Digital Guide Imparts a Sense of Place

“It’s a passion project. I wanted to create a digital platform as beautiful as the East End.”
Ted Delano’s Imagery Hamptons app, which aims for a higher aesthetic than the average digital guide, has generated 3,000 downloads since he launched it last year. Debra Scott

    Ted Delano, who calls himself a “digital cartographer,” has founded an online guide to the Hamptons — both as a Web site and an app — that he claims, surprisingly, has not been done anywhere else. According to his research, no one has yet created a “magazine quality” visual forum in cyberspace to showcase local businesses that “maps an entire community and is hand-curated.”

    “I’m working on an aesthetic level that’s stronger than what I’ve seen elsewhere,” he said of Imagery Hamptons. “It’s a passion project. I wanted to create a digital platform as beautiful as the East End.” And so he has.

    Having launched in 2012, the digital guide features more than 100 businesses in categories including food, services, shops, nature, and culture. Think: 18 Bay, a Shelter Island restaurant; Lynn’s Hula Hut, a tiki bar in Montauk; Neoteric, a gallery in Amagansett; Khanh Sports, a surf shop in East Hampton; Christy’s, an art and antiques store in Sag Harbor, and Collette, a designer consignment shop in Southampton, all of whom pay him a few hundred dollars a year. He also features such cultural icons as the Parrish Art Museum, the Watermill Center, and LongHouse Reserve, at no charge. 

    Some clients, including John Salibello, a Bridgehampton antiques store, and Marie Eiffel, a fashion boutique in Sag Harbor, have also opted for videos featuring their businesses.

    “The guide is obviously great for people who are not familiar with the region,” said Mr. Delano. But, for people who live here year round and frequent the same 10 or 15 places, it’s a great way to branch out. “The most common line from viewers is ‘The photos make me want to go there.’ ”

    Janet O’Brien, a caterer, was one of the first prospects he approached to appear in the guide. “I was very impressed,” said Ms. O’Brien. “The visuals were well portrayed, I could see that he had the right eye.” So, not only did she let him feature her business in the guide, but she also asked him to design her Web site, “Something I’d been wanting to do for 10 years.”

    A huge component of what makes the guide so appealing are the images by Jason Penney, a professional photographer with a house on Shelter Island who numbers among his clients Pottery Barn, Target, Martha Stewart, and Ricky Martin. Mr. Delano said he is thrilled to work with “a photographer with 20-odd years of experience. . . . Jason can walk into a restaurant or store and see exactly the shots we need and know exactly how to make them look good.”

    To shoot the photos for Ms. O’Brien’s site, the trio set up a studio in Mr. Delano’s house in Bridgehampton where, with the help of two of Ms. O’Brien’s assistants, they cooked and styled food, then shot it.

     After creating that site, Mr. Delano morphed his company into a full-fledged digital marketing agency, with a business partner, Kevin Hageman, doing Web site development, social media marketing, and local search optimization for such clients as Amagansett Square, the Stephen Talkhouse, and Max Eicke, a Bridgehampton furniture designer.

    “By offering digital marketing services, we are able to create consistent brand voices across the entire digital ecosystem: local, social, and mobile,” said Mr. Hageman.

    Ms. O’Brien’s site now comes up in a Google search on page 2. “Before that she didn’t exist,” said Mr. Delano, who searched as far as page 35 before giving up.

    Mr. Delano “is very sophisticated,” said Ms. O’Brien. “He’s traveled so much, which adds to his sensibility.”

    After graduating from the Ross School, Mr. Delano attended St. Louis University in Madrid, where he studied international communications. He then moved to Chile for two years before returning to Madrid, where he worked on a network of art-world Web sites, the two largest being VideoArtWorld.com and ImageryDimension.com, from which Imagery Hamptons found its roots.

    The Imagery Hamptons app has so far generated 3,000 downloads, “a big number,” he said, considering that he has held back on major promotion until he had a fuller guide. The reason he says the number is so high is that “we are the first to come up in the app store if you look up ‘Hamptons.’ ”

    He will launch a full marketing campaign next summer, with help from his “media collaborators” such as Neoteric and Guild Hall, who have promised to help promote the guide to their members in “varying degrees.” LongHouse Reserve, for one, “will be pushing it out to all their subscribers.” And, thanks to his affiliation with the art-world sites, he has access to 120,000 of their subscribers.

    While in the future he envisions “the possibility” that he can take the concept to other locales, for now he’s content to focus on his Hamptons prototype and “keep making it better and better.”