Below are photographs I captured while exploring the Depression-era engineering marvel at the Nevada and Arizona border on the Colorado River this past November.

© Copyright CLO


My recent journey down memory lane reminded me why being distinctive and consistent is essential when crafting creative communications that resonate with target audiences.

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, New Mexico, the largest town on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that’s an hour’s drive from Santa Fe. My hometown is a pretty eclectic place for its small size of 14,000 residents. It has two primary town centers with coinciding rival school districts. West Las Vegas includes the Old Town Plaza (as featured in such movies as Easy Rider and No Country for Old Men), while east Las Vegas was a major stop along the Victorian-era cross-continental railroad (as featured in the original Red Dawn film). It’s home to a university, community college and international high school, and it has over 900 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

(Top) The Montezuma Castle, a former railroad-era luxury hotel that is now the centerpiece of the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (UWC-USA). (Bottom) The church in Uppertown and the painted landmark on the road to Montezuma    © CLO

My family moved away the day before I started the sixth grade, so it often shocks me at how strongly my memory responds whenever I make a special trip back. As soon as I arrive, I feel compelled to drive around and soak in the memories, from repeating my bus route to school to passing by the many places I played as a child. It’s always deeply emotional for me as I absorb the recall of my youth.

During this latest visit, it dawned on me as I was walking and driving around that my hometown is unique because virtually every single building within it is unique. The vast variety of architectural styles is dramatic. Even buildings with similar styles have strikingly different colors, details and landscaping. As a result, I would look at each individual structure and recollect memories completely specific to that one place.

The less a place changed, the more I remembered. The more distinctive the location, the more vivid the memory. The more intense the memory, the more emotionally connected I felt with the place. 

This powerful experience reminded me of key components to creating magnetic communications, from the visual and verbal to the physical and experiential.

The more distinctive the presentation and the more consistent the quality, the stronger the impact and residual emotional imprint on an audience.

Integrated visual storytelling triggers a combined emotional and intellectual response that educates and engages the viewer. Introductory text focuses the message which is enhanced through analytical comparisons, big-picture understanding and an emotional connection to the individual experience.

Below are key elements of an interactive I created for the Associated Press on the many natural disasters in 2010. For this project, I combed through the AP’s extensive photo archive to carefully pick images that captured the events and visually worked together to broaden the story. I also researched, analyzed and charted the data, wrote the text, designed all elements and coded the interactive. It was published Dec. 20, 2010.

INTRODUCTION – conceptual connections

Photo collage of the disasters in Hungary, Chile, China and Haiti

Natural disasters killed more than a quarter million people in 2010, the deadliest year in more than a generation. Experts say that even though many disasters have the ring of random chance, man had an awful lot to do with it being such a tumultuous year, from global warming to poor construction and development practices. This sample of disasters, which includes man-made technological catastrophes, shows how bad human decision making can wreak havoc on the planet and destroy lives.

GRAPHICS – intellectual understanding

(static screenshots – launch flash interactive for complete data comparison and sources)

PHOTOGRAPHY – emotional engagement

(disasters listed alphabetically – all photos from apimages.comlaunch flash interactive for credits)


Chile 8.8 earthquake:
China 6.9 earthquake:
Gulf of Mexico oil spill:
Haiti 7.0 earthquake:
Hungary toxic sludge spill:
Iceland volcano:
Indonesia 7.7 earthquake, tsunami, volcano:
New Zealand 7.0 earthquake:
Pakistan floods:
Russia heat wave, fires:
Tennessee floods: