“I photograph in other parts of the world, but there are issues that need to come to light in my own backyard, Chicago. My current project, Too Young to Die, examines youth violence in the U.S. and Central America and documents both the lives of young victims of violence as well as the teenage perpetrators of these crimes.“
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Carlos Javier Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He’s currently working on the Too Young To Die documentary, which he started five years ago as a comprehensive examination of youth violence in the United States and Central America. The project documents the lives of youth victims of violence as well as the teenage perpetrators of these crimes.
As a teenager, his love of photography led him to work at a traveling carnival to save money for photography equipment and college tuition. Later, Carlos Javier attended Columbia College in Chicago, where he studied photojournalism. Following college, Carlos Javier was a staff photographer for Chicago In The Year 2000 (CITY 2000), a yearlong project documenting the city and its inhabitants.
In 2009 he won the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights: Domestic Photography award for “Too Young To Die.” He has also been a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography and the Alexia Foundation professional grant. He was named the 2008 Illinois Press Photographer Association Photographer of the Year and has also won the Peter Lisagor Award for Photojournalism. In 2010 Carlos Javier was selected to be part of Facing Change: Documenting America (FCDA), a non-profit collective of acclaimed photographers and writers that will cover under-reported aspects of America’s most urgent issues and distribute the work through innovative online platforms.
His work has appeared in Ebony Magazine, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, NPR, Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ) The Guardian, Stern Magazine, the Biography Channel and other publications.