Almost a decade before the dawn of image-sharing app Instagram, Mike Brodie was way ahead of his time. In 2004, at the age of 17—without digital aids—Mike picked up a Polaroid camera and began shooting. Although he no longer takes photographs, his work has left an enduringimpact on the industry.Finding the Polaroid camera stuffed behind a friend’s car seat, sparking an interest that would span four years, Mike amassed an archive of travel photography as he hitchhiked, train-hopped and circumnavigated the US. But Mike didn’t photograph with his trusty Polaroid for the entire four years as it was discontinued during this period. Switching to a 35mm film and a 1980s camera as he continued his journey from state to state, Mike captured, among other subjects, the country’s adolescents who live and travel on the country’s vast railways and trains.
The result was a compilation of honest images of the people he met on his travels. Brodie never undertook formal photography training, nor did he give in to the demands of the art market. He did, however, dedicate himself to documenting his exploration of the American outback until one day in 2008, when, as abruptly as he first picked up a camera four years earlier, he left photography and his camera for good. It was at this same time that Mike was first recognised for his work, winning the Baum Award for Emerging Photographers.
Mike’s work has since made such an impact on the world of photography that trend website Highsnobiety.com positioned Mike’s work from his 2013 book A Period of Juvenile Prosperity among 10 game-changing photography books, alongside Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces, Corinne Day’s Diary and Hans Feurer’s self-titled book. Brodie has relinquished his lens (for now) in favour of a different kind of tool kit, having recently graduated from the Nashville Auto-Diesel College (NADC) and is now working as a mechanic in California.
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