Black Excellence: The 17-Year-Old Photographer Who Just Made History With British GQ

As there is no limit to what you can achieve in life, age is not a determining factor for success. 

Sterling Chandler makes history as the youngest photographer to have their work featured in British GQ.

For Chandler, his family wasn’t the only ones who supported his vision for photography. After a family friend’s approval, he decided to not only keep chasing his dreams, but to start saving money for a camera.

“I started off experimenting, taking photos with an old iPhone I was given, and my mum and dad encouraged me to pursue it after seeing some things I’d done, and it just grew from there,” Chandler tells reporters. “Then a few years ago, family friend photographer Lawrence Watson saw some of my pictures and was very encouraging, and since then, I continued exploring it, investing time and energy.”

In 2020, Chandler purchased his camera and began his journey as a photographer by running social media for a music initiative by the name of Love Record Stores.

That same initiative brought in more than 1 million euros for record shops in the U.K., and it also helped to broaden Chandler’s career aspirations as he began to have work featured in publications like The Independent and BBC News.

To date, he also has an assistant director credit for a mini film series with Gucci for Dazed and now he can check GQ Magazine off of the list.

With credit to his passion, dedication, and hard work, the London native has secured gigs with popular musicians which include Che Lingo and The Specials. He also has worked with Universal Music Group artists specializing in photography and digital marketing.

It was work like this that afforded Chandler the opportunity to work with GQ after his work with The Specials was noticed by director Tom Dream.

Not only does he now have work that was included in the January/February 2021 issue of British GQ Magazine and the GQ Men of the Year Awards virtual ceremony, he was just 16 at the time of the shoot.

Now, Chandler’s images sit alongside award-winning, historic photographers like Misan Harriman, the first Black man to ever shoot a British Vogue cover.

Recently, because of that same gig with The Specials back in 2019, Chandler was selected as an ambassador for People Dem Collective (PDC), which is an initiative that focuses on media inclusion for people within the Black, brown, and diaspora communities.

 “I’m very pleased to be a People Dem Collective ambassador. It’s fantastic because it brings you into contact with professionals from all the creative industries,” expressed Chandler. “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 have set up here in the UK, and the collaborative opportunities and experiences they are opening up for young talent, particularly for under-represented Black talent and young people, is extremely valuable.”

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