[Watch/Read] Journey From A Rag Picker To Becoming A Celebrity Photographer
September 28th, 2015
Source : INKtalks
Stories of rags to riches continue to inspire millions and in a country like India where there is no dearth of ideas, we draw inspiration from someone who has started off with nothing and has achieved something more than money.
We are talking about Vicky Roy who passed and witnessed some of the turbulent times. He was born into a poor family in Purulia district of West Bengal. Today he is an accomplished photographer.
At the age of 11, Vicky ran away from his home with 700-800 rupees which he took from his uncle’s pocket and came to Delhi in 1999. There he narrated his story to the children who were working at the platform, with whom he joined to work as a rag picker. He used to collect used bottles which he filled to sell in general compartment at the meagre amount of Rs 5.
Despite having worked at the railway station, he did not have sufficient amount of income as the hoodlums at every platform snatch away his hard earned money. Since an income was required to earn bread, he went in search of a job. Since he has never seen Lal Quila, Qutub Minar, he took up the job at a restaurant as a dish-washer.
From there he was picked up by one of the volunteer of Salaam Balak trust, an NGO founded by Mira Nair after her movie, Salaam Bombay became a huge hit. At the NGO he started studying but scored only 48% in class X after which Vicky was advised by his teacher to take up something else and that was the turning point in his life.
Travel being the centre point of his interest, drew him to photography. The trust was visited by a British photographer who explained everything to Vicky in English which he could not understood. In 2004, when the photographer was returning, Vicky was accompanied by his friend who acted as a translator for him.
Vicky asked that since he is not eloquent in English, could it be a major hindrance in becoming a professional photographer to which the photographer replied that the great Chinese, and Japanese photographers too don’t speak good English, but is good at photography. The photographer further advised him to speak in Hindi as he is an Indian.
By this time the trust had got another mentor who was a portrait specialist and Vicky assisted him. In 2007, he did his first solo show called ‘street dreams’ where he chose under 18 year old kids. The idea came to his mind because he too has spent a considerable amount of time at the streets with few dreams in his pocket. He got a kid whose name was also Vicky and the kid used to come to Vicky’s shelter home in the morning and left by evening because he had to sell balloons. His exhibition took the rounds of South Africa, US and Vietnam. At this stage, he was 19.
He was suggested to take part in a photography competition of an international repute and was looking for young photographers. Vicky was selected but was asked to get some pictures of construction.
After this he returned back to Delhi and took the pictures of cranes used in the construction of metro rail. However, these pictures were disliked by his mentor who advised him to click pictures which could portray the image of Indian construction site, for ex: a baby holding his mother’s saree while she is working.
Vicky clicked the pictures and was selected at a level where two were selected from US, one from Hong-Kong and he from India.
After having a successful start, he went to America and studied photography at International Centre of Photography. He was even two hours of time to click the pictures of reconstruction of World Trade Centre. He did his second solo show in 2009 called ‘WTC Now’.
He was even associated with a project called ‘Apna Ghar’.
Vicky is even the recipient of Duke of Edinburgh for which he was invited to London where he went to Buckingham and had lunch with Prince Edward.
He along with his friend Chandan, started a photo-library as the books on photography are priced too high. The library through donations now has as many as 700 books and is often visited by reputed photographers. The books have been donated by photographers. Tours are also organised by Vicky and his friend.
The inspirational story of Vicky Roy will inspire millions of youngsters who with their will may achieve reach the peak of glory. It is still an inspirational story as the boy, Vicky could have chosen a short cut but struggled and walked on the razor’s edge to achieve big.