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Vicky Roy: JOURNEY FROM RAGPICKER TO WORLD'S TOP PHOTOGRAPHER




Vicky Roy came from a poor family, other than him, there were six other mouths of his three sisters and three brothers to feed. Getting beaten by his mother was normal, and he was not allowed to play with other children, and while his parents went in search of work, he was left with his grandparents.
Running away:
 In 1999, when he was 11-years old, Roy decided to run away. With Rs. 900 in his pocket, which he had stolen from his uncle, he boarded a train at Purulia, West Bengal, and landed in Delhi. Some street children at the station spotted him crying, and took him to Salaam Balaak Trust (SBT), a home for young boys who have no place else to go that was formed from the proceeds of the Mira Nair movie ‘Salaam Bombay.’
His passion and dream emerged in 2004 while serving as an assistant to a British photographer documenting the atrocious lives of Delhi’s street kids. During the time he learnt several tricks of fine photography besides fixing the tripod for photographer, loading camera rolls, and arranging the boisterous street-kids together for a superior photo pose, and travelling through the streets of Delhi. Soon Vicky picked up photography as his profession. Street life and street kids became his favorite themes. His 25-odd photographs were selected by The India Habitat Gallery in New Delhi and titled it ‘Street Dreams’ and was sponsored by the British High Commission and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). He could sell seven photos at the exhibition, each for Rs 10,000 from which he purchased a digital camera for better photography and is now preparing for his second exhibition entitled ‘The Widows of India’.
Anay Maan turned out to be a good teacher and mentor. He used to teach Roy about photography by drawing a picture by hand and explaining concepts like lighting and depth of field. The assignments took Roy to many places, his life was now lived in luxurious hotels, and he was collecting flight boarding passes by the dozen. He also browsed a lot of books on photography, which told stories of different subjects. It occurred to him that he had a story to tell as well. He was already on possession of a Nikon F80 that he had bought taking a loan of Rs 28,000 from SBT, which he had repaid by giving back Rs 500 a month.
He shot street children who were 18 years or less, and had a goal to do something with their lives. “I had my first exhibition called ‘Street Dreams’ in 2007, this was sponsored by British Commission and DFID that was very successful. I also took the exhibition to London and South Africa and sold many copies of the book. I now started feeling like I had arrived as a photographer and started developing an attitude,” says Roy. Anay Maan called him and put things into perspective saying that before the exhibition he was simple, but now he was rude. This struck a chord in Roy, who promised to stay true to his roots and not forget his humble beginnings.
He continued working with his mentor on a part-time basis and mostly on the big assignments. There was a subtle change in their relationship, Ayaymaan treated him with a lot more respect, now as his equal, and friend.
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