We have had our eye on photographer Mike Brodie, aka the Polaroid Kidd, for quite some time now, and earlier this month he released his latest book: A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.
A Period of Juvenile Prosperity depicts the gritty youth subculture of freight train hoppers and squatters. From 2004 – 2009, Brodie travelled around the U.S. with a weathered group of youngsters amassing an archive of photographs that would go on to make up one of the few, true collections of American travel photography. His work on takes the viewer on a journey that begs comparison to Kerouac’s literary masterpiece, On the Road.
Brodie began travelling the railways in 2002 at the age of 17. Unannounced, he left his house with only a few personal belongings. Brodie returned home days later, infatuated with train-hopping culture. “Two weeks later I was gone…this was it, I was riding my very first freight train. And soon, what would begin as mere natural curiosity and self-discovery would evolve into a casting call of sorts.”
Brodie began to photograph his travels in 2004 when he acquired an old Polaroid camera. “A friend gave me a Polaroid camera I found on the back seat of her car. I took a photo of the handlebars of my BMX bike and it looked incredible, so I kept taking pictures, it was that simple.”
From 2004-2006, Brodie shot exclusively on Polaroid film, earning him the moniker the Polaroid Kidd; a name he would tag on box cars and walls. From 2006 – 2009, Brodie switched to 35mm film. During this five-year span, Brodie rode over 50,000 miles through 46 states documenting the people and places he encountered along the way. “I know almost everyone I shoot,” Brodie states, “three of the women in the book are ex-girlfriends and a couple of the guys…are best friends.”
Brodie captures his companions through intimate portraits set against ever-changing landscapes. His photographs capture the raw reality of his travels: the dirt, the blood, the struggles and, ultimately, a community of travelers who share the challenges and triumphs of life on the road.
His book is available for purchase here