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Track record

A gallery of photographs by Mike Brodie

In 2004, at the age of 17, Mike Brodie picked up a Polaroid SX-70 camera from the back seat of a friend’s car, launching a four-year visual odyssey that would take him from Pensacola, Florida, to Olympia, Washington. He began documenting moments in the lives of the itinerant adolescents who found their footing on freight trains, riding the rails with them, slowly earning their trust. Brodie came to be known as The Polaroid Kidd, but when the film he used was phased out of production, he switched to a 1980s Nikon and 35mm film. The self-taught photographer captures the restless drift and raw intimacy of his train-hopping cohorts with tender images that underscore their haunting humanity. His work endures in A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (2013) and this year’s Tones of Dirt and Bone. Brodie now lives in California and works as a diesel mechanic. ■


“We took what we could get to make it through one more day or to get to the next town. You develop close bonds on the road because that’s all you got.” 

—Mike Brodie, Los Angeles Times (2013)



























“In my heart I do not feel like a photographer. I don’t know if I ever have. But what I’ve always felt like is a railroader.”

—Mike Brodie, NPR (2013)