The story of the Polaroid Kidd is pretty cool/mysterious - in 2003, Mike Brodie, a self-taught photographer from Pensocola, FL, set out riding the rails of America, hanging with hobos, punks, and other young folk, hopping trains and living in squats and exploring a world not many of us get to see, all the while taking beautiful photos of the experience, exclusively with the classic SX-70 Polaroid camera a friend passed along to him.
It seems that, since 2007, he’s disappeared from view, deciding he was done with photography. After a ton of acclaim and shows, including showing work at the Paris International Photo Fair at the Louve, winning the Baum Award for American Emerging Artists, and a supposed photo book to be published by Steidl(that apparently never came to be), he stopped taking photos. In the four years he took photos though, he created an incredible body of work, capturing a group of people at a distinct time and place, with a great balance of curiosity and respect.
At last report, Brodie received his degree from the Nashville Auto Diesel College, and works as a Diesel Mechanic.
Re: where he went, and stopping photography cold turkey, someone on a message board had a nice way of looking at it: “ I’ve been wondering since 2007 where he has gone? no shows, no sites, no contact, no new works, nothing. Like a ghost. My guess is that since it was unintentional to be a “photographer” and exhibit his work in the first place, he sold his work, did some shows and just moved on to life’s next adventure minus a camera.”
Mike, great work. And here’s to the next adventure.
This photo is from some of my travels with the Polaroid Kidd, Mike Brodie. He just released his first book, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, and it is amazing. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy.
Photography by Mike Brodie (his site). As described in his collection, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (Amazon listing):
Brodie spent years crisscrossing the U.S. amassing a collection, now appreciated as one of the most impressive archives of American travel photography. When asked about his approach to travel and photography Brodie has said, “sometimes I take a train the wrong way or…whatever happens a photo will come out of it, so it doesn’t really matter where I end up.”
In 2003 Brodie left home at 18 to travel the rails across America. A friend gave him a camera and he found himself spending three years photographing the friends and companions he encountered with the Polaroid SX-70. Polaroid discontinued SX-70 film, so now he shoots on 35mm on a Nikon F3.
His photographs have been featured in exhibits in Milwaukee, at Get This! Gallery in Atlanta and in Los Angeles at M+B Gallery.His work was also selected to appear in the 2006 edition of the Paris International Photo Fair at the Louvre. In November 2007 he collaborated with Swoon and Chris Stain to mount an installation at Gallery LJ Beaubourg in Paris. He also has had collaborative shows with artist Monica Canilao.
His photographs largely depict what he refers to as "travel culture”, train-hoppers, vagabonds, squatters and hobos.
Critic Vince Aletti of artsandantiques.net says of Brodie’s work: “Even if you’re not intrigued by Brodie’s ragtag bohemian cohort—a band of outsiders with an unerring sense of post-punk style—the intimate size and warm, slightly faded color of his prints are seductive. His portraits…..have a tender incisiveness that is rare at any age.”
i wanna live in a little shack made of shit i just hammered together in the middle of the woods. somewhere where there’s mountains and the ocean, like if i could just move east tennessee to the coast, and have a couple horses and a perfect manly man and we could make moonshine and play bluegrass and grow our own food and raise chickens, god that would be heavenly.