Staff photo by Allison Breiner Potter
Ned Leary shows Lauren Semple the images he photographed of her dog, Cheech, for his 2011 Loop Dog Calendar on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Wrightsville Beach Food Mart.
Anyone who was alive the day World War II ended remembers it. But for those of us who weren’t yet a part of the world, Aug. 14, 1945, has been illustrated for us through the most famous photograph in the world. Taken that day by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt is the shot of a sailor kissing a nurse in New York’s Times Square. For us, the photograph tells it all.
This, Wrightsville Beach photographer Ned Leary said, is what he attempts to do with each shot he takes.
"If it doesn’t grab you, I’m not interested," Leary said of his work. "I like for it to grab people and have an emotional reaction."
Leary, a North Carolina native, was born in Edenton, spent his school years in Virginia and returned to Carolina to attend MBA school at Wake Forest University for a marketing degree. His degree earned him a place in Winston-Salem, N.C., working in the corporate world for RJ Reynolds.
After 20 years, in 2003, Leary retired from Reynolds as president of Sports Marketing Enterprising. While he was still residing in Winston-Salem, he began to visit a place he would later call home.
With a girlfriend who owned a place on Wrightsville Beach, Leary began his love affair with this part of the Carolina coast. And when, like many relationships, his love for the girl faded, Leary decided to buy a place of his own in Wrightsville. He put his home in Winston-Salem on the market. It sold a day later and the rest is history.
As a retiree, Leary took on a hobby—the No. 1 hobby in the world, Leary noted—photography.
"I’ve always had a camera," Leary said. Upon moving, Leary bought his first DSLR-D70 (an entry-level professional camera) at Best Buy on College Road and began experimenting, capturing the dramatic images of his first love—nature.
His photos shocked him, evoked emotion, and his friends agreed his work was good. So Leary indulged himself in photography books and signed up for workshops.
Five cameras later, in 2009, Leary opened up shop for business and within just a year’s time, his unique shots of Wrightsville were illustrated around the town, like his 44 Ways—a poster composed of shots of each public beach access; "Called to Sea"—a photographic narrative of loggerhead sea turtles; and his 2010 Loop Dog Calendar featuring 85 local dogs.
He has no idea where the calendar came from.
He said, "One day it was in my head."
And he allowed this serendipity to push his photography further.
Though his subjects are four-legged creatures, Leary said he tries to evoke the same emotion that’s illustrated in the WWII homecoming photo with the dogs.
"It’s a lot easier to shoot dogs than people. They always think their hair looks fine," he joked. "If you show any dog owner this calendar, they all have one question: how do I get my dog in there?"
And Leary knows how much it means to the dog owners because he is one of them. Last year he featured his Labradors, May and Bella, in his Loop Dog Calendar and again this time around.
Other dogs posed last weekend at the Wrightsville Beach Food Mart where Leary admitted that 365 days of the year, "I like to have a little fun at all times."