New York-based Mission Photo Production has been working for years with global brands, leading agencies, and celebrated photographers and directors. They offer production services for stills and motion and always bring the heat with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Founded in 2000 by Mary Pratt, they have now produced successful shoots in over 30 countries on six continents that we all just can dream about traveling nowadays!
We’ve asked Mary all about the foundations of Mission, how things have changed over the years and what it’s like with Production Paradise for over 15 years in the interview below. Check it out!
Production Paradise: How did the idea of Mission Photo Production come to you and who was your inspiration?
Mary: I’ve always been inspired by strong and independent women. But I think I have the entrepreneurial spirit from my father. He followed his passion and became a renowned independent horologer, instilling in me the belief that nothing is impossible.
Production Paradise: This amazing journey began in 2000, tell us more about how have things changed in the last 20 years?
Mary: Well, it’s funny, actually: you shared with me the link to one of our early postings on Production Paradise, and one of the snapshots from a shoot we produced in Tokyo was captioned “Digital Photography: Instant Gratification”. That made me laugh out loud – we’ve obviously come a long way! Shooting digitally – and now live streaming shoots remotely for clients – is the new normal. And on the other side, there’s a newfound appreciation for shooting film. A lot of super talented young photographers are doing great work shooting analog. Then, of course, there’s also the merging of stills and motion. Motion is now so much part of our world that we almost do a double-take if the project doesn’t have a motion component. Flexibility, agility, and having the finger on the pulse are more crucial than ever for staying relevant.
Production Paradise: We know that you are pretty good with languages, indeed we can say that the international perspective is embedded in Mission Photo Production’s culture, but what are the challenges you have to go through when you work outside the US, in Asia for instance?
Mary: Thank you. Indeed, I’m very lucky to have been raised a polyglot in Switzerland. But it’s more than just the languages, it’s the cultural fluidity. We’ve produced a number of shoots in Asia, and having strong local production partners and excellent communication is key. Languages can always be translated – it’s the cultural differences that sometimes can be challenging, or lead to misunderstandings. This is why it helps if the local production partners are multicultural, or at least have a good understanding of how things are done in other countries. We are fortunate to have excellent production liaisons pretty much all over the globe.
Production Paradise: It is apparent that your shoots are unique and particular, how do you conceptualize your projects and find the location to fit your vision?
Mary: Location scouting is key – and prior to actually scouting, it’s very important to have in-depth conversations with the creative team and the photographer or director, to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Then it’s up to us to brief the location scout. I find that working very, very closely – often speaking multiple times a day with the scout, while they are out, scouting – yields the best results. Really honing in on the details, really understanding architectural and stylistic nuances, and having the ear to the ground make for successful locations that can elevate the overall look of the concept. I love staying on top of trends of architecture and design and often find myself bringing in this knowledge into my work.
Production Paradise: We saw that you recently had a project with Serena Williams, can you share with us that experience?
Mary: The shoot for Away with Serena Williams was fast and furious. It is also a great example for what we were just talking about, and the importance of being able to interpret the location needs and come up with creative and nuanced solutions. The brief called for an upscale airport lounge, but Serena was in training for the Australian Open, and could not travel far. I’m very proud of the solution we came up with. Between the location scouting – done by one of our trusted scouts whom we’ve been working with for well over a decade – the set dressing, and photographer Sasha Lytvyn’s vision, the images convey modern-day traveling. It makes me happy that the team trusted us when we presented them with the locations.
Celebrity shoots are unique. The stakes are high, and it’s our job to keep the production very calm and hyper-organized. Making the celebrity and their team feel warmly welcomed is just as important as creating comfortable green rooms for celebrity and client, and briefing the team on protocol and schedule.
Production Paradise: You’ve been our longest-running member, more than 16 years a member of Production Paradise. Can you share a few words about your experience with us?
Mary: The Production Paradise network is vast, and it runs deep. We love being part of this community, and not just because we’ve heard countless times that this is where someone found us. What’s nice is that it works in every direction: Production Paradise is the first resource we go to when we look for new production partners, and it’s an established, reliable platform where clients, agencies, and creatives seek out talent – a win-win.