For most of the past decade I have traveled extensively throughout Africa; a continent that I fell in love with the moment my feet hit it’s rich red soil. I have traveled and photographed in many countries on other continents, but my heart kept bringing me back to Africa where my work is now focused. It has been an incredible journey and is now my passion to share the magic of this amazing place with as many people as possible. I passionately and personally put hours of research into each itinerary to ensure the best possible safari and photographic opportunities based on my own years of experience. The best part about leading photographic safari’s is when I hear a client say, “This is the best thing that I have ever experienced”
In their own words, here are some of the experiences from recent guest that joined me on a safari, tour, or workshop….
Turkana Festival and Wildlife Safari
My trip to the Turkana Festival and Kenya wildlife with Piper McKay was a highlight of my travel experiences. Piper’s photographic skills, her professionalism, and her planning down to the smallest detail, made the two weeks of the trip among the highlights I’ll remember forever. How else would I ever have the opportunity to visit with the residents of tribal villages, travel with them, experience one-to-one a lifestyle so far from the one I left behind? This trip offered amazing photographic opportunities, but made an indelible
Impression , teaching me how people on the African continent live and the challenges they face while maintaining their traditional way of life.
Thanks, Piper, for advancing my photo skills and teaching me unforgettable life lessons. – Fran Kaufman
Turkana Festival and Wildlife Safari
I am a professional photographer who has traveled with Piper twice to Africa. The first time was to Ethiopia for the Lalibela Christmas celebration and to photograph the tribes of the Omo Valley. The second time, which I have just returned from, was to Kenya for safari and to shoot the Turkana festival and the tribes living near Amboseli and Samburu National Parks. Both trips were extraordinary and very well planned. My photographs have more than exceeded my expectations. I am thrilled with the images I got. Piper is very knowledgeable about Africa, the safaris and equally the tribes.
She is very hands on and passionate about all aspects of her tours. She is a very strong leader and will fight to get her clients into the best situations for them to obtain the photos they are seeking. I would highly recommend going on one of her photo trips. You will not be disappointed. I will be traveling with her again soon! –Nancy Ney
Spirit-N-Light workshop 2016
Two weeks ago I was fortunate to get the chance to spend 3 days at the V6 Ranch in CA with Piper Mackay for her Spirit ‘n Light workshop. I have been doing wildlife photography for about 6 years now and this workshop took my skills to a new level! I have participated in other workshops but never one in which I learned as much in such a short time. It was 3 intense, action-packed days, filled with real-time practice in the field. And it didn’t hurt to have had some good-looking cowboys and cowgirls as our models! 🙂 If anyone is thinking of doing a workshop of this type, I strongly recommend this one. – Karyn Schiller
Spirit-N-Light workshop 2016
As an experienced photographer, I’ve attended quite a few workshops. This was definitely one of the best. Piper is an excellent instructor who presented a variety of useful and interesting techniques, including those that help to create the sculpted light in her own gorgeous images. We had plenty of time to practice in a variety of settings, and the presentations and critiques in-between practice sessions were valuable. The ranch itself is peaceful and beautiful, with a super friendly, accommodating staff who were also excellent models. If you’re on the fence about signing up for one of Piper’s workshops, JUST GO. You’ll be happy you did. – Nicole Wilde
Kenya Wildlife Safari 2016
My wife and I traveled with Piper to Kenya in August, 2016. This was our second trip with her, having been to India with her as well. We booked another trip with Piper for good reason. Traveling with Piper is special. She fosters a climate of friendship among her guests. On each trip we made friends with other participants that continue today, and will for years to come. In Kenya Piper shined. Her years of experience in east Africa is obvious. Her knowledge of the area, animals, and people was evident throughout our three week trip. During our trip we interacted with the residents of three tribal villages, and had up close wildlife experiences in four parks. This was accomplished without feeling rushed through the logistical support Piper had in place. Whether she was interacting with a local village or taking us on a safari drive her enthusiasm was contagious. Without her we would not have come away with the photographs, or more importantly, the experiences we tokk with us from our journey in Kenya. We highly recommend traveling with Piper. – Greg Thompson
Great Migration Safari 2016
Turkana Festival and wildlife Safari
Piper’s personal links to the individuals and tribes of East Africa plus her ability to share her wide store of photographic knowledge, make for a unique cultural and photographic experience. – Deborah Harrison
I just completed the spring Spirit n Light workshop with Piper Mackay. What an amazing experience! Piper encourages you to use light in such a way as to create images with drama and impact. In conjunction with the ranch staff she creates unique opportunities to capture images in wonderful morning and evening light. Through these she teaches you to consider how you are capturing light and environment while composing your images. In addition to this you practice techniques such as panning and silhouettes that add to your photographers toolbox. Piper has incredible enthusiasm and knowledge. I learned , practiced and was inspired by this workshop. Definitely a wonderful, worthwhile experience. – Catherine Page -Canada
“The Spirit-N-Light workshop was magical. a working ranch, Piper’s incredible expertise and enthusiasm, and individual attention for each participant allowed each of us to experience a photographic journey that will always be remembered”. – Bill Koenig
Piper Mackay’s Ethiopia Tour was the trip of a lifetime. The highlights were Lalibela Christmas celebrations, the Gelada Baboons in the Simian Mountains and visiting the tribes of the Omo Valley. The tribal visits were a rare opportunity to see a way of life that has existed for hundreds of years before it changes from paving roads into the Omo Valley. Electric poles were along the roads, which will soon bring electricity to the villages. Piper presents many unique photo opportunities that you could not easily duplicate. She is also there to coach you in improving your photographic technique. I had to take the opportunity and I was delighted with the results. – Ken Slagle
Turkana Festival and wildlife Safari
I was very fortunate to participate in the Turkana Festival & Wildlife Safari, May 2015 with Piper Mackay and a group of 7 other enthusiastic photographers. I purposely chose this trip because this experience combined an opportunity to photograph wildlife as well as an opportunity to connect to different tribes in their natural habitats. This was truly a trip of a lifetime. Wildlife photography was very new to me and I learned a great deal in terms of technical issues such as speed of shutter, positing animals and more. I was fortunate to ride in a safari jeep with Piper at various times during the safari experience. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and expertise of the land and the animals enabled us to find several unique photography opportunities. One highlight for me was photographing elephants and zebra when they were dusting themselves. I will always remember the incredible gifts that Piper Mackay has given to the tribes of Kenya. Creating a relationship and building trust with the warriors of the tribes has been a special talent of Piper. Piper has reached out to remote tribe warriors, created a special trust, taught them about connections with people different than themselves and given them gifts that I know they will forever treasure. I will never forget the excitement that I felt when our safari jeep pulled into the small village of the El Moro tribe. Everyone ran out to welcome Piper and her photographers and screamed in glee. I particularly loved the Turkana Festival as my favorite photography subjects were people.My favorite part of the trip occurred when Piper said ” We have a special surprise later” Quite frequently during the trip, Piper arranged special surprises whether it was photographing warriors fishing at sunset or face pairing at sunrise or portraits on the rocks looking at the jade waters of Lake Turkana. Something exciting was always happening and very much reminded me of my experience at sleep-away camp when I was 12 years old. A special surprise and unique new experience always created an atmosphere of excitement, enjoyment and a verbs special opportunity. My friend, Randi was researching trip opportunities that were available in Africa. Randi said to me ” The person to see Africa with is Piper Mackay” and boy was Randi correct. Turkana Festival and Wildlife Safari was a highlight of my life experiences – Nancy Turret, NY
Turkana Festival and wildlife Safari
In reflection, I could not have asked for a better trip. From sharing my deck one afternoon with an elephant AND a couple of monkeys at Elephant Camp to the utter joy of meeting so many kind and welcoming people in the villages, the lodges and the festival, I will never forget the beauty of Kenya. The hard work you put in to the logistics of ensuring we as photographers had great opportunities was very evident and appreciated. The rapport you’ve built with the many tribes made it easier for them to embrace us as they embrace you. Our drivers/guides were incredibly knowledgeable and simply wonderful people. I really hated to leave, so I understand how you have come to love this country so well. I chose this trip for the opportunity for the combination of wildlife photography (of which I’d done very little) and the fantastic contact with these remote tribes. I would recommend it to anyone wishing to experience a once in a lifetime journey. I’m thrilled with the images I made on this trip. – Lisa Thomas
Colors of India
I have done a lot of photo expeditions throughout the world, primarily with National Geographic. This was the best organized trip that I’ve been on, and I came out of it with more great photos than I’ve gotten from any other trip. I would do another trip with Piper in a heartbeat. Eric Stoen
I have been struggling to master my camera and equipment. My photos are technically good—but nothing dramatic. This workshop helped me understand how to use the light to create dramatic photos. Also, I learned the techniques to take photos using all the tools to capture action shots, sunrise and sunset shots and people shots under difficult conditions. I have been too willing to take the shots that occur rather that create the shots that truly capture the drama and beauty. – Ken Slagle
a. A fabulous experience!!!! Great opportunity to learn about the beauty of rim light.
b. I decided to go to this workshop in preparation for the trip to Africa with Piper in August. It was deninatly the right decision. Now I know how to use my camera to be able to catch the dramatic effect of the light on the horses crossing the water. Undoubtedly, this will pay off as we photograph the wildebeests crossing the Masai Mara during the Great Migration. – Muriel McClellan
“Piper really knows how to make walking through a field of cow pies at six in the morning fun and exciting. Her energy and instruction during the workshop made it enjoyable and enlightening. I have a much greater appreciation for light and motion now, and even managed to capture some of that magic in my shots.” – Dan Trimble
If you are looking to move your photography to a different level, the Spirit-N-Light workshop is for you. The variety of location shoots was amazing. Reflections, horses galloping through water, portraits, panning, rim light – we had a chance to practice it all in a relaxed setting. Piper knew what she was doing and it showed. She waited for the light – whether it was hitting a hill at just the right moment or having the sun rise in a valley – we got to experience firsthand what she was talking about. There truly is a spirit in light and I believe all of the participants’ workshop photos reflect that. Piper has designed a memorable learning experience topped off by wonderful hospitality shown by the ranch, fabulous food and bringing together a great group to shoot with. I highly recommend it – Laurie Thomson – Ontario
Piper’s enthusiasm and love of photography are highly contagious and the whole weekend was so much fun. The location, the accommodations and all the people that we worked with were absolutely wonderful. The food was great. Not only did I get photos that I’m very proud of, I learned a great deal, made new friends and came away with an experience that I will always treasure. I would definitely recommend this workshop and I look forward to attending another one. -Ana Ramirez – California
As a seasoned traveller (70 countries) , and with many companies and photographers
I experienced Piper MacKay to actually deliver what she promoted in her program. All of the pre-trip information was carefully explained and she answered questions and sent a body of informations that was useful. Her attention to detail was executed at every turn on our adventure, where in Africa-anything, anytime will and go wrong. It was evident that she scouted all areas and upon arrival re-scouted before we ventured into a territory-smart safety rules for her clients. Always, she was available for photo tips and assistance which I always anticipate and other companies seldom follow through on this.
I am happy to highly recommend Piper as a travel hostess and would defiantly travel with her anywhere in the world. – Miki Teixeira – California
We had an incredible experience that went far beyond what any tour company could provide. – Tom and Julie Cassen
Piper has spent enormous amounts of time getting to know the Omo Valley and its tribes. Because it is a rapidly changing area due to events happening elsewhere in the country, I highly recommend taking advantage of her expertise before these fascinating peoples and their habitats disappear. – Nancy Williams
It was always my dream to go to East Africa on safari. I researched many companies, but when I heard of Piper Mackay, I just knew that she would be the best, and all my expectations were met and beyond. This was a photographic safari, and everyone had professional long lenses, except me. However, with good pointers from Piper and fellow travelers, I soon picked up on what to look for when getting a good photo, and it was amazing how many great wildlife shots that I got, using my little Canon with the zoom lens. For nearly 2 weeks, from dawn to dusk, it was almost nonstop being with the animals, and we saw just about every species on the African savannah. Piper knew where to find them, and what time they would be there…it was amazing her knowledge of the African wildlife habits. I fell in love with the beautiful blue-eyed leopard in Samburu, delighted at the Cheetah who jumped up on our vehicles in the Maasai Mara, was in awe of Scar, the magnificent male lion of the Marsh Pride, and thrilled to the thundering herd of elephants crossing in front of us in Amboseli, not to mention the giggling afternoon picnic with the hippos playing peek-a-boo as we imitated their snorts ! So many great photos, remarkable stories, and memories to last forever…until the next time! – Lori Denham – Washington
Piper, you are the whole package!!! I have been on a few workshops and you top them all. Your extensive research, the program and the venue, combined with your enthusiasm, dedication, sensitivity, professionalism and photographic knowledge all came together to make for one fantastic workshop. Being driven door to door by you was such a wonderful bonus for which I am truly grateful. You are one sensitive and caring workshop leader. THANK YOU for everything. – Astrid Fernandes, Toronto
“Piper’s enthusiasm for the subject is very contagious! She inspired us to try new things even though we are experienced photographers, and worked tirelessly to make sure we came home with a wide variety of images.” –Lillian Roberts
“I was very fortunate to have participated in Piper’s Spirit-N-Light workshop held at the beautiful V6 ranch in Parkfield, CA. To photograph horses on those golden, contoured hills maximizing the magical early morning and evening light was a highlight for me. Piper’s passion for her art was front and centre throughout the entire experience. Her knowledge of light and her rapport with the ranch staff, allowed us so many opportunities to capture breath taking images, not just pretty pictures. The log style inn accommodations were gorgeous, cozy, comfortable and lent marvelously to the western experience. And the food? Oh the food! Absolutely wonderful, particularly those warm baked treats ready for us when we would return from our morning shoots;-) Add to that the incredible staff and owners of the V6 ranch who couldn’t have been more accommodating, and you have one very successful workshop! I am an intermediate/amateur photographer and wouldn’t hesitate to participate in any of Piper’s workshops or tours. In fact, I will meet up with Piper again on her Best of Kenya tour in just a few weeks where I hope to apply some of the skills I’ve learned from her at the V6 ranch! Thank you so much Piper!” – Sandy Spurrell – Canada
“Being in Amboseli National Park, Kenya with Piper Mackay was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. She knows the area, the behavior of the animals and is a pro at directing the driver to get in position for that perfect head-on shot. I came home with priceless images and memories!” – Laurie Rubin, Nik Software
“Piper’s whole trip greatly exceeded our expectations. The trip ran amazingly smoothly. We were appreciative of Piper’s assertiveness with drivers and trackers to get the best possible photographic opportunities. Although it is not a photographic workshop, Piper was very helpful with her periodic advice. We would are very willing to have prospective clients call us so that we can talk over our experience. over the telephone to anyone contemplating taking a trip with you.” -Garth and Jean Grimmer
” I have traveled all over the world doing photo workshops and I have been with some of the very best and well known professional photographers. I have to say Piper provided an outstanding trip. Her attention to detail was I believe noticed and appreciated by everyone. I would love to travel with her again and hopefully soon.” -Vaughn Hart
So, I have dreamed of going to Africa since I was a child and had talked about it for the past 6 yrs or more. The trip that we chose was one created specifically for photographers and we had the honor of traveling with some professionals. The IDEA in your mind of a trip to Africa may be so close to the truth, but the actual experience trumps on levels beyond belief. Piper was our leader, our teacher, and friend for 2 wks. She took us to spots in her back yard, that only a photographer would have the sense to go to with the urgency of a pro trying to ‘GET THE SHOT’, but also with the exuberance of a child. She’s done it so many times, but the familiarity and possibilities of something new is just so tempting. Over and over again we’d hear things like ‘Lions in trees!!! Go, Go, GO!!!! Leopards in trees! DRIVE FASTER!!!!! Look to your left!!!! Baby giraffe!!!!!!’ All with hands clasped tightly together and screaming with anticipation while we carried on to our next spot. It didn’t matter what camera you had, a point and shoot camera, a Nikon or Cannon, forty thousand dollars or two hundred dollars worth of equipment, she was CONSTANTLY checking to see if you were on the correct setting, simultaneously speaking about your subject and the correct vision to capture through the lens. Your minds eye will treasure the vision forever, but the LENS tells your story truthfully. I learned things from Piper that I would never have learned from my manual. Our gatherings for dinner would involve picture sharing from the days events, a lion kill, pool full of hippos, hyenas chasing a herd of wildebeest, etc. She would discuss the pros and cons of our moments, recap the days lessons, only to remind you again early next morning, to remember all we learned and discussed before venturing out to devour whatever eye candy mother nature decided to fatten us up on. I will travel with Piper again. She has instilled in me, a deeper understanding to what I already had a burning passion for, seeing Africa and taking pictures. It does not matter what your knowledge of a camera is, she’ll simply show you the ropes and teach you all about the animals, the people, their culture, and the history of the land. It IS her backyard, and she knows it well. She knows all the creatures and their habits, where they will be, at what time, when they eat and at what moment you will get the best lighting for your shot. Be it for a magazine submission, or to show your grand children in an album, Pro’s, semi pro’s, hobbyists, whatever – I can’t imagine any one providing what Piper did on this trip. Thank you, Piper……so very much. – Gail Dermody.
I had a lot of fun to make this trip with Piper and other participants.The trip was very well organized with a large number of photo safaris.The driver-guides were very knowledgeable and we had the chance to see so many animals in exceptional circumstances and 4 crossings in 9 days.The steps in the tents were well chosen and magical. It was a really great moment. Thanks Piper for everything -Brigitte – Bali, Indonesia
I signed up for this trip because I wanted to gain an experience that challenged the way I see the world; a trip that would be an adventure, and one I would remember fondly for the rest of my life. I can honestly say I easily achieved all three and I have also become a much better photographer from it.
Spending time with these people is a truly magical experience and with Piper’s leadership and guidance, I was able to experience it to the full. I found Piper provided the right balance of direction and flexibility, and I found her to be an excellent photography coach. Things also change quickly in Africa, and Piper did a great job of handling these and giving us some flexibility in our schedule to decide what we wanted to do. I recognize we were fortunate in having a small group that may make this less feasible with a trip with more people. Perhaps most importantly, I felt completely safe on this trip, Piper does not cut any corners.
The portfolio I have created from this trip is truly fabulous and I can say that because of all the comments and reactions I have received. There isn’t much published work like this available and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to capture it before this way of life changes beyond recognition. I also feel a bond with everyone in my photographs and I look forward to working with these people in some shape or form in future. If you are looking for an experience you will never forget this is the trip for you! -Andy Robbins – USA
I have been a tribal photographer throughout Asia and found these tribes to be amazing in their friendleness, and comfort around us and ability to go on with their observed life without discomfort. Piper, you gave me a marvelous experience and I hope to return for more. -Louise Porter