By Karin Fabry
Around Ocala, Dr. Jamal Fakhoury may be best known for being a loving husband, a dedicated father, and a respected chiropractor. What many in the community don’t know is that Jamal, better known to his friends and family as “Dr. J,” is also a talented photographer.
“I was bitten by the photography bug at an early age and it’s stayed with me,” Dr. J says. “My uncle gave me an old Agfa camera when I was five.”
Photography became a more serious hobby for Dr. J while in high school and college. In chiropractic school, he even served as the official class photographer. Today, Dr. J’s photography equipment is greatly improved from his old Agfa camera, but the basic love for taking pictures is still there.
The biggest draw to photography for Dr. J is the ability to capture a moment in time. And perhaps some of the most common moments to document on film are the growth and development of children. Dr. J certainly did his share of photographing his kids when they were small and still treasures those memories.
Today, his three children range in age from 15 to 19, and the two oldest have begun to show an interest in their father’s passion for photography.
“They might not be as extreme as I am when it comes to taking pictures,” Dr. J says, “but each one of them is developing their own eye for art.
“Photographers have to ‘see’ what kind of image they want to create,” Dr. J says. “Composition, lighting, and camera settings can all change the outcome of an image.”
A self-taught photographer, Dr. J is proud to say that he has fine-tuned his craft through years of practice, trial and error, and extensive research.
“I’m not afraid to try new things,” Dr. J says. “I’ve experimented with many kinds of photography. I started with film, but have evolved into digital.”
He concedes that one of the obvious advantages of digital photography is being able to manipulate the images on his home computer, adjusting color levels, brightness, and other settings. Dr. J also prints his own photos, many of which are proudly displayed in his home and chiropractic offices.
“I love trying new things,” he says. “Infrared, wide angle, architectural, and landscapes are just a few of the techniques I’ve experimented with.”
And being an outdoorsman at heart, Dr. J says he is especially fond of shooting landscapes and scenic photography.
Through his work, Dr. J has been able to travel extensively. He says he always has camera in hand.
“I try to capture God’s beauty in nature,” he says. “Whether I’m in Colorado, upstate New York, or Venezuela, I’m always looking for potential photographs. I document my travels quite well.”
Dr. J recently returned from a work-related seminar in South America and plans to go back.
“I hope to visit Angel Falls,” he says. “It’s the tallest waterfall in the world, with a drop of more than 3,000 feet. Other areas, like the Middle East and Jordan are also beautiful areas to photograph. The old ruins are very scenic.”
Despite his worldly travels, Dr. J still has a wish list when it comes to places he would like to visit, camera in hand, like Peru, Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica, just to name a few.
One of Dr. J’s more memorable moments came while visiting Jordan.
“In Petra, we came across an ancient city that was about 5,000 years old,” he says. “It’s like it just appeared in the mountain — it was beautiful. Petra was a lost city; thousands of years ago it was the center for all trade in that area.”
Dr. J later learned that area was one of the on-location shots for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Underwater photography is another of Dr. J’s specialties. Since 1971, he has been a certified scuba diver and one of his favorite places to dive is the Red Sea.
“It’s one of the most phenomenal areas to dive and photograph,” Dr. J says. “There’s about 120 feet of visibility and the variety of marine life is outstanding.”
Dr. J is willing to go to extremes for his passion. He’ll willingly hike through the woods, dive the depths of the ocean, and jump out of airplanes, just to get that “perfect” shot.
“One time I was with three schoolmates in California,” Dr. J recounts, “and we were climbing a series of nine waterfalls so I could get to the top to take a photo. I was climbing on a mudslide and it started to give way, causing me to lose my footing. I ended up grabbing a tree stump and holding on for dear life. My friend above me was trying to get to me so I could use his foot to climb back to stable ground. Rocks and mud were falling past me. That was quite an experience.”
While he can chuckle about it now, he admits that incident had the potential to become deadly. It hasn’t, however, prevented Dr. J from attempting to get that ideal shot. He will even readily admit it’s not necessary to travel outside of Ocala for scenic photographic locations. A perfect example would be the recent 24 Hours in the Life of Ocala exhibit put together by the Brick City Center for the Arts.
“24 Hours brought the community together,” Dr. J says. “We were forced to open our eyes to places and things we bypass daily and don’t take time to recognize.”
Dr. J says all of Marion County can be very photogenic.
“Look at the trees, the rolling hills, and the horse farms. Anywhere you look you can find beautiful things to photograph — you just have to take the time.”
By Karin Fabry