Mike Brodie

American Photographer | Born: 1985

Claiming inspiration from “old-school American values mixed with a little punk-rock idealism,” Mike Brodie, aka The Polaroid Kidd, hopped trains across the U.S. for seven years, documenting his friends, lovers, and travels with a Polaroid and a 35-millimeter camera and amassing a critically acclaimed body of images. Like a 21st-century Jack Kerouac, replacing pen with pictures, Brodie rode the railways with a motley crew. In 2004, two years into his journeying, he acquired a camera and began photographing this gritty youth subculture. His intimate portraits, saturated with color and often set against moving backgrounds, capture the reality of this life in raw detail—its dirt-encrusted bodies, sickness and exhilaration, dangers and comforts. After traveling more than 50,000 miles through 46 states, Brodie has since become an itinerant mechanic. He says he has abandoned photography—at least for now.

Source: Artsy


Mike Brodie, best known by his pseudonym "Polaroid Kidd", is a self-trained American photographer from Pensacola, Florida.

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."

Source: Wikipedia


Born in 1985, Mike Brodie began photographing when he was given a Polaroid camera in 2004. Working under the moniker 'The Polaroid Kidd,' Brodie spent the next four years circumambulating the United States, amassing an archive of photographs that make up one of the few, true collections of American travel photography. Brodie made work in the tradition of photographers like Robert Frank, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, but due to never having undergone any formal training he always remained untethered to the pressures and expectations of art market.

Brodie compulsively documented his exploration of the tumultuous world of transient subcultures without regard to how the photographs would exist beyond him. After feeling as though he documented all that he could of his subject, his insatiable wanderlust found a new passion, and as quickly as he began making photographs, he has left the medium to continue in his constant pursuit of new adventures.

In 2008, Brodie received the Baum Award for American Emerging Artists and has a forthcoming book to be published by Steidl, as well as numerous international shows. Brodie recently graduated from the Nashville Auto Diesel College (NADC) and is now working as a diesel mechanic. Although Brodie has stopped making photographs, the body of work he made in only four short years has left a huge impact on the photo world, and is now being made available to the public.

Source: M+B

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Tones of Dirt and Bone
Author: Mike Brodie
Publisher: Twin Palms Publishers
Year: 2015
The images in Tones of Dirt and Bone were made between 2004 and 2006, with a Polaroid camera and Time Zero film. Brodie used the characteristics and limitations inherent to this type of camera and film to his advantage. The portraits he made are further enhanced by the peculiar color palette of the film. Due to the restriction of manual focus and expensive film, that came only ten sheets to a box, each image feels deliberate and precious.
 
A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
Author: Mike Brodie
Publisher: Twin Palms Publishers
Year: 2013 - Pages: 104
At 17 Mike Brodie hopped his first train close to his home in Pensacola, FL thinking he would visit a friend in Mobile, AL. Instead the train went in the opposite direction to Jacksonville, FL. Days later, Brodie rode the same train home, arriving back where he started. Nonetheless, it sparked something and Brodie began to wander across the U.S. by any means that were free - walking, hitchhiking and train hopping. Shortly after, Brodie found a Polaroid camera stuffed behind a carseat. With no training in photography and coke-bottle glasses, the instant camera was an opening for Brodie to document his experiences. As a way of staying in touch with his transient community,Brodie shared his pictures on various websites gaining the moniker The Polaroid Kidd [sic]. When the Polaroid film he used was discontinued, Brodie switched to 35mm film and a sturdy 1980s camera. 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.
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

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