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Arts & Culture

PHOTOS: Finding Beauty And Adventure In Everyday Moments

the Historical Haywood Bible Church on Moncure
Amanda D. El Jaouhari
Founded in 1859, the Historical Haywood Bible Church is a NC treasure off Old US Highway 1 in Moncure. The impeccably kept grounds and cemetery offer a peek back in time.

Photography became a part of Amanda El Jaouhari's life during her rehabilitation from an injury that ultimately resulted in back surgery. Before the injury, El Jaouhari, 36, said she was unaware of the "parasitic nature of pain" and it was very hard for her to see the beauty in the world even after having a successful operation.
But during that time, a friend who works as a professional photographer visited once a month and eventually placed a camera in El Jaouhari's hands.

On Instagram:

"We started out walking around the historic cemeteries in downtown Raleigh," said El Jaouhari, a native of Cary who now lives in Holly Springs. "The camera became my prosthetic to view the beauty in the world again. I cannot function without it."

Now an avid street photographer, El Jaouhari said her two favorite places to take street shots are downtown Raleigh and the Raleigh Flea Market.

"There is always something new and exciting to photograph," she said, adding that she’s recently also started a new photo adventure exploring  sites around North Carolina with her two sons.

"For me, photography is sorting through the everyday moments to capture the exceptional ones, those exceptional moments that are subtle and those that are grand, to visually write the lines of a story and fill the chest with emotion," she said.

#wuncphotos: Share your North Carolina photos with WUNC on Instagram
Related: Capturing People 'Just Being Themselves' Along NC's Outer Banks

Note: This is the second installment in an occasional series profiling North Carolina photographers.

An covered bridge is across the street and a part of the Ole Gilliam Mill Park on Carbonton Road in Sanford.
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
This covered bridge is across the street and a part of the Ole Gilliam Mill Park on Carbonton Road in Sanford. The new park mill is a replica of the original mill which operated from 1850 to 1928. The park is open to the public and free to explore unless it is being privately rented.

The American Tobacco trail.
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
The American Tobacco Trail is a rail-to-trail project that converted approximately 22 miles of abandoned track bed from New Hill to Durham into a hiking, biking, and equestrian trail. The New Hill entrance is a family favorite because it feels magical and the colors are so vibrant. Here, the sky fuses with the land.
New Hill end of the American Tobacco Trail.
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
Exploring the New Hill end of the American Tobacco Trail, which is managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, is an adventure El Jaouhari's boys always look forward to. Exciting firsts have included seeing their first crayfish and barred owl as well as eating wild blackberries along the trail.

abandoned train tracks
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
Sometimes a good adventure can be unexpected and simple. El Jaouhari's two boys, who she calls Bubba and Slim, decided to explore what was left behind after a railroad track repair in Sanford. The abandoned materials were along tracks off the trail leading back to the Endor Iron Furnace Historic Restoration Site.

passing freight train
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
Growing up in the historic Marcus B. Dry house in downtown Cary, the song that lulled El Jaouhari to sleep each night was the sound of passing freight trains. She says she cannot think of freight trains without thinking of the historic Page-Walker Hotel which was built in 1868. Now Cary’s history center, it is worth the visit to explore the garden and galleries exhibiting local artists.

the skeleton of the powerhouse tower
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
The Old Carbonton Dam in Sanford was removed in 2005, but the skeleton of the powerhouse tower (circa 1921) still remains along the Deep River. The powerhouse tower is a great place to explore, though carefully, and can be easily accessed from the gravel parking lot that has a picnic area and pathways leading down to the Deep River.

Mr. Larry of the Nicholson’s Barber & Style Shop on E. Hargett Street.
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
The influx of new buildings and shops have not disrupted the deeply entrenched barber shop culture in downtown Raleigh. When El Jaouhari's out and about taking photographs, she always make sure to stop by Nicholson’s Barber & Style Shop on E. Hargett Street to visit with Mr. Larry. The best way to learn about Raleigh is in a barber shop chair.

Raleigh Flea Market
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
One of Raleigh’s weekend hot spots is the Raleigh Flea Market which began in the 1970’s. Every Saturday and Sunday, the Historic State Fairgrounds open with vendors selling anything from antiques to produce to imported goods from Kenya. Make sure to grab a bag of Corky’s Kettle Corn, get to know the personal stories behind the long-term vendors, and, if you are lucky, have a poem recited to you by Officer Otis.

Krispy Kreme sign
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
North Carolina is the birthplace of the iconic Krispy Kreme Doughnut; the first location opened in 1937 in Winston-Salem. Raleigh’s oldest Krispy Kreme Doughnuts location, on the corner of N. Person Street and Peace Street, was built in 1970. One of the best Friday night sights in Raleigh is the illuminated neon HOT NOW sign in the N. Person Street shop window.

A Staircase inside the NC State Capitol building.
Credit Amanda D. El Jaouhari /
The North Carolina State Capitol Building is alive with historic treasures. The only southern state capitol building to survive the Civil War, the current building was constructed after the first State House burned down in 1831. A visit to downtown Raleigh should include a stop by the Capitol Building, and a guided tour to check out the Grecian-style architecture.

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