When Prashant Panjiar, co-founder of the not-for-profit Nazar Foundation, decided to publish Vicky Roy’s “Home.Street.Home” series as the first in the Nazar Photography Monographs, his immediate instinct was to reach out to the Indian community of senior photographers for funding. The response was phenomenal. Within barely 10 days, Panjiar was able to raise more than 50% of the capital required to meet the cost of production. The patrons were, in fact, not limited to photographers but included artists, writers, and Roy’s and Panjiar’s family and friends.
Now, in order to sustain its monograph series, the Nazar Foundation is offering Roy’s book, edited by Sanjeev Saith, at a special pre-order discount, which they hope will encourage photography enthusiasts and well-wishers to invest in the initiative. The book will be officially released on September 27, when the second edition of the Delhi Photo Festival opens, has a cover price of Rs1,000. However, pre-ordering it will allow you to purchase it for Rs700.
Ever since his debut exhibition, “Street Dreams” at the India Habitat Centre back in 2007, Roy has become the poster boy for photography’s ability to transform lives. Roy, who was born poor and was forced to live with his grandparents from the age of two, ran away from his home in Purulia at the age of 11 and came to Delhi, surrendering himself to a waif-like existence that involved working odd jobs, be it in a dhaba, collecting used plastic bottles, or washing dishes, and spending the night either on railway platforms or in shelters where a blanket cost Rs2. His life changed dramatically once he was adopted by the Salaam Balak Trust, and came to live in their Apna Ghar home.
Roy learned to read and write, but wasn’t attracted to the idea of a formal education. He chose the camera instead, because its innate mobility complemented his predilection for roaming the streets. While his fortuitous encounter with British photographer Dixie Benjamin and his tryst with the Trust definitely ensured him a future, Roy’s natural eye for photography worked out to be his greatest privilege. His “insider” advantage, the result of his having inhabited the streets, a territory with which most citizens have a mere utilitarian relationship, has been his most significant strength, and marks his photographs, so that they do not simply offer the viewer an insight into street life and its complexities, but rather exalt in a revelatory understanding of aesthetics that comes from a nuanced execution of composition and form.
Roy’s street shots are vastly different from those by, say, Raghu Rai. Because of his inherent kinship with his subjects, Roy’s photographs function like a family album and play an immense role in the reversal of visual hierarchies.
To order a copy, write to email@example.com or call Navneet at +91 7838-794774. Payment may be made either via cheque or bank transfer in favor of Nazar Foundation. The discounted cost of Rs100 is exclusive of shipping cost.
Hear Roy speak about his life and work at InkTalks: