Mike Brodie (aka “The Polaroid Kid”) was born in Arizona in 1985 but grew up in Pensacola, FLA. In 2003 the 18 year old Brodie left home to bum across America, mostly hopping freights. A friend gave him a camera and he began photographing the people he encountered on the road and in squats: in 2005, Brodie bought a Polaroid SX70 and as much Time Zero film as he could find and picked up the moniker “Polaroid Kid”.
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.
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 four short years has left an enduring impact on the photo world, and is now being made available to the public.
His photographs largely depict what he refers to as “travel culture”, train-hoppers, vagabonds, squatters and hobos.
When I first saw Brodie’s work -actually it must have been during the years that he was just starting shooting- my immediate response was “yeah, I was doing that shit when he was still in Pampers.” But then the images hit home, and I realized that only the faces had changed in some 20 years. From hitching around the country in the early ’80s to hopping freights in the new millennium, things were pretty much the same: this doesn’t look much different than the ass end of the ‘Dead tours.
And say what you want about it, but grunged out hippie chicks simply turn me on. Maybe because most of them tend to be a bit more intelligent than their “Bambi” fake-boobed, crotch waxed and Gucci carrying counterparts.
Have Camera, Will Travel: An interview with Mike Brodie, the Polaroid Kid