Author Archives: Kuo Photo

About Kuo Photo

Linda Kuo is a documentary photographer whose work centers on social-environmental issues, with a focus on the impact humankind has upon nature and the animal kingdom. It is the animal that solicits Kuo's projects, and most strongly connects her to the underlying sensibilities of her work. Linda feels that animals and nature are endowed with resilient mechanisms for survival, and posses the ability to continually adapt and yield to changing circumstances. However, their innate and intelligent systems of proficiency, are continually being stressed under the actions of humankind. With simplicity and openness, she hopes to create imagery that provokes consideration towards the preservation and responsible stewardship of our environment, and the sentient beings that inhabit our world. Linda has been nominated for PDN's 30: Emerging Photographers to Watch, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, The London Sunday Times Magazine, Slate, and Photograph. Linda's photography has been exhibited at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, The Center for Fine Art Photography, and the Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography in Barcelona among other national and international exhibitions. In addition to photography, Linda is a certified yoga instructor specializing in rehabilitation and injury, passionate about the violin, and interested in Asian culture. Linda lives in New York with her family and continues to work on her long term projects.

Tis the Season

On the highways of Illinois
There is no preservation, is essence is lost. 2 live morning doves, with taxidermy fawn and coyote

I could never understood the dark irony of stalking a majestic wild animal, who, using every skillful instinctive tool it possesses to survive, and being quite deft with those skills on its own, with all the endeavor that daily survival entails, is suddenly in one defining moment, taken out of existence. More befuddling, is once it’s been extinguished and devitalized, it is taken to a taxidermist, who then tries to make it look as lifelike as possible.

I could never understand, the bragging rights for the spoils of an ambush, of a harmless animal that wanders (or is baited) into a fatal frame and taken down by a high powered something or other. What is the takeaway, of receiving a bounty for an arena of your own design, with a player of one? There is no squaring off. There is no even playing field. There is not even awareness, from the other opponent, that they are even participating. We could also equate this scenario in kind, with the plight of our planet.

There is no point for preservation, if essence is lost.

Sad Find

Sad find

More and more, I’ve been met with experiences that bring to light, just how delicate, precious, and fragile life is. What this brings to me, is to be grateful and incredibly aware, of the seemingly insignificant things in life, which in fact, are the most profound.

Last Song

I picked up this little bird, and before I laid it to rest, I studied every last miraculous detail. I found a spot that would honor and echo, its brief existence in the world. A delicate place replete with beauty. At the very moment I placed it back into the earth, my wind chimes rang with ferocity. A fitting chorus, to Its final song.

Scrub and a Massage

Farmer Allen gives a lucky cow, a back massage

Farmer ingenuity. A repurposed car wash brush, is used as a scratching post for farmer Allen’s herd.

Who doesn’t like a massage? And that includes the bovine’s at Whippoorwill Farm in Lakeville CT. Farmer Allen, runs a humane and sustainable farm that is AWA complaint. AWA standing for Animal Welfare Approved, which upholds the highest standards for ethical and humanely run farms that raise livestock for food. Farmer Allen goes the distance when it comes to doling out some extra special comforts, such as, repurposing a used car wash brush as a scratching post for his cows when they become itchy from shedding their hair coats.

During the warmer months, Allen’s often found in the field giving massages to a few choice cows, who lean into him for more, just as my dog Ernie does. It is commonly thought, that livestock raised humanely and with compassion, produce more tender meat, vs their sad counterparts who live a life of stress and despair in factory farms. Considering fresh air, space, and a clean and beautiful environment, are essential to all walks of life.

Even in decay, nature still provides.

Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear in decay

As I got off the train yesterday and walked towards my car, my eye was caught by a landscaped area by the bike racks . It contained a large mass of prickly pear that seemed to have met its demise in a brief but dramatic thunderstorm that hit the area a couple of days ago. It was a sad sight, but at the same time, quite beautiful. There was much going on as pill bugs and snails were at the scene, doing their due diligence and taking advantage of the carnage. Nature is efficient, she is resourceful, and she is not wasteful.  She self grooms in these storms, recycling energy back into her intelligent systems that humankind can’t fully comprehend. What can we glean from her wisdom? There are infinite resources in observing nature. How can we learn from this paradigm of decay? In our disposable society, we generate so much toxic waste-soiling of our own nest. If we do not have the discipline and understanding  to make better choices for ourselves and our planet, then we need to cultivate solutions that do not cause further harm, and provide solutions to our damaging ways. Nature, has the answers. We just need to ask the right questions.

I read something once that said “If you can make more money, should you?” And I took that statement further to, “If you could (fill in the blank) should you?” Work harder, choose better, do better. If you can do more good, should you?

Today thousands of people are dying Easter Eggs. The white canvas, being the egg color of choice, as the backdrop to all the permutations and combinations of paas color tablets, glitter, sprinkles, stickers, and little plastic shrink sleeves with little chick and flower designs. Just for one day. You can’t dye the brown organic certified humane eggs, so those remain in the grocers case the week or two prior to the Easter Bunny’s debut. So, should you think “Well it’s just one day, just one egg dying event?” But in thousands of warehouses all over the nation, millions of hens are suffering dismal circumstances, to over produce to meet the demands of this holiday. Along with countless chicks and rabbits, that are used for displays, give aways, and impulsive Easter gifts, only to be abandoned and discarded at the end of the day. If you can choose better, should you? The pale blue/green eggs I chose for dying this year, were certified humane, and although not the optimal choice for a pastel palate of yellow and soft pinks, we turned out a creative display of eggs to our delight. And although they come at a premium price, I paid $2/dozen than the average certified humane brown eggs, the average person thinks nothing of spending $2 – 1/2 the price of a tall coffee at Starbucks. Every time you make a choice, they are cumulative to the person you become, to the energy you send out, to the example that you lead, to the message that you give.

Photograph Magazine

One of 3 deer found at the scene. Mating season, or "the Rut," occurs in autumn, when buck are in high pursuit of a doe.
One of 3 deer found at the scene. Mating season, or “the Rut,” occurs in autumn, when buck are in high pursuit of a doe.

Delighted to be featured in the Jan/Feb. issue of Photograph Magazine, curated by Elisabeth Biondi.

“Linda Kuo believes that nature, despite being disrespected by humankind, holds the answers to our survival. She insists that we should held accountable for its treatment-that good stewardship, rather than dominance, will lead to ecological solutions. Her convictions find expression in her photographs, which tell stories about the vulnerability and marginalization of animals.

In her most recent project, Reclaimed, deer killed in car collisions take center stage. Kuo lives in Westchester, New York, which like many suburban East Coast communities has an abundance of deer. They are perceived as a nuisance, a view she does not entirely share. Once day, coming across a deer killed along the road, she felt compassion for the lifeless body and was compelled to photograph it. While she was photographing in the pouring rain, a Department of Transportation truck came by to pick up the deer. The encounter sparked her curiosity about where they took the animal, and she began to research it. Ulster County, New York, not far from Westchester, enacted a program a few years ago in which the bodies of the deer are removed and turned into fertile compost. as soon as she found out about the program, she embarked on a project of documenting this cycle of animals being reclaimed and returned to nature.

Meticulously photographing each step of this process, Kuo does not shy away from its unsavory aspects, but her images are filled with reverence for the animal and nature. Her pictures are perfectly composed, though Kuo is self-taught, and their beauty derives in part from her instinctual connection with the natural world.

Linda Kuo grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where hers was the only Asian family in their middle class neighborhood. She felt marginalized and defenseless. Later, working in the fashion world, she felt similarly pigeonholed. In her photographic essays, she connects her own personal sense of alienation with the relationship of humans and animals, a thread that she will continue into her next series, about conservation.” – Elisabeth Biondi

GEO Wissen

From the project "Displaced"

From the project “Displaced”

From the project "Displaced"

From the project “Displaced”

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Very happy to be featured in GEO Wissen, featuring images from my project “Displaced.” The feature story focuses on animals undergoing various states of rehabilitation. “Displaced” focuses on exotic pets that receive treatment at the Avian and Exotic Medical Center in NYC, and their experiences at the center.

Sleep

Jennifer and Elmo take a nap in her granny's bed.

Jennifer and Elmo take a nap in her granny’s bed.

I first met Jennifer and Elmo at The Avian and Exotic Medical Center in NYC, while shooting a personal project. Jennifer is an only child, and was raised by her grandparents and her mother. When her grandpa died when she was only 23, and her mother shortly thereafter, Jennifer continued to live with, and take care of her 92 yr. old granny. She originally bought Elmo-an intelligent and engaging Cockatoo that talks, (and says her name in Spanish with a Dominican accent), to keep her granny company when she’s at work. Recently her granny passed away, and Jennifer and Elmo remain in the apartment she grew up in. Elmo likes to take naps, and here they are taking a nap together, in her granny’s bed. From the moment I met them, it was apparent they had a close knit bond.

I entered this image in Alec Soth’s contest for “this ain’t art school.” Alec Soth, in conjunction with Deichtor Hallen of Hamberg, ran a contest with the theme of “sleep” When I came across the contest, this image of Jennifer and Elmo came to mind, and I entered it on the last day. I am fond of it because for me, taking a nap with a beloved pet, is the best nap there is. To indulge in a nap with a pet- hearing them breathe, and snore, is not like taking a nap with a person. There is an understanding, an unspoken bond and connection that is beyond human comprehension.

I just found out that I have won second place, and am overjoyed. I’m overjoyed because of the good natured spirit of the contest, looking at all the entries, and for the love of the theme, which was”Sleep.” Sleep, love, eating. All the most basic of needs, that have deep meaning, ritual, and comfort in all its associations. It was a contest where placing, was akin to my memory of winning my first contest ever, where the prize was a 6 pack of orange crush that I had won by being the 6th caller into a radio station when I was in high school. Of course this contest has much more significance and purpose, but for me, Alex Soth’s work has deep meaning, context, but also many times humor and levity. And it’s humor and levity, that we need most of all.

Alex explained why he chose the images that he did, and for mine, it was Elmo the cockatoo, along with the fact that Jennifer’s curls mimic the telephone cord at the edge of the bed. Her curls and relationship to the cord, his did not occur to me as I was photographing them, but ironically, sometimes my images possess this type of irony after the fact. I find that these artistic coincidences, are really in fact probably not coincidences, but subconscious choices made deep within our psyche. It’s always a marvel, and a revelation.