Indonesia’s unlikely shutterbug

Dzoel has no hands or legs but doesn’t let that get in the way of his love of photography.

Banyuwangi, Indonesia – Despite being born without hands and legs, Achmad Zulkarnain, known as Dzoel by his friends, didn’t realise he was different until he was eight years old, when children at school began teasing him about his appearance.

“I found a big mirror. That was when I realized I’m different from everyone else,” he told Al Jazeera.

What followed was a period of depression. He stopped leaving the house.

Eventually, with support from family and friends, he regained enough confidence to go back to class, later graduating from high school and getting a job running an internet cafe.

“There was a photography service there. I decided to buy a camera on credit. I learned and learned and learned until I was known as a photographer.”

Dzoel’s hobby turned into a profession. He has gained thousands of followers on Instagram through his striking images of landscapes and fashion shoots, and his services are in demand at weddings and for school yearbooks.

He also volunteers at a local youth club, teaching camera and photoshop skills.

Not content with being dependent on others to get around, he designed a go-cart style vehicle for himself, adapted to fit his needs. His family and friends helped source the parts and put it together.

Today, 24 years old, Dzoel dismisses those who still label him as disabled. “I’m not disabled. I’m simply a person created in a different way. I have my own way of doing things,” he told Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera spent the day with Dzoel. Watch the video at the top to find out more.

Filmmaker: Hassan Ghani

Assistant Producer: Surya Fachrizal

Translation: Nurfitri Taher

Executive Producer: Andrew Phillips

Dzoel designed a vehicle for himself to get around Banyuwangi. [Hassan Ghani/Al Jazeera]
Dzoel designed a vehicle for himself to get around Banyuwangi. [Hassan Ghani/Al Jazeera]