Worth 1000 Words: Holly Campbell's Sow No. 3

There’s a phrase that we’ve all heard before — ‘a picture paints 1000 words’ — but those words may be different for each person. Sometimes you might create your own meaning for a photograph that you encounter; however, it can be nice to know the true story behind an image and what was running through the photographer’s mind as they captured it. We talked to Holly Campbell about her photograph Sow No. 3, and found out the interesting story behind it.

Holly Campbell's Sow No. 3

D-Photo: What’s the name of this photograph?
Holly Campbell: Sow No. 3 from the series Monday is the Day for Killing.

Can you describe where you were when you captured this image?
At a home-kill butcher. I was there doing a photographic study on the processes and techniques of a butcher. 

What stood out to you that this would make a great shot?
[All t]he pigs in the holding pen were very stressed out, apart from this pig. She was very calm and oblivious to what was about to happen to her. She let me take a number of photographs, but this one was the ‘money shot’ as she looked straight down the barrel of my camera with a melancholic stare. 

How much planning went into it?
Very little planning. I was at the location shooting a documentary, so had a very loose plan about what particular images I wanted to create. I knew that I wanted to get portraits of the animals before they were killed, to capture the emotions that they were experiencing. 
What is the message that you hope people take from seeing this image?

The documentary started out as a simple examination of a day [in the] life of a butcher. However, as the project developed, it became more complicated, and I began to research into factory farming and abattoirs. Issues such as animal welfare and how agriculture as a whole impacts the environment came up during this research, and it definitely made me think twice about where my food came from. I hope that this image and the series Monday is the Day for Killing has the same impact on its viewers. 

What gear and settings did you use to take it?
My trusty Nikon D7000 with a 70–200mm f/2.8 lens. It was shot at f/5.6, 1/400s, and ISO 250.
What did you do to edit this image, and why did you make the adjustments that you did?
I converted the image to black and white, as the rest of the images in Monday is the Day for Killing were also in black and white. My choice to [keep this consistent throughout the series] was a very conscious one, as I believe that black-and-white images eliminate any distractions and therefore draw the viewer into the small details of the image, such as tones and textures, which [are] … evident in this image. Along with the black-and-white conversion, I also increased the contrast of this image to enhance the detail on the pig’s face. 

What interested you in pursuing photography?
[When] … I was a child, I was fascinated by the ability to freeze a moment in time. I am still fascinated by this concept and primarily use it to document change in our environment and culture — which is what my work tends to be based around. Since completing the series of Monday is the Day for Killing, I have been more interested in New Zealand’s agricultural industry and the impact it has on the environment. Photography allows me to explore these issues in a creative but educational way. 

If people want to see more of your work, where can they find you?
To see the rest of the series Monday is the Day for Killing, as well as other documentaries I have done, please visit my website: holly-campbell.format.com, and Instagram: @hollymollyc.

To read all about Holly's project Tupu'anga, grab a copy of D-Photo Issue No. 77, in stores from Monday, January 23, or pick up a copy of the magazine below: 

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Lara Wyatt

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