Forest for the Trees
MEDIA: WEB + DESIGN + PHOTOGRAPHY + VIDEO + ILLUSTRATION + WRITTEN WORD
CLIENT: PERSONAL PROJECT
“Forest for the Trees” began as a photo documentary that I built during my senior year in journalism school, and then became an interactive web documentary for my MFA thesis. The project explores our relationship with forest resource management and the challenges the future presents. There are five sections to the full project: the first is a brief look at the history of land management organizations and practices, the second is an experiential look at “The Education of a Woodsman” (or woman), the third explores the many stakeholders that are involved in forest resource management, the fourth deals with economics, and the fifth looks to the future.
The initial photo documentary was a senior year “capstone” project - we were required to create body of work that contained at least 40 images, and then those images had to be paired with extended captions and body copy and designed into a book.
Even after completing the initial assignment and graduating, I always felt like the project could be expanded - a feeling that only grew as I began learning more multimedia skills. Once I entered grad school and had to start thinking about a thesis project, there really were no other options. I had to revisit “Forest for the Trees” and explore the new opportunities for storytelling on an interactive, web-based platform.
I spent the first semester of my thesis year sketching out what the fully-realized, interactive and multimedia “Forest for the Trees” experience would look like. My thesis advisors then helped me pare down that vision into something a bit more achievable within my graduation timeframe, with the knowledge that this is probably a topic and a project that will require several years to complete.
There were two key features I focused on as part of my thesis work: a fully illustrated and animated title sequence, and a parallax web framework within which to house the project. The title sequence is embedded above, with a few stills from the film included below.
Top row: Stills images from the title sequence I illustrated and animated.
Bottom row: Screengrabs from the Forest for the Trees website.
I am extremely pleased with how the panels of the parallax website turned out, but unfortunately the script that I chose back in 2013 is no longer supported by most mobile browsers and I am in the process of completely rebuilding that functionality of the website.
Another feature of the website I would like to point out is one of the interactive maps that I developed to illustrate land management data in the state of Montana. A screengrab of the map is included below, or the map itself can be accessed online.
Screengrab from the land composition interactive data visualization.
Of the five sections, the second one presenting an experiential glimpse of “The Early Education and Adventures of a Woodsman” featured the most robust portfolio of photography. A selection of the images from that section is included below.