Father is a record of their relationship “for whatever days we have left together.” It begins with the death of Toledano’s mother and ends with the death of his father three years later.

How It Works

Days With My Father has more in common with a photo slideshow than anything else. It is a series of 40 photographs, some with a few paragraphs of related text, some that stand alone. These reveal small details of their relationship. Built using Flash, the site slides from one photograph to the next, the text appearing in a sidebar a second after the photo slides into place. The design is simple – grey text on a white background with most of the screen given over to the picture. A menu that slides onto the screen from the left allows the user to click on any of the 40 photos.

What Works, What Doesn’t

The multimedia use in Days With My Father is limited – there are just images and text. I include it here because of the design. The navigation between slides is simple and intuitive. The sparse design is perfect for the subject matter. It moves through the three years linearly while drawing on past relationships that came before.

By fading in the text after the image, the emphasis is kept on the photographs, with the text for support. The paragraphs are kept short so that the text doesn’t take over. The prose is similarly sparse – “I find these scraps of writing all over the house. They are a glimpse into his mind, the disquet he tries to hide from me. Where is everyone? What’s going on? How lost he feels,” or “Sometimes, when we’re talking, my dad will stop, and sigh, and close his eyes. It’s then that I know, that he knows. About my mum. About everything.” Further details are left to the reader to imagine.

In this way, the two forms of media are kept in perfect balance while the emotional impact is that much more powerful.

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