Tyler MacDonald is not only a remarkable photographer, he’s a remarkable 16 year old. A junior at Lely High School, Tyler’s fascination with cameras began around age 10. That fascination developed into a passion, and now the young Marco Island artist is not only selling his work at local art shows, he’s also a show organizer.
I first met Tyler at his very first art festival appearance – the 2009 Left Bank Art Fest held at the Esplanade on Marco – he was 13. Today he’s the event’s chairperson. Then, as now, his photographs create awe: wholly original images of scenes we might never see otherwise.
Recently, I asked him if there was a particular mentor who helped bring him to this level of accomplishment.” Not really,” he answered, “My family has always taken pretty exotic vacations, and my parents were always encouraging me.” And there, beside him, at Left Bank 2012, was his mother Priscilla. Warm, friendly and informative when queried, but without ever stepping in front of her son. Judging by the crowd around his booth, it was easy to see why a little back-up was needed. He’s that good.
The MacDonalds are long time Island residents; Tyler’s father, Richard, has been an executive chef here for over 40 years. Richard and Priscilla were both with Tyler in 2011 when the City of Marco Island’s Arts Advisory Committee awarded him the inaugural Arts Afire Flame Award for emerging artist. The entire ballroom at Island Country Club burst into applause.
Many of Tyler’s images come from his extensive diving experiences, including flashlight-lit underwater caves in North Florida and the vibrant reefs off the Florida Keys. “On one expedition there were thousands of stinging jellyfish covering the water’s surface, I just had to jump in to see if I could capture this amazing phenomenon.” The results were stunning (as opposed to stinging!)
Tyler’s work moves above the water’s surface to capture mighty images of wildlife. He has twice garnered national awards from the National Wildlife Federation. I applaud their choice.
Find him, follow him, on his web-site and at regional art exhibits. www.tylerswildphotos.com
Upcoming Left Bank Art Fests, sponsored by the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts, www.marcoarts.org: Sundays, February 11, and March15, free to public.
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors’ Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. Contact her through www.tarao gallery.com