Stylee Fridays: Talking Photos with Harry McNally of Pegleg

May 08, 2009

To really get inside a designer's mind, it's always good to figure out what they do when they're not behind the drawing board or pinning clothes on a mannequin or whatever. We found out about Harry McNally of Pegleg's photography project totally by chance after seeing his work in a group show in New York a couple of months ago. McNally's photo site itfeelslikemagic is part stream of conscious. part photo study with a rotating record of the designer's visual impressions alongside an ever-growing collection of photo essays that includes cross train traffic (how easy is it to lock eyes with someone on an express subway if you're on the lock track?), modern dentistry and a series of USPS men on the run. Much like the Pegleg aesthetic there's a ton of humor and fun in the images and a very palpable soft spot for New York City. Read the full Q&A after the jump.

When did you start taking photos?

I started taking photos at the age of 14. I try to always carry a camera with me about 90% of the time. In the last couple years I’ve started shooting a lot of film again. I usually carry around a small point and shoot (Contax Y3 or Olympus Stylus Epic). I also use my trusty Pentax K-1000 quite often, which is not as easy to carry around! I've had that camera for 10 years, way before digital was mainstream. It's pure mechanics, that camera.

What made you decide to start the site?

I wanted to do a photo site that ran different kinds of themes than what I'm used to seeing on the internet. Some of the themes occur on their own, just naturally reoccurring patterns in my photos. I also decide on specific themes and then go "hunting for them." Like the "USPS workers" series, I hunt them.

What it is like having your work exhibited?

Having work exhibited is fun. I like to see people's responses but I wish I could hear what they really think. None of the work that you see on itfeelslikemagic has been exhibited. The work I was showing is quite different—it’s still life.

What attracts you to the still life work?

I like still life because it seems less specific to me in the reaction in evokes. It's more of a pleasing image to look at than a feeling/sentiment you get. I recently showed a series of "bunches"—a bunch of extension chords, bunch of grapes, bunch of keys. You would never look at it twice in passing, but when an object is isolated and depicted in a "spaceless" environment, it can appear quite different. I like the idea of presenting something ordinary as luxurious or special.

How does the photography inform the way you design?

I'm interested in aesthetics so I often pay attention to the way things look. Photographs serve two main purposes for me: to document, and to present something in a new way.

There are ton of really great New York moments on the site like the “Across the Tracks” series.

I like making eye contact with someone in another subway while we are both moving, especially if we are coming up on a local station. I think there is an underlying sense of fun and adventure in a lot of the images, and voyeurism to some extent. What you see in a photograph was a real moment in time.

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Stylee Fridays
Stylee Fridays: Talking Photos with Harry McNally of Pegleg