Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pregnancy Aid Center Article

Here's an article about the practicum work I did with the Pregnancy Aid Center


CDIA Practicum Gives Students Real-World Experience Sep 30
Written by: education 9/30/2009 3:55 AM
At CDIA, they believe it is essential to provide students with hands-on experience with real-world clients. They also believe that it is important to make a positive impact in the community. These ideologies come together to create our Practicum program philosophy and here's one example:

The Pregnancy Aid Center (PAC), is not new to the non-profit world. Established in 1974, PAC provides pre- and post- natal care for low-income mothers. Their website was created by an intern over 10 years ago, and remained static with basic information about services offered. Mary Jelacic, executive director of PAC, talks about the effect of an underdeveloped site. “Grantors who looked at our website were less likely to consider us…unless they actually took time to do a site visit. Prospective patients did not get their FAQs answered unless they called the Center”. Ms. Jelacic’s observations are supported by a 2009 report from the Philanthropy News Digest, which noted “highly satisfied nonprofit website visitors are 49% more likely to donate money…[and] 38% more likely to volunteer”, while 30% “chose not to give online because of poor website functionality.”
PAC partnered with CDIA for a Practicum web redesign and photo project. The first client meeting involved the web team, photographer and Mary, and from this meeting, a plan developed to create photos and a site that was warm and welcoming for PAC constituents. Mary handed creative direction to the CDIA team, and took her role as “a great partner: astute, focused, responsive, caring and compassionate.” The site had few requirements for the redesign: accessible to a low-literacy group; translated in both Spanish and English; extendable to additional languages.
Pol Klein ( of the web team notes, “The challenge of an open-ended requirement is latching on to a direction. When you can go in any direction, which way do you face?” The direction was one that steered away from text-heavy content, and used visuals to increase the ease of navigation and comprehension. Pol offers an insight about the redesign process: “We chose a package of technologies and approaches that would play well on older computers. With this direction in mind, we established three visual designs; one with a photo collage navigation on the home page and two with photo series on the home page. The Pregnancy Aid Center chose the photo collage navigation design and we got on to building. To ensure that additional languages could be added and that team members could work on the site at the same time (given the relatively short schedule), we chose to build the site with XHTML, CSS, and server side included templates and a folder structure that clearly separated language specific content for language additions. A key part of building the site was user and browser testing. CDIA organized user interface testing with volunteers the whole class could observe over a video link. It was rather effective as users identified aspects of the design that worked well and that didn’t for them; not always in ways we expected. With user feedback and browser test results in, we made modifications, finalized the content of the site and published a beta version for the Pregnancy Aid Center to review. Finally with their feedback, we made final modifications, special pages for errors, and plugged in video content all for a final delivery.”
Katharine Hauschka ( worked as photographer on the project; an important role in a redesign the depended on visuals. Following the initial meeting, Katharine set up shop at the clinic, working to capture a welcoming environment, images that would work both as stand-alones and as part of the website. Some of her biggest challenges came in the nature of the clinic—not only was she documenting clinical experiences (private in nature), but also was navigating model releases with clients who often did not speak English. However, with the support of the clinic and Mary, she was able to successfully document PAC, and provide the web team with the appropriate images. Additionally, Katharine utilized CDIA video and sound equipment to create a multimedia piece also featured on the site.
The results are easily measured - soon after the site launch,, PAC was awarded a $300,000 grant for their programs. Says Mary, “The new site serves as an education tool for consumers, donors and volunteers. After reading the information on the website clients know what services they qualify for as well as which documents are needed to enroll in Medicaid and WIC, etc. Volunteers learn about opportunities to help others at PAC. Donors learn about services that they are supporting. Everyone who has looked at the site has been amazed at the wealth of information it provides and the beautiful photos and informative video. Teens love the interactive features and the bold colors. Funders have made positive comments about our new website.”
For CDIA students, the experience also had a tremendous effect. In addition to the stunning portfolio piece, Katharine comments about the intrinsic value of Practicum: “It was absolutely inspiring working with Mary and the staff members at the PAC as each of them wakes up every day and goes to work to help these people in need who wouldn't have a place to go for help without the PAC. To be able to go and photograph these people at work and to help them in their cause was an inspiration! I'd happily help them out again with anything in the future.”
For more information about CDIA’s Practicum Program, visit and contact Kate McNamee,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tracy Raver on Sleeping Babies- the Today Show

Sleeping Babies: Tracy Raver Photography on


By Amanda Pendolino on September 11, 2009

I’ve never been one of those girls who gets and silly and weird about babies (I find kids ages 2-7 to be much more entertaining), but I have to admit that these photos are adorable. Nebraska photographer Tracy Raver appeared on the TODAY show this morning to talk about her work, which consists of sleeping newborns (usually just around 2 weeks old).

Tracy says the babies are “naturally very sleepy,” making them pretty easy to work with as subjects. “What we try to work towards is natural curly positions like they would be in the womb,” she said. “They will bend very easily, and when they’re sound asleep you can do just about anything to them.”

Still, she says the environment in the studio is very important for the babies’ comfort. “The babies have to be very very warm, so we crank it up to about 85 degrees,” she said. “And we ask the moms that they have their bellies nice and full before they leave so that the drive to the studio gets them nice and sleepy in the car.”

Tracy uses props like hats and slings, though she says she likes to do something different with each kid and doesn’t really plan it ahead of time. “We kind of just read the baby,” she said. “Little girls tend to be a little bit feistier, so we have to work a little bit harder with them.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

M & D Get Married!

Well it was not the most beautiful of days, but the weather held out for a cool but lovely outdoor ceremony overlooking the Chesapeak bay. As the guests made their way over to the reception site, the sun broke through the grey sheet of clouds for a little more light for the group photographs. Despite the clouds, M & D had a wonderful time and kicked off the dancing with an awesome routine to Björk's "It's oh so Quiet" (in honor of their honeymoon to Iceland) which may have been the best first dance routine I've seen this summer...maybe ever! Needless to say, it was a great wedding! Enjoy the sneak peeks!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

E & I Wedding

Words can not describe the awesome energy that existed at this wedding! From the Bride to the Groom and everyone and everything in between the day was phenomenal! The weather was perfectly warm with a slight breeze and the light, majestic! The venue, the WVSA Arts Connection, was an authentic and unique place with an absolutely awesome sheltered rooftop room that proved the perfect place to dance the night away after a lovely ceremony. Between all the getting ready and the party, I had a chance to take the bus with the fabulously enormous wedding party (16 brides maids and 16 groomsmen) over to the Jefferson memorial where we took a few photos- before needing to leave due to lack of a permit (woops!- that'll never happen again!) We still got some fun and great shots and had a blast! We got held up by the Kennedy processional on the way home and had to go around the city to get back to the venue but we made it in time for the Bride and Groom to have a bite to eat before speeches, the cupcake cutting and the first dance. The wedding wound down with some fabulous dancing and singing to boot! It was an honor to have the chance to photograph these folks! So I hope you enjoy the photos!