When I first came to London Mike Brodie was one of the photographers I really loved. If you haven’t heard of him he spent a few years travelling the railroads in the states, becoming a darling of the art world for his beautiful polaroids of friends and situations along the way.
I was delighted to read in this interview that he is now a railroad mechanic in California and doesn’t much take pictures anymore, though he is doing these interviews so maybe he’s keeping his hand in! Somehow pleasing to hear someone turning their back on the hype.
Anyway a good excuse to revisit the work (most of his online galleries are gone so try googling) there is some of his non polaroid stuff on the interview mentioned above.
Looking back at the work it is the poverty that stands out. There is romance and idealism in there but you very much get the sense that these people are grafting and they have hard times. This maybe absolutely self imposed, maybe not but that choice is interesting in itself, and is something most people looking at alternative lifestyles forget. I think it is the difference between work by someone who is living in it and someone who stumbles across that world. That’s why the work was successful and I think that’s why I’m pleased he’s not still doing it.