From the darkroom to the Golden Arches – Interview with food & drink photographer Karen Thomas


Karen Thomas has always loved doing what she does best – bringing a beautifully natural and foodie aspect to her work. Karen has worked with numerous well-known brands like Marks & Spencer, Nestlé, Costa and Waitrose just to name a few. The constant challenge of producing mouth-watering shots keeps Karen inspired and ready for new projects coming her way.

We’re excited to share some insight into her career as she recently answered a few questions for our readers. Read more below about Karen’s foodie lifestyle and peep her newest work.

Production Paradise: What initially inspired you to pursue a photography career and where did you get started?

Karen Thomas: My dad bought me a camera and I started using the darkroom at school. No one was really ever in there apart from me and one other person and it was a great place to immerse yourself into a whole other world. Seeing the images appear on paper was magical.

Production Paradise: Anyone who views your portfolio is probably wondering, so I must ask: What is the secret to the perfect McDonald’s photoshoot that makes their burgers look so amazing in advertisements? Are they made the same way?

Karen Thomas: It’s all about the time we spend on it and the amazing skills by the food stylist. The people that put the burgers together in McDonald’s don’t have the time that we do to spend on each burger, plus you wouldn’t be happy because it would be cold by the time you eat it.

Production Paradise: Your Instagram account has an interesting variety. Are the food photos on there mainly from your shoots, your travels or your own experiments at home?

Karen Thomas: I use Instagram to show food that I cook or images from my travels. I try not to put work shots on there as people can always see that stuff on my website. Occasionally I’ll put something work related up there but it’s mainly me just messing around.

Karen for the Showcase by Hasselblad. Scroll to the bottom for more information.

Production Paradise: I’m assuming you’d consider yourself a huge foodie, but what about beverages? Is there something you prefer to drink regularly in the studio or at the pub?

Karen Thomas: I gave up alcohol nearly two years ago so that’s changed a lot of how I see drinks. I’ve had some amazing food and drinks pairings at places like The Clove Club. I used to love wine parings but a temperance paring can be amazing. They really go to town rather than just pouring wine glass after wine glass.

Production Paradise: What place in the world has the best cuisine in your opinion?

Karen Thomas: I love Japanese food. It’s so delicious but it can also be very jarring. I love that.

Production Paradise: What hobbies do you enjoy pursuing when you’re not cooking or shooting food?

Karen Thomas: I did a couple of ceramics courses earlier this year. Turning on the wheel felt very meditative. I don’t get my hands dirty as a photographer and I love the feel of the clay in my hands. I do love to meditate and go on silent retreats too. That’s a challenge for me as I’m quite a talker!

Production Paradise: After such a long time with Production Paradise, would you say the collaboration has helped your career’s progression?

Karen Thomas: Yes, I think Production Paradise is a great platform for me to get my work out there. I sometimes don’t feature but that’s only when I’m too flat out with work to put a feature together. I always kick myself afterward as I realise I’ve missed out!

Production Paradise: Any new projects coming up you’d like us to get excited about?

Karen Thomas: I’ve just finished working on a new video of an Asian street food story and I’ve also put together a new showreel which I’ve had fun doing. I’ve also just finished shooting a load of new work for the Vue cinema. Last year ended with a shoot for Costa featuring their delicious coconut milk range (in time for Veganuary) and this year has also gotten off to a busy start with an advertising stills and motion shoot for McDonald’s, as well as a big project for Betty Crocker baking products via Roman Klis Design in Germany.


If you’re in London during February, make sure not to miss Karen at the Showcase by Hasselblad. In collaboration with theprintspace and Pro Centre, Hasselblad present a showcase of powerful and inspiring imagery, to be exhibited at theprintspace Gallery in Kingsland Road, London from 6th – 24th February 2020.
The gallery will celebrate the work of some of the UK’s top photographers, shot on a variety of Hasselblad cameras, from the iconic V System to the modern day X1D.

We would like to thank Karen for taking the time to speak with us. You can see more of her work on Production Paradise and her website.

If you want to show off your latest work to the industry in the next edition of Production Paradise’s Spotlight or Showcase magazine, contact us now!

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