Published: 06:00, 22 November 2020
When schoolboy Sterling Chandler was handed an old iPhone to take some pictures, little did he know it would propel him onto shoots working with some of today's most influential stars.
At just 16, the Broadstairs photographer has already worked with Ska legends The Specials and, more recently, upcoming artist Che Lingo, the rap prodigy signed by actor and producer Idris Elba.
In the summer, Sterling was approached by director Tom Dream and People Dem Collective to be part of the Black Dreams Matter project, working with Lingo.
The resulting film and photos were projected on the side of Arlington House in Margate - an iconic display promoting the Margate NOW festival.
Now, after impressing the director during the summer, Sterling has been back on set, as behind-the-scenes photographer and assistant director on a short film for Dazed Magazine and luxury fashion brand Gucci.
The video, named Knotted Gold, was directed by Dream and Arlo Parks, one of 2020's breakthrough music stars.
It was filmed at locations including Walpole Bay Hotel, the Lido and bowls club in Cliftonville and Morellis ice cream parlour in Broadstairs, forming part of a short film series called Absolute Beginners.
Chatham and Clarendon sixth former Sterling says it was an amazing experience.
"This year has been hard as so much of it has been in isolation, so it was great to be able to play a small part in a team again and experience the energy you get working with others," he said.
"Being a behind-the-scenes photographer on this shoot for Dazed and Gucci involved getting complete access to document everything, which was just fantastic.
"I was peering in and capturing shots you’d normally miss.
"Being asked to be the assistant director to Tom Dream gave me a new experience and the opportunity to see everything from another perspective, which was just incredible."
The teen, who has worked with independent music label PIAS as well as global corporation Universal Music, says he started experimenting in photography by taking photos with an old iPhone he was given.
"My mum and dad encouraged me to pursue it after seeing some things I’d done, and it just grew from there," he said.
Then a few years ago, family friend and music photographer Lawrence Watson, who has worked with legendary artists including Oasis, Paul Weller and Run DMC, saw the youngster's pictures and encouraged him to carry on.
"Since then I continued exploring it, investing time and energy," he said.
"I saved up and bought my first camera last year."
Sterling has also become involved in People Dem Collective, the community group which led the Black Lives Matter marches and the brainchild behind plans for a cultural centre in the old Primark building.
"I’m very pleased to be a PDC ambassador," he said.
"It’s fantastic because it brings you into contact with professionals from all the creative industries.
"Just to have the experience of spending time and working with them is enlightening and informative and has helped me to grow.
"It’s exciting PDC has set up here in Margate and the collaborative opportunities and experiences they are opening up for talent in Thanet, particularly for under-represented black talent and young people is extremely valuable."