A Period Of Juvenile Prosperity
Since the inception of railways, people have been travelling on them illegally. Historians suggest that the end of the American Civil War marked the origin of this practice, as soldiers resorted to jumping onto freight trains to return home. Financial crises and economic disasters have also led to this movement, as homeless individuals rode trains in search of employment after the Panic of 1893 and during the Great Depression. However, the reasons for train travel are not always so straightforward. Long before cars and highways, riding in a coach without a ticket promised an escape and a chance for redemption.
For those on the margins of society, train travel offered an opportunity to break rules and conventions or at least avoid them regularly. Riding uninvited on a freight train was a small rebellion, and it is no surprise that photographer Mike Brodie named his project documenting 21st century train commuters “A Period of Youth Prosperity.” Here’s the irony: in the 21st century, American railways are becoming increasingly inaccessible to the public, protected by fences, cameras, and security guards.
Despite this, these highly regulated transportation companies remain a sanctuary for many who reject authority. A vibrant culture that rejects authority still finds its home in a system that is based on the principle of authority.
Mike Brodie, also known by his nickname “the Polaroid Kidd,” was born on April 5, 1985, in Mesa, Arizona, USA. At the age of 17, Brodie fell in love with train-hopping when he began traveling by train in 2002. In 2004, a friend gifted him a Polaroid camera, and he began capturing his travels without any intention of becoming an artist. Brodie covered 200,000 miles by train across the United States over the next four years, using a Nikon F3 camera to create a self-taught collection of his travels throughout the country.
In 2008, Brodie was awarded the Baum Prize as an emerging artist of America, and later published the book “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity” featuring his photographs taken during those years. The book was widely acclaimed and became one of the best photobooks of 2013. Brodie’s work was also featured in various exhibitions. Although he briefly paused his photography to work as a diesel mechanic and truck driver, he never lost his love for the craft and continued to create beautiful images.
With the collaboration of Fujifilm