Rapper Young DBoy Low and his friends shoot a video with the help of Project Spitfire, a nonprofit that uses music to help young people break free of the vicious cycle of gangs, drugs and violence. The group pairs young musicians with professional producers who help them record songs and videos.

Too Young to Die is a long-term documentary photography project which seeks to enlighten the public about the effects of youth violence on young victims, their families, and society as a whole. It is an effort to shake the country’s conscience in a way that most mainstream media—hyper-commercialized and celebrity obsessed—no longer do. My interest is to get beyond the headlines, beyond the fear and sensationalism, and create understanding of the true costs that are borne by the victims of this violence, and, in the final analysis, by all of us. The purpose of my project is to personalize the stories of youth, families, and individuals who are affected by violence in a profound way. These stories are not about hip-hop, rap music or teens wearing saggy pants. These stories are about poverty, despair, neglect, hope, love and resilience.

Funding for this project was provided by The Chicago Community Trust via the Community Media Workshop, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation.

For more, go to www.carlosjavierortiz.com.