If you compiled the number of miles you traveled over the past 10 years, you would most probably exceed 50,000 miles. Mike Brodie did, too, but he did it through walking, hitchhiking and train hopping. He was only 17 when he boarded the wrong train and ended up in the opposite direction of his hometown, Pensacola, Florida. This event led him to explore train hopping more thoroughly since then.
Over the last 10 years, he has been to over 46 states in the US. I imagine he came across some interesting characters along the way aboard the 170 freight trains he ‘hopped’ on. He began his journey in 2002, but he only started documenting his tales in 2004, after stumbling upon a Polaroid camera hidden behind a friend’s belongings. The images he captured garnered some attention online, which earned him the nickname, “The Polaroid Kid.” Unfortunately, Polaroid film was discontinued shortly after, so Brodie opted to use 35mm film on a different camera instead.
Brodie has amassed a remarkable collection of photographs considering he has never undergone any formal training in the art industry. His body of work over the four years he spent traveling has been published in a new book called A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.
It’s always interesting to see the results of people who just decide to pick up a camera one day and shoot because there’s minimal fuss; no dilemma over which lens to use or what your white balance settings should be.
I’m not too familiar with the subculture, but I enjoyed seeing Brodie’s narrative style. Some of these photos are quite good, in my opinion, and more importantly, they feel very real. I don’t think I’ll be hopping on trains anytime soon, but I do appreciate the novelty of traveling without a destination in mind.
Don’t hold your breath for the next installment of his adventures because he is no longer pursuing photography. He writes on his website:
Brodie recently graduated from the Nashville Auto Diesel College (NADC) and is now working as a mobile diesel mechanic in his silver ’93 Dodge Ram. Although he has stopped making photographs, the body of work he made in four short intense years has left an enduring impact on the photo world.