Wildlife Photographer Piper Mackay
Wondrous things happen when Piper Mackay is on African soil…
Edward Lorenz coined the phrase “the butterfly effect” to describe how a seemingly insignificant event (such as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings) can have a substantial effect in some other situation (the formation of a hurricane, for example). Giving credence to the theory is research done by educational psychologist John Krumboltz which found nearly 70% of university graduates revealed their career choices were significantly influenced by an unplanned event (Krumboltz and Levin, 2004).
Now consider one person’s serendipitous career choice. Imagine, for example, that you work in the fashion industry, dealing with design and textile. You decide to go to Africa on vacation. The trip is organized by the Sierra Club, which sends you a list of what you should bring, including a 300mm lens. You have never held a camera in your entire life, but you buy it. Those butterfly wings start flapping and the next thing you know, you have a whole new career—wildlife and cultural photography.
Such is the story behind Piper Mackay ’s vocation. “The minute I arrived in Africa,” she recalls, “the magic began.” Within six months, she had returned for two additional safari adventures. Call it “magic” or call it “the butterfly effect,” but wondrous things happen when Mackay is on African soil. For example, on an expedition in the Omo Valley, Mackay handed her business card to one of the women grinding grain under a hand-made canopy. Nearby, a Kara boy named Gele saw it and asked if she knew John Rowe. Rowe, it seems, had personally funded the boy’s education. Rowe and Lale Labuko, a member of the Kara tribe, have joined forces to establish Omo Child (http://omochild.org), an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Kara children.
As it happened, Mackay did know John Rowe — they had met while filming horses in the Wyoming snow four years earlier. Upon her return to the states, she reconnected with him and now has devoted a page on her website to his organization. She explains that photography has enriched her life, has filled her soul, has helped shape the way she views the world. That is why she has the Giving Back page on her blog. Mackay uses it to highlight some of the organizations, like Omo Child, that are making a difference in so many lives.