Interview with Mary Pratt of Mission Photo Production


Photo by ©Ruben Wyttenbach

Mary Pratt has been working with Production Paradise for almost 8 years, and thus is one of our most loyal and treasured customers. We had a chat with Mary to get some insight into her experience of the production industry and to get to know her a little better. This is how it went:

When did you start your business, how long have you been in the industry?

I have been in the business for 17 years. I founded Mission Photo Production in 2000. Prior to that, I was a partner at another production company for about six years.

How did you start doing what you do, what inspired you?

I have a background in advertising, and have always loved photography. I was so captivated by New York on my first visit to the city that I quit my job as a studio manager for one of Zurich’s eminent commercial photographers and moved to The Big Apple. Was this a capricious thing to do? Absolutely! But I was tremendously energized by the city–everything seemed possible and nothing felt too daunting. I was hoping to find a job as a studio manager again. I had an interview at Irving Penn’s studio (I didn’t get the job once they realized how young and relatively inexperienced I was). A photographer suggested I try my luck with production, and I quickly realized that it really suited me.

What part of your work do you enjoy the most?

My training and experience as a junior account manager in advertising wasn’t a waste, after all. With production, I find I can combine a number of skills and passions: business and organizational skills go hand in hand with creativity. I have travelled extensively, I speak several languages, and I have a broad knowledge of architecture, art, fashion and design. All this comes in handy when I talk to photographers, agencies and clients.

It may sound like a cliché, but in production, every job is different. It never gets boring. I like the challenge of anticipating situations, and being ready for them. I find it hugely satisfying when the team I’ve assembled for a job works well together. I enjoy interpreting creative concepts, and I also never tire of seeing all the loose puzzle piece come together and form one beautiful, coherent image.

hiPhoto by ©Janine Graubaum

What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you professionally, or who were you most excited to work with?

I have been privileged to work with photographers coming from a commercial background as well as fine art photographers, and I enjoy witnessing and participating in the different approaches.

What resources do you use to promote your work?

Self-promotion has changed in recent years. I used to send out printed matter, but in the digital age I mostly rely on being listed on various production-related sites. I also do occasional email blasts, but I deliberately don’t do those too frequently. Here, I find less tends to be more.

What have you found most useful about being a Production Paradise member?

I have been a member of Production Paradise since 2004 and I find it a reliable resource when I am searching for contacts outside of my network. Production Paradise attracts professionals who take pride in their work – and that is something I care about deeply.

Have you made any interesting connections through Production Paradise?

Indeed. And it cuts both ways: several clients have come me via the site, and on a recent search for local production support in Rio de Janeiro, I found an excellent co-producer in Derek Sundance from Capture Brazil, thanks to Production Paradise. The images featured here are from a day at the beach for BASF with Michael Schnabel.

Any interesting anecdotes that happened to you recently?

There are so many–having a crane lift a two ton Mercedes over a 25 meter wall to a Gehry building, for example. Or aerially scouting ice breakers in the Baltic Sea… I won’t stop once I get going! Recently, while preparing a talk for the photography department at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI), I realized that I have been in some pretty unique situations. But what keeps this job interesting is the meaningful connections I make with people. Some may be fleeting, and others turn into lifelong friendships. It’s all about human interactions.

What do you think is the future of this industry?

Increasingly, there is blurring of the lines between still and moving imagery–both because of new media types such as the iPad, and also because of the comparative ease with which one can capture both. We are experiencing the beginning of a significant evolution within the industry. It’s important for producers to be cognizant of technological advances, in order to anticipate their clients’ shifting needs. This is expected of us, and if we prove that we are capable of doing so, we are rewarded with loyal and happy clients.

BASF Ad ©Michael Schnabel

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