Mike Brodie spent five years riding freight trains across America, returning with an astonishing visual record of the teenage 'freighthoppers' that travel the USA illegally, by rail. Without any formal training in photography, Brodie began  documenting his experiences after finding a discarded Polaroid camera behind a car seat.

As a way of keeping in contact with the people he met while traveling, he started posting images to various websites under the name 'The Polaroid Kidd', and a selection of his photographs, spanning 2003-8 have finally been collected in a new book 'A Period of Juvenile Prosperity', published by Twin Palms. 

Photograph: Mike Brodie
Photograph: Mike Brodie

According to an interview published by The Guardian, of the teenagers that he met while travelling, 'a lot of the kids I knew have since gone back to their old lives. It was something they did for whatever reason before they settled down. Some were running away, some were out for adventure. It's like being homeless by choice, I guess, but, living like that you learn a lot of American values like self-reliance, independence.' 

Photograph: Mike Brodie
Photograph: Mike Brodie

Mike Brodie no longer takes photographs. After training at the Nashville Auto Diesel College he now works as a diesel engine mechanic. In his words 'a good, solid career'.

We think his work is amazing. You can see more of it at his website.