Jayanta Roy: A Melodious Journey in Monochrome

 
Jayanta made a series of images during the build-up of Cyclone Hud Hud on a beach in Gopalpur, Orissa in October, 2014. The entire area had been placed under high-alert as it was dangerous to be so close to the water. This image forms a part of the series which was made in a span of four to five hours, after which, the police asked him to evacuate the area. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Jayanta made a series of images during the build-up of Cyclone Hud Hud on a beach in Gopalpur, Orissa in October, 2014. The entire area had been placed under high-alert as it was dangerous to be so close to the water. This image forms a part of the series which was made in a span of four to five hours, after which, the police asked him to evacuate the area. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Jayanta Roy is a self-taught photographer whose job as a salesman requires him to travel extensively around the country. Recently, he was selected as one of the four winners of the Tamron Challenge 2015. He watches movies in his spare time. Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption and Gangs of Wasseypur are some of his favourites.

Jayanta Roy is a self-taught photographer whose job as a salesman requires him to travel extensively around the country. Recently, he was selected as one of the four winners of the Tamron Challenge 2015. He watches movies in his spare time. Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption and Gangs of Wasseypur are some of his favourites.

Jayanta Roy has always been in constant awe of India’s magnificent landscapes. Natasha Desai discovers what lies ahead for the photographer.

More often than not, you will find Jayanta Roy listening to music through his headphones as he stands completely immersed in the stunning landscape in front of him. The first time I viewed his photographs, I felt a sense of serenity and detachment all at once. Not surprisingly, his favourite song by Rabindranath Tagore has overtones of a solitary journey. Jodi tor dak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re, ekla ekla cholo, ekla cholo, ekla cholo, ekla cholo re… (If they answer not to your call, walk alone). This is how the 33-year-old Jayanta prefers to shoot images—alone, away from the madness and with all his energies transfixed on the photo alone.

Childhood Paradise
Roy grew up in the lap of greenery, in the town of Sodepur, 20km outside of Kolkata. “My surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful. I would often wish I had a camera so that I could preserve its exquisiteness through my photos. I was, however, naively unaware of the expenses that came with photography.” His father was eventually able to give him a secondhand Vivitar camera, which still forms a part of his gear today.

Many valleys in Kashmir get cut off from the rest of the country in the winters. But, he finds himself going there as soon as they open as he enjoys photographing the pristine conditions left in the wake of winter. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Many valleys in Kashmir get cut off from the rest of the country in the winters. But, he finds himself going there as soon as they open as he enjoys photographing the pristine conditions left in the wake of winter. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Learning Small Lessons
The first time Jayanta actually started making images was in Darjeeling, when he was 18 years old. His uncle owned a Kodak camera and he loaned it to Jayanta for the duration of his stay. That first roll of film, however, proved to be a disaster for him. For some reason, none of the images could be developed.“The roll contained a lot of important memories, and to this day I feel its loss. But, it was a learning experience for me. Since then, after a shoot, the first thing I do is take several backups of my images. I cannot rest until I complete this task.”

An Unwavering Love for the Natural World
Along the way, Jayanta started learning by looking at Sebastião Salgado’s epic work, Genesis. “His images had a lasting impact on me. To devote your time and life to the betterment of the environment is special. His photographs come from deep within himself and his way of life is very inspiring to me,” says Jayanta.

Humans rarely make an appearance in his photographs. When they do, they are usually dwarfed by their surroundings, as he believes we are mere spectators to creation. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Humans rarely make an appearance in his photographs. When they do, they are usually dwarfed by their surroundings, as he believes we are mere spectators to creation. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

 

It is the commitment to nature that defines his imagemaking today. “In India, we have a lot of human interest photography, and rightfully so. However, I also believe that our country’s nature should be brought into the limelight. This is because no matter how technologically advanced and progressive humanity becomes, the environment is what will prevail.”

The Next Pit Stop
Jayanta believes that one can never stop learning. “No matter how you learn, you should put in more hours practising on your own. I keep photographing the same subject over time, until I am completely satisfied with what I have created. This is a feeling that no classroom will be able to give you.”

Jayanta’s travels around India are not spontaneous decisions. He plans and begins saving up for his trips months in advance. Apart from this, he constantly monitors the weather of the particular place so that the conditions are ideal when he visits. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Jayanta’s travels around India are not spontaneous decisions. He plans and begins saving up for his trips months in advance. Apart from this, he constantly monitors the weather of the particular place so that the conditions are ideal when he visits. Photograph/Jayanta Roy

While he shoots with an entry-level DSLR, his next step is to master the medium format film camera. “I am experimenting with film since it has always been my dream to develop it on my own. It is a kind of magic that is undeniable.” Despite his experience in the field, Jayanta still considers himself as an amateur. He is in no rush and is gradually developing his own style. “I have been actively photographing for over four years now and I believe that one’s journey in photography should be slow. I have miles to go before I will truly be pleased with my work,” he says.

With his head held high, and his mind without fear of the path ahead, Jayanta’s tenacity and doggedness seem to personify yet another Tagore poem—Where the Mind is Without Fear.

He has watched Lawrence of Arabia (1962) several times in an effort to study its landscapes. “The movie was shot beautifully and there is much learning to be found in it, photographically.” Photograph/Jayanta Roy

He has watched Lawrence of Arabia (1962) several times in an effort to study its landscapes. “The movie was shot beautifully and there is much learning to be found in it, photographically.” Photograph/Jayanta Roy

Gadgets & Gear

  • Jayanta uses a Nikon D3100 with the Tamron SP 28–75mm f/2.8 XR Di, Tokina AT-X 116 P RO DX 11–16mm f/2.8 and Nikkor A F-S 50mm f/1.8G lenses.
  • He believes that the camera is just a tool and individual skill is what matters more.

Tips by Jayanta

  • Never step out to shoot without extra batteries and storage. Also, never underestimate the value of taking more than one back up. Technology is a fickle friend. I t is convenient, but highly unreliable.
  • Photography is an art that requires you to immerse yourself in it. Enjoy it and shoot carefully. Running after success will only stunt your learning.

You can view more of Jayanta Roy’s work at www.behance.net/jayantaroy

Tags: Black and White photography, Bob Dylan, Jayanta Roy, landscape, Michael Kenna, music, Nature, Rabindranath Tagore