‘The images are confronting’: Q&A with animal photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur

One the title page of Hidden: Animals in the Anthropocene is a black-and-white portrait of a lamb. The little animal, probably only a few weeks old, stands alone on the stained concrete floor of a slaughterhouse at a live animal market in China. The lamb gazes forward, its chin lifted, almost like it’s trying to catch the eye of the photographer. Shortly after the image was taken, the young lamb was likely killed for its meat. In the pages that follow, there are photos of battery hens standing on the dead bodies of their companions in crammed cages in Spain; the heads of slaughtered dogs tossed into a bowl at a market in Cambodia; piles of fish gasping for air after being caught by an industrial trawler off the coast of France. Some of the most confronting pictures are those that show animals in blood-smeared slaughterhouses, wide-eyed as they watch people kill their companions shortly before their turn arrives. “There’s a lot of wildlife photography out there and photography of companion animals, but [not of] these hidden animals,” Jo-Anne McArthur, co-editor of the book, told Mongabay in an interview. “We’re just like, ‘Oh, well, they’re for our consumption. They’re not worthy of any attention. That’s different.’ But it’s not different.” McArthur, an award-winning photographer who has spent more than 20 years photographing the human-animal relationship, and who was once diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the intensity of her work, says the photographs in Hidden follow in the tradition…This article was originally published on Mongabay