A run­away be­friended a cam­era and shot to fame

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Lucknow - HT Cor­re­spon­dent lko­re­porters­desk@htlive.com

LUC­KNOW: He was a run­away, but un­like oth­ers who end up rag­pick­ing, beg­ging and pick­ing pock­ets on rail­way plat­forms, he al­ways wanted to carve a sep­a­rate iden­tity for him­self. And this de­sire helped him trans­form his life, turn­ing him into a famed pho­tog­ra­pher who has fea­tured in ‘Forbes 30 Un­der 30 Asia’ list, au­thored many books on pho­tog­ra­phy and bagged sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards in the field of pho­tog­ra­phy.

Ace lens man Vicky Roy, who was here on a project to film the slum dwellers get­ting their Ad­haar cards, strongly be­lieves that his past has played a cru­cial role in his suc­cess.

“I be­lieve that it’s purely my past that helped me shape my fu­ture. As you see, most of my work is on street chil­dren, desti- tute and slum dwellers be­cause I could re­late with them more than any other pro­fes­sional lens man,” Roy told HT.

But his jour­ney from a rag picker to a famed vis­ual artist was tough.

Born in a poor fam­ily in Pu­ru­lia, West Ben­gal, he was raised among six sib­lings. Since his fa­ther, who was a tai­lor, couldn’t af­ford the fam­ily ex­penses, he was sent to his ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents’ house for a bet­ter fu­ture.

“But con­di­tions there were equally bad. I was beaten for ev­ery small mis­take. Fed up of the atroc­i­ties, I fi­nally ran away at the age of 11 and ar­rived at the New Delhi Rail­way sta­tion where I be­gan rag pick­ing,” he rec­ol­lected.

He also worked as a dish­washer at a road­side eatery. But the turn­ing point came when he was picked by NGO ‘Salaam Balak Trust’, which is run with the mis­sion to re­ha­bil­i­tate street chil­dren.

He had a chance en­counter with a cam­era dur­ing a pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop or­ga­nized by the trust for street chil­dren. “I be­gan as­sist­ing a pho­tog­ra­pher, who was a men­tor and helped me learn cam­era tricks and pho­tog- ra­phy tech­niques. I then de­cided to pur­sue a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phy course un­der the guid­ance of renowned In­dian pho­tog­ra­pher OP Sharma,” he added.

‘Home Street Home’—his first mono­graph that be­came a big hit, was pub­lished by Nazar Foun­da­tion and re­leased at the sec­ond edi­tion of the Delhi Photo Fes­ti­val (Sept-Oct, 2013). He was awarded the MIT Me­dia Fel­low­ship in 2014. “But shoot­ing my sub­jects (those liv­ing on the streets) was not easy. I had to spend hours with them to un­der­stand them and win their con­fi­dence and then came a day when they al­lowed me to shoot,” he added.

He said he was re­ally thank­ful to the NGO that helped him pur­sue his goal as a pho­tog­ra­pher, which in turn gave him an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing for the less un­for­tu­nate.

Roy has bagged many awards and recog­ni­tions, in­clud­ing Neel Don­gre Grant for Ex­cel­lence in Pho­tog­ra­phy, Na­tional Geo­graphic Mis­sion Cover Shot TV Show, INK Fel­low­ship and In­ter­na­tional Award for Young Peo­ple, In­dia. Some of his pub­li­ca­tions are, ‘The World At­las of Street Pho­tog­ra­phy’ pub­lished by Yale Univer­sity Press, ‘Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Pho­tog­ra­phy from In­dia, Pak­istan and Bangladesh’, pub­lished by Steidi Ver­lag, bilin­gual edi­tion, ‘Click I Con­tem­po­rary Pho­tog­ra­phy in In­dia’ and oth­ers.

In Luc­know, Roy will film slum dwellers get­ting their Aad­har card made.

It is part of a project un­der which an NGO, Save Chil­dren, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the state gov­ern­ment will pro­vide iden­tity proof to slum dwellers. Un­der the project, Roy will cover five states and 10 ci­ties, in­clud­ing Luc­know, Agra, Mu­gal­sarai, Al­la­habad and Kan­pur in UP.

A shot cap­tured by Vicky Roy and (right) the ace pho­tog­ra­pher.

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