UK-based photographer Sean Malyon recently got the opportunity to work on a pretty special assignment. As he puts it, the project was his “most rewarding job.”
Sean created a series of images for the Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards, which took place at the Odeon Leicester Square, London in March. The awards, which are attended by a host of celebrities and royalty alike, honor 22 young people who have turned their lives around with help from the Prince’s Trust, the UK’s leading youth charity. The trust was founded in 1976 by Prince Charles and helps young adults in the UK get their lives on the right track by providing them with practical and financial support through access to employment, education or training.
Sean’s job? To photograph portraits of the honorees and create a series of photographs that “reflect their lives, from hardship to success.” Oh, and he also had to make them look cool.
This was the tenth time that Sean has been commissioned to complete the photography for the event. This year, he spent four weeks traveling all over the UK to photograph the honorees in their homes, places of work or somewhere that’s special to them.
Most of these young people have had terrible lives. Some have been drug addicts, been in prison, been homeless, been bullied or have mental health issues. I have to be aware of these issues when I photograph them and I also need to get them on my side so I can get a good image of them.
During the awards, Sean’s photos were projected onto the cinema screen at the back of the theatre to accompany a voiceover about the subject. While seeing the final portraits projected during the ceremony must have been satisfying, it was the time spent making the images that really left an impression on Sean:
To spend some time with these dynamic young people, gain their trust and then to take their picture, which hopefully does justice to their achievement, is one of the most rewarding things I do as a photographer.