The Winners Circle

Sandra Lee BuxtonHave a nice day” is a phrase that is so over used that it no longer has meaning. There is an individual however that does have nice days, all days to be exact. This is not by accident but by design and by choice. Charlie McDonald has a megawatt smile that reflects his joy and zest for life. He credits participating in an early morning fitness camp with maintaining sanity, his drive and boundless energy. A well know and gifted photographer in Naples, he is seen at high end functions in both the capacity of guest and as a professional “capturing the moment”.

Charlie’s University degrees are in Radio – TV production and Political Science, the perfect combination for this dynamic individual. He values his extensive travel throughout Europe, and the adventure of an African safari. These experiences not only enlarged his world view but enabled him to visualize subjects and locations with an artistic eye. His first work was published 30 years ago in a national full glossy magazine and from there his career took off. He did begin studies with the New York Institute of Photography but this sought after photographer was in such demand that his formal career began earlier than anticipated. He states “looking at light, people, scenery, architecture and creating thousands of images is in a way, a greater teacher than any formal training”. Masterful in other creative outlets as well, Charlie rocked the drums in several bands in the Toronto area and holds a second degree black belt in karate and is a semi-retired karate sensei, in other words a grand master.

This Ontario native began vacationing in Naples as a child and moved here full time in 1994. Grateful for the life that Naples has allowed him to live he is involved in an entire line up of charity endeavors. Giving back and volunteering in this community is a fully implanted microchip that represents his identity and lifestyle. A few of his passions are the Make-AWish Foundation’s annual gala, AVOW Hospice’s Butterfly Ball, Boys and Girls Club, The Immokalee Foundation, NAMI, CAN, United Way and the Holocaust Museum. One event that totally excites him is the Celebrity Martini Glass Auction. His studio is used to photograph martini glasses that have been autographed by celebrities such as Al Pacino, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Stone and dozens more. These glasses are then auctioned off to raise funds for Wounded Warriors, Honor Flight, and the Naples International Film Festival.

Charlie was once asked about his most memorable photo shoot. Without a doubt he shares: “It was at the food kitchen in Immokalee and I was photographing families with small doe eyed young children eating a mid-day meal. An organizer from Guadalupe Center turned to me and said, for many of these kids, this is the only meal they will have all day”. It impacted my life in an instant and I have made my life choices accordingly since. Another privilege that he experienced was to be commissioned to do a Legacy Portrait of Thelma and Earl Hodges which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Hodges Funeral Home. This beautiful piece of art is currently displayed in the funeral home itself. As a charismatic winner he participated in the CAN Bachelor Auction in 2012 and had a fabulous time, and it’s told that the ladies did too. The smile, raising money, professionalism and having fun: with Charlie’s standard black clothing he reminds me of the ZZ Top lyrics “they come running just as fast as they can, ‘cause every girl is crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man.” This Winners Circle celeb can be contacted at

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