Leica Photography International conducts its second interview with Pulitzer Center grantee Carlos Javier Ortiz, this time covering the documentary photographer's "Too Young to Die" photography series, a long-term exploration of the tragedy gun violence exacts on Chicago’s streets and the often overshadowed nature of the deaths that occur.
Ortiz grew up in Chicago and was so affected by the young people dying around him, he decided to document the death toll. In his seven-year project, "Too Young to Die," Ortiz explores the obvious and covert synergies between vulnerable people who are often victims and perpetrators of violence. His project also examines the causes and consequences of violence in America’s third largest city and the surprising similarities between violence here and in the developing world. In both settings, poverty, lack of education, poor employment prospects, and easy access to guns fuel the violence.
During the interview, Ortiz is asked "What do you hope to achieve by bringing attention and light to the violence that is affecting the youth in Chicago?"
Ortiz's response: "The topic of youth violence is a complicated issue that has been ignored for far too long until recently. My mission is simple: I hope that people can look at the pictures and empathize with the situation presented in front of them. The photographs are a learning tool for all of us. I believe that we cannot be in real peace until everybody lives in a peaceful environment."
Leica previously interviewed Ortiz in 2012 about his work as part of "Facing Change: Documenting America," a non-profit collective of photographers and writers covering the under-reported aspects of America’s most urgent issues.