Executive Producer Jon Protas came onboard in 2017. Drawing on his background as a newsroom picture editor, he has paved the way for large-scale global projects like Airbnb Luxe and Plus, WeWork, Trulia, and others. What’s his secret? We can’t divulge too much, but here he offers insight into the fast-paced machine that is production, offers some tips for client-facing relations, and how to communicate effectively.
“HVP is at its heart mapping out a very clearly thought out workflow that you can replicate exponentially,” Jon explains. “The same process you use to shoot one villa in Tuscany, and then ingest, edit, retouch, and deliver the resulting images, should, in theory, be endlessly replicable, given enough well-trained photographers and employees.”
“When Airbnb launched their Luxe project, they came to us to capture a single consistent vision using hundreds of photographers at thousands of properties around the globe. Once we had our system in place, it was a matter of just working ahead, sourcing talented professionals, and doing constant quality checks internally and with the client to make sure we were operating smoothly and at a high level. When it’s in full operation, it’s a beautiful machine.”
There are multiple challenges to working, not only on HVP, but on productions in general. “In live production,” Jon states, “something is always getting in the way of your perfect plan. Weather changes, last-minute scheduling conflicts, changes in creative direction, etc., are all common. Once you’ve done this for a while you learn not to expect things to remain the same just because you want them to. There will always be something to solve on the fly. In high volume photography, there are naturally more individual instances that can encounter these issues. The secret is learning from these situations and adding them to your arsenal of agreed-upon solutions, to avoid having to make it up each time.”
These at-scale productions require open communication and finesse in managing multiple teams and client-facing relations. “I see my role with our clients as similar to a restaurant. You’ve come here expecting a great meal, and I’m going to make that happen. I’ll be honest with you during that process about what is possible. But my job is to help the clients succeed. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s difficult.”
“Oftentimes the person we are dealing with has a lot of pressure coming down on them, and they’re looking for someone to help them determine if a task is possible, and if so, how to execute it successfully.”
“At the end of the day, the team we have built at Blink is resilient and know how to think outside the box. We see a problem, we gather solutions, and then execute the most viable option — sometimes, this is really what production is.”
Thought of the day: Respect the people on your team; see who they are as individuals and understand how you can help bring the best out of them by giving them opportunities and challenging them.