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ONE PHOTO – ONE STORY

26.06.2020

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At the beginning of the nineties, Joseph Rodríguez documented the daily lives of gangsters at Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, using a Leica M2 and an M6. He speaks about the brothers Javier and Mark, whom he met while doing research for his East Side Stories Gang Life in East LA series, and what became of them.

"When I began this project about youth gun violence in Los Angeles in 1992, my twin daughters in Stockholm were 4 years old. I lived in Stockholm from 1987 to 1992, then later moved to Los Angeles to be able to do more in-depth documentary work for the project on gangs and their families; so having recently become a father affected my work immensely.
The night I first met Javier and his brother Mark (left and right in the photo), they were 7 and 12 years old respectively. It was a cool dark night in Evergreen Park, Boyle Heights, around the time when I was just beginning to gain the trust of the Evergreen Gang families. Both the boys were hungry, so I took them to Taco Bell for dinner, and they both always remembered that night.
Unfortunately, when he was in his twenties, Javier was arrested for assault and put in prison. He has been for over 14 years, though he is soon up for parole."

Javier was 12 years old when Rodríguez took a photo of him in his uncle Scooby’s car. The picture appears on the cover of the recent LFI 5/2020, which includes the portfolio East Side Story. It is available here.

Text & Image: © Joseph Rodríguez
Equipment: Leica M2 and M6 with 21, 28 und 50mm lenses
© Lucig Kebranian

Joseph Rodríguez

Joseph Rodríguez is a documentary photographer born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He studied Photography at the School of Visual Arts and as part of the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Program at the ICP in New York City. Today Rodriguez teaches at New York University, New York, and has also taught at universities in Mexico and Europe, including Scandinavia. Rodriguez won an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship in 1993, photographing gang families in East Los Angeles. His work is exhibited internationally.

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