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Posts Tagged 'Kenya Photography'

One Life; Dream it, Chase it, Live it.

Land Rover
If I were practical, I would not be a photographer living in Kenya. I have always been a dreamer and a dream chaser. For weeks, I went through the grief between practical and heart racing as I traveled through Kenya and came in and out of Nairobi. Those of you that have traveled with me over the last five years know about my crazy infatuation for Land Rovers. I sat behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser, driving the rough roads of Northern Kenya, but at the end of the day, I was sitting behind a Toyota truck. It was just not the same; no matter what my head told me, my heart never fully agreed. It only took a decade of hard work, adversity, wanting to quit, and a huge investment for me to make my dream of living in Africa happen, so why would I suddenly stop taking risks and start being practical?

Really, I kept an open mind until the end. I said, “Whichever one comes my way is the right one.” Well, on my way back through Nairobi from my first trip to Turkana, I rolled past this Landy. It only took about 30 hours and I had the keys. I guess it was love at first sight, as I had test drove several Landy’s on this lot since mid-December. It only took another four days to get stuck in the black cotton soil, or rather high centered and temporarily delayed, proper. The next day I broke it. These things have now been checked off the list, stuck and broken, and I continue to look for a place to make me a bumper sticker that says, “I would rather be pushing my Landy.”

Nairobi jeep
I am now in the process of preparing for my photographer in residence in the Maasai Mara, from July 1-21! She has been thoroughly checked by two top mechanics, with great results. I needed new brake pads, a few belts replaced, a small short fixed, and a few bolts tightened. She is now at the famous Schuhmacher’s, Land Rover conversion specialist, to have a hatch put in the roof over the front seats.

I know those of you who are practical, will be thinking, “You should have gotten a Land Cruiser”, but my philosophy of “One Life, Live It”, has allowed me to live my dream completely. At the end of the day, if it all goes south, I could just simplify my life by breathing deeply, throwing my stuff in the back, opening my eyes, and hitting the road for another long adventure down a bumpy dirt road.

Africa
The vision of my African Dream was always in a Land Rover. Dreams don’t chase themselves. I could not justify letting fear and practicality stand between me and the dream; I had to go all the way.


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Piper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

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Free Falling; Stay Calm & Come to the Mara!

Africa-Safari-Maasai-Mara1Captured with the iPhone 4 just before returning to Mara Bush Camp

It is hard to believe I have been living in Kenya for a month already! I have traveled here so often over the past decade that I think it feels more like another visit than actually living here.

From the moment my feet hit the rich red African soil on May 24th, 2004, I longed to live here for at least one year of my life; an experience I needed to have in my lifetime. It has taken me more than 10 years to achieve this, with great sacrifice, hard lessons, and a failed attempt four years ago. When I landed and walked through the front door with my 7 suitcases and boxes, I expected to feel right at home; jump up and down and shout, “I did it, I am living my dream!” Instead, what happened was panic, “OMG, what have I done!?” My instinct was to run, get back on a plane and head home.

Free falling; when you take the final jump to live your dream, put everything on the line, and risk it all, it can be exhilarating yet terrifying. I imagine it would be much like the first time you jump out of an airplane and parachuted down.

I was in a strange place – knew only a handful of people, had no car (still don’t), no TV, Internet was installed but not working, and I had no furniture except for a bed. The next few weeks I was more in a state of panic than joyful bliss. I will always be so grateful to Sunworld Safaris, who embraced me like family, helped me get around Nairobi, showed immense kindness and got me out to the Mara for New Year’s Eve. They knew that what I needed was go to the Mara.

It was incredible to be in the Mara during the off-season (non-migration time) and on New Year’s Eve! With the exception of a few small groups of photographers and locals celebrating the holiday, it was virtually empty; a photographer’s dream. I could spend hours with Malika (a famous cheetah) and her four cubs or work from the Land Cruiser while sitting across from the Rekeero pride, which were of coarse sleeping. Now, I felt at home, and my office was in nature. The best part was when Air Kenya landed on the dirt airstrip, just minutes from bush camp and picked me up. The flight back to Nairobi was a mere 45 minutes, my driver was outside waiting for me, and in 20 minutes I was home.

This is exactly why I moved to Kenya! To have more time to photograph, experience and capture the stories that move me. I have now been back in Nairobi for just over a week, working harder than ever, planning some exciting photographic adventures for 2016. Many of you have been asking about trips in 2016 and I should start listing them in the next few weeks. I am heading to Samburu for a few days, before heading to India on January 26, with Deborah Sandidge and a great group of photographers.

May you all have the courage to pursue your own dreams!

OfficeInNatureMaraOffice in Nature – captured on the iPhone 4 – in the Maasai Mara

3 OffiiceInNatureMaraBushCampOffice in Nature – captured on the iphone4 – at Mara Bush Camp

4 OfficeInNatureNairobioffice in Nature – captured on the iPhone 4 – at the house in Nairobi

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PiperMackayPiper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

Posted in: General, Nature Photography

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