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Photographer turns camera on teenage 'freighthoppers'

By dpreview staff on May 2, 2013 at 20:23 GMT

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.

Comments

Total comments: 189
12
webrunner5
By webrunner5 (11 months ago)

Wow 5 years doing this. But sure better than looking at another tree shot on here. In my old age I sure regret not taking more pictures of people than I did nature shots. People are WAY more interesting and unique. Nice work.

2 upvotes
Dan4321
By Dan4321 (11 months ago)

I don't get it, most of the photos aren't that great, the editing wasn't tight nor did the set really keep my attention. There's a lot better sets than this. The four shown above are really the best, most of the others just seemed like they were thrown in there.

Train-hopping isn't the safest activity and not really for the faint of heart. If he's trying to show the gritty side of it, should also show the people who have lost limbs or suffered other injuries from it, as well as the graves or loved ones of those who perished while attempting it.

1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (11 months ago)

Um, yes, great photos, but please remember the whole thing is contrived. He said it himself, homelessness by choice. So keep in mind that the photos that at first stir up emotions similar to Afghan Girl, photos seemingly of poor victims of circumstance, are actually snapshots of people on vacation.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (11 months ago)

You got be kidding. Do you by any chances know what a homeless is???? Many of them run away from violent families or don't have any at all. Yes, homelessness by choice, because they don't have better options. You better hope you don't have the misfortune in turning into one of them and enjoy a good "vacation"...

4 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (11 months ago)

Anyone with the mental and physical capabilities to hop a freight is homeless by choice. They and their enablers may not see the choice, but they have choices. They can hop an employment line. They can report their abusive parents. Whatever.

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

Interesting to me how a court, for example, can study the facts of a situation for weeks, months, or years, employing the brightest minds of society, judges, lawyers, expert witnesses, etc., and still get it wrong, yet we have people in forums who snap their fingers and make judgments about what "anyone" in a photo from some years ago can and can't do, what they're thinking, etc.

Humility is obviously not universal to the human experience.

9 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

Adroitly put, Bob.

1 upvote
sfpeter
By sfpeter (11 months ago)

Well, I think Bob and Madeinlisboa should read the Guardian article the photographer is nterviewed in. This was mostly a teenage rite of passage thing to do for a few years and then either go back to their old lives or do something else. If they had choices to do that then they had choices in even getting on the trains in the first place. So it looks cool, but don't have any sympathy for whatever hardship they faced as it was just another variation of "slumming it."

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

If you're Prince Harry, and you don't have to go fight, but you choose to serve anyway, at the moment you are under enemy fire, you're still in a war. It's not a cushy war, or an experience that doesn't count, because you could have chosen not to participate. The experience is real, no matter how you got there.

I appreciate the photographer's comments, but I don't think that the photographer is any more qualified than the posters on this forum to speak to the mindset of the people he photographed, any more than a photographer at any other event can speak to the mindset of the people they photograph.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
A Fool
By A Fool (11 months ago)

Er, does it matter at all to the appreciation (or not, if you don't like them) of the photos why these kids were out there?

Now in a written story about it, especially if presented as journalism, the how and why is very relevant. I just looked at the pictures so I don't know if there's any basis for complaining about the Guardian interview. :)

0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

A Fool,

You fit right in with OP.

Nobody complained about the Guardian interview, and here you are posting a rebuttal to people complaining about the Guardian interview.

This reminds me of a speaker I heard once on Type A and Type B personalities. His point was that both types of personalities often refuse to acknowledge that the other type even exists. If you're Type A, and you see somebody sitting on their porch listening to John Denver records and whittling, you think, "Aha! That person is whittling to hide their true, ladder-climbing personality. They are the same as me!"

When you think that way, you don't have to investigate who anybody is. You just react to people and pictures based on your own pre-conceived notions, and maybe post to forums expressing other posters' thoughts for them which they have never expressed (but which you KNOW, of course), and even rebutting those thoughts.

0 upvotes
A Fool
By A Fool (11 months ago)

You got my intent backwards. I'm agreeing with the comments (yours included) that criticizing the photos because the situation is "contrived" or the kids chose to be there is silly. That's my main point fully made in the first sentence.

I mentioned the story because I wanted to preempt replies saying "well the story says they had no better options but that's not true". See, I'm anticipating people misunderstanding a simple statement or choosing to take it somewhere it wasn't supposed to go. :) I see now how well that works.

I was guessing/wondering if some of the criticism wasn't really about the story rather than the photos, which as I said I didn't read. I didn't say anyone complained about the Guardian interview. And regardless of that how could "I don't know if there's any basis for complaining about the Guardian interview" be taken as a rebuttal to complaints about the interview?

Your first 2 replies here were good thoughtful ones. I wonder if you got stuck in rebuttal mode?

0 upvotes
Danlo
By Danlo (11 months ago)

About the Polaroids, I have NEVER seen polaroids this good. Can anyone care to explain? Are those scanned polaroid-negatives or something?

0 upvotes
Mike Davidson
By Mike Davidson (11 months ago)

"Self-taught, he was given his first camera, a Polaroid SX-70, by a friend, but the images in the book were all shot on a Nikon F3 35mm camera."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/mar/30/mike-brodie-juvenile-train-rider-photos-interview

0 upvotes
Danlo
By Danlo (11 months ago)

Just amazing work. I´ve always wanted feel how its like to live for real.. These images makes me want that experience even more.. I dangerous life, away from bills, day-job and the simple heart-rippingly soul-wreckingly boring life as a "good citizen".

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (11 months ago)

I'm impressed.

And I ordered at Amazon. I believe this will be a classic.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
vFunct
By vFunct (11 months ago)

Listen up fellas, this is REAL photography.

Learn to photograph like this.

Otherwise, go back to your overprocessed HDRs on that disgusting 500px site where all the morons think sharpness and lens-correction are somehow going to turn you into an artist..

13 upvotes
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (11 months ago)

You are so right. I'm so sick of sunrise and sunset photos. People don't know anymore how to photograph new subjects, only the same boring crap and photoshop them, just for the ego....

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Sordid
By Sordid (11 months ago)

But then again, there's nothing wrong with sharpness either.
Please don't act as if somebody who approaches photography from a rather technical point of view necessarily has to be a poor artist.

1 upvote
Doug Frost
By Doug Frost (11 months ago)

Real photography? Are we to believe that only photojournalism and editorial photographs constitute "real photography"? I don't think so. Yes, Brodie's photographs are great, but be careful not to denigrate other forms of photographic art in comparison. Don't be so quick to dismiss peoples' work that doesn't fit into your narrow definition of artistic legitimacy. And for god's sake DON'T learn to photograph like Mike Brodie! Develop YOUR OWN style and YOUR OWN vision! Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you how you "should" photograph.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (11 months ago)

Pretentiousness is alive and well. The reason folks photograph Nature is because Nature doesn't lie, cheat, commit crimes, pose as the downtrodden, or pose as artistic paragons commenting on the state of photography.

0 upvotes
cab337
By cab337 (11 months ago)

I'm pretty sure I've seen these types of travelers at folk life in Seattle. They wear clothes that remind you of trains and they smell terrible.

0 upvotes
lbjack
By lbjack (11 months ago)

Does anyone else see a thematic kinship between this and Avedon's In the American West?

By the way, the heyday of "freighthopping," traditionally called hoboing, was the Great Depression. There's an excellent book about it, Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During the Great Depression, by Errol lincoln Uys.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

Or Bound for Glory, by Woody Guthrie. No pictures, though...

0 upvotes
vFunct
By vFunct (11 months ago)

So good...

1 upvote
SayCheesePlease
By SayCheesePlease (11 months ago)

I agree they are great pictures from a talented photog. I guess balanced view point is everything. Some of these youth are running away from serious problems, some are leaving good environments and seeking adventure.

It just looks so darn uncomfortable. I have camped in the North West US and Southern B.C. It is fun the first week, but after everything becomes more and more dirty and less fun.

Is this Homeless America on wheels? The greater the suffering the greater the art? How much of a choice did these people have?

Train hopping is a necessity in India by millions. Interesting how the activity is the same just a different culture.

0 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (11 months ago)

of course the best photography is always humans descending into hell.. Muslim militias are high on the best photojournalism lists, now children, wonder why? Schadenfreude.

2 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (11 months ago)

Hell, freedom... What ever you would call it ;)

3 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

Bravo Sebastian,, Freedom is exactly what these photos are all about.

Wkay,, what are you babbling about? The kids in these pics have lived more than you ever will.

8 upvotes
SayCheesePlease
By SayCheesePlease (11 months ago)

Is freedom sleeping outside in a dirty box car? Or freedom from not washing your body so that you are dirtier than most animals? Freedom to get sick from exposure to the elements?

I appreciate the compositions, but have trouble appreciating the so called "freedom".

2 upvotes
ATR
By ATR (11 months ago)

Good coverage of a bad subject. Not jealous of anything I see in these photos, and not one bit deprived for having not 'chosen' to live that way either, Juck.

1 upvote
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (11 months ago)

Those photos are really great examples of documentary work that shows us something interesting and relatively unknown to most of us. And the compositions themselves are actually pretty darn good.

I sense some real jealousy here.

This amateur photographer has had three exhibitions and has published two books. Which just goes to prove that you can't buy talent by owning the best cameras and lenses out there. You need an eye for composition and the ability to find interesting things to shoot.

8 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (11 months ago)

I'm wondering what would have been if his camera was digital, instead of film...

0 upvotes
Joel Benford
By Joel Benford (11 months ago)

I looked at buying his book, about 60 dollars in the US and 60 pounds in the UK for 104 pages. Is that what photo books cost now? Ouch.

Not suggesting that anybody is taking liberties or getting rich here, it's probably a labour of love for all involved. Just... ouch. If that's what a book costs, it can't help bring the art to the public.

4 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (11 months ago)

I agree with the price being absurd. What is even more absurd is that the majority (not all) of the yuppie types who will buy the book are likely everything that these teens were so full of disdain for at the time, and just what they were rebelling against and trying to escape from.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Joel Benford
By Joel Benford (11 months ago)

Very striking images.

I wonder what fraction of long term projects like this are by amateurs who just happen to photograph a thing they're involved in, and turn out to have an eye for it, rather than pros on assgnment. As I remember one photojournalist saying about a decade ago, "nobody gets 70 days on a project anymore". I think this project may have taken more than 70 days.

0 upvotes
robjons
By robjons (11 months ago)

ahhh, brings back good memories.
I spent much of my high school and college years riding freight trains around the western US. It wasn’t a “lifestyle,” but it was an adventuresome diversion. The second shot looks like the coast line on the former SP, a great but cold ride.
I have to admit I’m jealous of these shots, very nice tone.

2 upvotes
Sean Nelson
By Sean Nelson (11 months ago)

I had the occasional daydream about hopping freight trains when I was young - it seemed like it would be a cool adventure. But the kids in those images all look pretty miserable. Makes me kind of glad it was only a daydream...

4 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

look again.

5 upvotes
Chuck Lantz
By Chuck Lantz (11 months ago)

Juck: Good call. My own short-lived train-hopping days were both scary as hell, and great fun. We may have looked dirty and grim on the outside, but on the inside we were having the time of our lives. And I can honestly say I'm better for it.

And, IMHO, every single image in the gallery is great. They all tell a story, without needing captions. Anyone who can't see that, ... well, your loss.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
DonM999
By DonM999 (11 months ago)

I wish the photos were captioned, all the best essays are.

0 upvotes
ranway
By ranway (11 months ago)

i prefer uncaptioned most of the time. captions can make an image weaker, distract from the image.

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

One can't help but lament the body of work he might have produced if he hadn't hung-up his Nikon. I hope he tires of being a diesel mechanic one day, and picks-up where this book ends.

2 upvotes
ranway
By ranway (11 months ago)

i'm sure he'll be back to shooting sooner than later. the fact that he's had exhibitions and books and the website shows that he considers his work worth something. i would find it more anthropologically interesting if all this work was discovered by a stranger at a garage sale.

0 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

All hail blood stained menstrual teenage train riding knickers!! those that refuse to see the beauty in dysfunction shall be burned at the stake!!
Their burned corpses shall make magnificent photographic subject matter!!

2 upvotes
Scott Birch
By Scott Birch (11 months ago)

Oh do sit down. I see 5 posts from you about this girl's knickers. Try to put them out of your mind. Isn't there some cat or colourful dessert somewhere near you that you can capture for reverent but safely inoffensive posterity with a fine DSLR?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
11 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

I just wish there was some pics of human excrement as well, it just doesn't seem like a complete set without some poo too!.

0 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

Yup, I could picture you in it easily, in fact right now while writing your posts here.

3 upvotes
NoSchu
By NoSchu (11 months ago)

Actually Shunda77, I know that you where distracted, but there is a photo of a man pooping off the train... so you have that. I'm also glad that you where so moved by his photo's to spend this much time and effort thinking about them. As have I.

3 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

I'm actually thinking more about the people commenting here than the subject matter. Society is an interesting beast and this fascinates me much more to be honest. The endless obsession with 'shock value' art says much about the society we live in, it is done so much that ironically it has become quite cliche.

I see the photographer in this instance as legitimate and completely innocent, the viewers fawning all over it not so much.
It isn't the photographer of the photo's that offend me, it is the narrow minded cliche crap that causes people to gush like geysers.

1 upvote
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

Nahh,,, you're thinking about the period knickers. Back-pedal all you like,, lol.

3 upvotes
Eric Hensel
By Eric Hensel (11 months ago)

Psychoanalyzing your fellow posters...how quaint.

0 upvotes
nacho02
By nacho02 (11 months ago)

I agree... great images. Thx for sharing.

0 upvotes
skytripper
By skytripper (11 months ago)

American values? Isn't that an oxymoron?

3 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (11 months ago)

We are a melting pot, we have EVERY value! :)

3 upvotes
DenWil
By DenWil (11 months ago)

So one person riding the rails illegally photographed others riding the rails illegally. Safer than being a Christian missionary in Iran or N Korea where you go to prison when you're caught.

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

Maybe they mistook the missionaries for spies... an honest mistake. You could go over there and tell them they got it wrong.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
BartyLobethal
By BartyLobethal (11 months ago)

Also less destructive than attempting to replace one lot of counter-productive dogma with another.

4 upvotes
lmtfa
By lmtfa (11 months ago)

Their Americas lost children. For one reason or another this is their station in life at the moment or maybe forever. At least their not those two + family terrorists and freeloaders that came into this country with their hands out for money. The author goes on to being a diesel mechanic and is happy.

0 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

Den,, how are the photographs illegal exactly?

2 upvotes
mule68
By mule68 (11 months ago)

Just to make comment about one or two below... the above link to the original Guardian interview states that his first camera was a Polaroid but the images in the book were shot on a Nikon F3.

I like the photos a lot, btw.

2 upvotes
Bill Bentley
By Bill Bentley (11 months ago)

The blackberries in the hat one is my favorite. A few look too posed imo. But great work overall.

1 upvote
Paul Guba
By Paul Guba (11 months ago)

Nice stuff. Amazing how it never rains though I did see some snow. I often fantasize about being a diesel mechanic.

0 upvotes
cplunk
By cplunk (11 months ago)

Simple reason it never rains, he didn't want to get the camera wet.

0 upvotes
smokeshowing
By smokeshowing (11 months ago)

Outstanding effort. Reveals that special blend of obsession and dedication necessary to produce truly lasting impressions.

3 upvotes
SheikYerbouti
By SheikYerbouti (11 months ago)

An excellent idea for a themed series of photographs. And brilliantly done, too! One doesn't always need a $3000 brick and a sack full of $2000 beer cans to take impressive images.

Today it's probably less romantic to ride freight trains across the continent than it was in Jack London's days, when hobos used to carve their monikers into the water tanks along the railway line to communicate and to stay in touch ... today there's the Internet :-) Still, I envy these youngsters the experience.

4 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

It was a sad, dangerous life even in the good old days. There were hobos who made it their life living in hobo jungles near the tracks and scrounging just enough to get by, but most people riding the rails historically were doing it to get somewhere. They were often migrant farm laborers. These are excellent images and I hope their maker manages to fit photography into his life somehow. Maybe not such an extreme subject next time. I'm sure the life of a diesel mechanic is also rich with visual imagery.

2 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (11 months ago)

Awesome series. Shame he's left photography.

1 upvote
Jcradford
By Jcradford (11 months ago)

He did exactly what Matthew Brady accomplished in his atrocities of the Civil War ... Superb photo journalism for a new generation now on the tracks. it says allot about our times. But I am curious how release clearance plays into this ... For a commercial book vs legit news? Or did I miss that detail?

0 upvotes
Aperture Creations
By Aperture Creations (11 months ago)

a lot

0 upvotes
Leichhardt
By Leichhardt (11 months ago)

Commercial normally refers to the use of images to promote the sale of a product, creation a book of photography or an exhibition of photographs does not fall into this category, so there are no problems, with regards to model releases.

1 upvote
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (11 months ago)

One of the very few times you see pictures worth publishing on this site ;)!!!
What a difference between this work and 99,999% of the so called "street photographers" work ( with their idiotic leicas)

Truly excellent job. The pictures on his web site are worth checking too. Excellent job.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
11 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (11 months ago)

So, you still think it's got something to do with the camera? Sheesh, some people never learn....

0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (11 months ago)

No, poor photographers need a leica to fail on the street :)

3 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (11 months ago)

Sorry, but there is nothing glamorous about the lifestyle. I did enjoy the photos. I am from the same area as Kerouac and believe he would be disappointed if he thought he had anything to do with making this popular. I know a guy who lost a leg hopping a train. Ask him if it was cool. American values? Please. There are non productive unwashed citizens in every country I have been to. Glad that the photographer now works steady. Since 9-11 railroad security is much better. It was needed.

Good photos of the great unwashed.

7 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

I'm just wondering where the words "glamorous" and "cool" came from. They are not mentioned in the article, or by any other poster.

I know that you must have seen those words somewhere, rather than having attached your own prejudices to the article as if they were the intent of dpreview, the photographer, or the people depicted.

8 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (11 months ago)

Sorry, I didn't know I was limited to words used in the article. Hope you have time to evaluate every post to make certain they adhere to your rules.

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

Oh no, please, speak your mind.

I'm just curious as to how you knew ANYONE ELSE, at all, anywhere, in the history of the world, interpreted these photos or this lifestyle as "cool" or "glamorous", because you seem to be speaking to that supposition, and I can't find any evidence.

Apparently in ancient Greece, there were bearded oracles under trees whom the Gods spoke to. You may be carrying on that tradition in the modern world. If so, please continue. The great unwashed will benefit from reading your words of wisdom about things which are not there and nobody else can see.

With me, when I pound my fist on the table and just KNOW things about other people, with no evidence whatsoever, I'm usually full of crap. So, I guess that I, too, am someone that can benefit from your astounding insight into the unseeable and undocumented. Otherwise, I'd have to admit that I don't know how these people viewed their lifestyle.

6 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (11 months ago)

Common ground! We can agree you are full of crap (edit...I am kidding). Please show me where I am limited to responding using only words from the story. Read On the Road which is a book that glamorizes train hopping. It is the bible of this lifestyle. It is a cool book for really cool people.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

I'm sorry, but we know now that at least once in your life you were wrong, when you assumed that I hadn't read On the Road.

I'll continue to believe that you've been right in every other instance in your life, because your being right is a big help to people like me, who aren't able to divine what other people are thinking from pictures of them.

P.S. I would guess, too, that as far as On the Road being the "Bible" of this sort of lifestyle, you're probably off by at least four decades, if there even is such a thing as a "Bible" to this lifestyle. There you go again! Smarter than me, seeing things that aren't documented and we don't know about. Obviously you, Sir, are not full of crap as I am when I make things up out of my own head.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (11 months ago)

No. It is still the bible of train hoppers. Go talk to railroad police and they still find copies all the time. BTW: The photos are also on the Cool Hunting website. As hard to believe as it is some people find train hopping cool. We don't agree but at least we have posted in a friendly manner. My posts are meant that way. I kid you not the book may be decades old but I dropped by old Jack's grave just the other day as I do every time I am within 100 miles and many still flock to him from all over and leave him gifts (combs, a penny here and there, books, writings, booze, smokes). I know a lot about this style of living but choose not to go into it. You can believe me or not and (hopefully) the sun will still rise for me tomorrow. Mine have been friendly posts and I have taken your's the same way. On the Road has been published in many languages and I have seen it just about everywhere from the Alps to Korea. The newer original manuscript is a much better read. Take care.

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

My friend, I may know more about this lifestyle than you think as well. My point is only this: I can't look at pictures of people and know what they are thinking.

Some people might look at a picture of people at a Grateful Dead concert and think, "They're all on drugs, and think they're cool. All of them. That's who they are. "

In reality, the concertgoers might be thinking, "Last show, then I have to get back to school and finish my Ph.D. research", or "I wonder if I have any sandwiches left", or "Who's that fat guy up there singing? I better find out. I don't want to look stupid", or "I have to stay in the paint and rebound if we have any chance of beating the Milwaukee Bucks tonight", or any one of a thousand other things.

People do not end up hopping trains exclusively because they've read On the Road. I'm sure you're right that some people do. But I think you're oversimplifying. Some people just end up on the road, without that being a goal.

P.S. You take care too. Thanks.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

Yes, I doubt most of those kids have given it that much thought. I live in San Francisco (used to live on Ashbury off Haight) where so many kids like these want to come. And do. They are very young and very sad, but some of them do grow up a little eventually and realize life back home wasn't so awful before they develop seriously bad habits. Until then, for a few years they throw my trash all over the street before it's collected. Petty acts of rebellion are what they do. Read books? Don't see much of it.

0 upvotes
digitalshooter
By digitalshooter (11 months ago)

So sad, but outstanding work!

0 upvotes
rondom
By rondom (11 months ago)

one cannot just be an observer and create such body of work: you need to be part of the project. if there was a camera aimed at this photographer during working, the pictures would be as compelling. should not be confused with sanitized and timid homeless hunting on the sidewalks.

2 upvotes
shademaster
By shademaster (11 months ago)

wow

1 upvote
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (11 months ago)

I like the project a lot, however I do not like the ubershopped result..nowadays every photograph has to look if it was mingled by instagram filters. You use a great quality camera and bring it's quality back to that of a hype product like the iphone...

4 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

It's polaroids!! It was taken with polaroids!! .. and other traditional mediums apparently not digital!

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Toccata47
By Toccata47 (11 months ago)

This may be the most utterly ridiculous comment I've read in the last 3 years on this website.

7 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (11 months ago)

Lol, that wins internet seriously. :D

Accusing polaroid shots that they look too polaroid.. that really cant go worse, can it? Im afraid Im too optimistic..

What will be next? Grain on film looks too shopped? :D

7 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (11 months ago)

OP may well be someone who never shot film, doesn't understand that Instagram filters are designed to make shots look they were taken on film, and mistook original film shots for digital fakes.

My first camera was a Polaroid. I won it in a contest in middle school.

0 upvotes
1MPXL
By 1MPXL (11 months ago)

Thats just embarassing, lol. making it look like polaroid wins!!! No its not your fault, its your iPhoney and your instagram account makes u see things. lol! Epic man.

0 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (11 months ago)

A pity he did not keep it as polaroids but as heavily edited images, giving that photoshopped instagram look...a pity.

1 upvote
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (11 months ago)

Like all good photography of this sort, it gives me angst and causes me to think.

0 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (11 months ago)

Like all good and brave photography of this sort, it gives me angst and causes me to think.

2 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (11 months ago)

A deeply moving set of pictures. Pray for our youth, but better yet, see them as people who need our love and care.

The photography is stunning. Someone get this guy an OM-D! ;)

Cheers,
Seth

2 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (11 months ago)

Yes! Let's force the guy into a camera he doesn't want! Brilliant idea!

3 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

Because pictures of girls menstruating are just so progressive?

"the future of art is depravity"

The future is bleak.

8 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

In your world girls don't menstruate? Instead of picking on a little and insignificant detail in the whole body of work, appreciate what the work does: It shows a reality removed from most of us. This is truly unique and amazing work. Too bad you have none of that.

19 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (11 months ago)

What? The future may be bleak for you, but this pictures doesn't change that. There is nothing evil about the human body compared to the heart that judges so many others without compassion.

11 upvotes
skimble
By skimble (11 months ago)

what is your problem, it shows that this young people have not even money to pay for the essential things of life in a modern society. We can judge only when we know why this young people live such miserable live. Excellent series well captured and I'm sure its just a fraction what you get to see on missery of the young people.

12 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (11 months ago)

A little and insignificant detail? I think not, it's the only shocking thing there because we are generally so isolated from these aspects of human reality.

The way she's holding her legs open makes it a provocative shot because of the sexual invitation and the inevitable female flushing that goes with sex in the first place. Clever stuff.

4 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

LOL!! The only shocking detail?! So for you it is more shocking that a girl menstruates than the fact that she is homeless. The shot has nothing provocative about it. When I look at it or anyone normal would see that maybe she is just saying " I am having my period, I have no towels/tampons and I feel uncomfortable". Unfortunately for you and people who think like you women have no other means of menstruating apart from their genitalia which unfortunately for you it's between their legs. If that's provocative to you, you have issues.

7 upvotes
RedValley
By RedValley (11 months ago)

What if she is just saying " I am having my period, I have no towels/tampons and I don't feel uncomfortable"

1 upvote
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

I love these ideological rants, "he hates women", "he hates the homeless" "he thinks the female body is evil".

Yes, it's all true.
Because I fail to appreciate the beauty of the bloodstained knickers of a menstruating homeless teenager that rides on trains, I am the Antichrist.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (11 months ago)

Redvalley - It doesn't matter what she thinks she's saying but what the image creates in our minds.

If you saw someone you know without tampons having a period you would be shocked, to frame that image in a centrefold pose is designed to shock doubly so.

It's art, everyone sees something different. There is no right or wrong interpretation. You could just say it underlines the poverty of homelessness, I saw a bit more.

1 upvote
Tootsall
By Tootsall (11 months ago)

shunda77, you'd be one of those who knocked the penises off of Michealagelo's statues because they "offended your sense of morals". Fortunately there are those who can appreciate reality as it exists rather than wrapping it in sackcloth.

3 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

I now need to add "statue breaker" to the list.
What a wretched individual I am.
All hail blood stained menstrual teenage train riding knickers!! those that refuse to see the beauty in dysfunction shall be burned at the stake!!
Their burned corpses shall make magnificent photographic subject matter!!

0 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

It's not a question of beauty, photography is not always about the beautiful, it's a question of reality. Reality isn't always pretty, if you want beauty all the time, what's the point of documenting something? I think if it were for you there wouldn't even exist history books because of all the nasty war pictures and blood and all you would see. You're just a troll anyway

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (11 months ago)

You guys are amazing mind readers. Ever thought that maybe your narrow perspective/interpretation is what I actually find offensive?
It seems to me that the people that most often talk of liberty understand it the least.

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (11 months ago)

@DPR: Did these get edited?

In the linked article and website the images have a softer palette and tone, more like the image bottom right.

But on this site the first two look a lot more saturated and contrasty. Were they edited for display here or is there another reason for the difference?

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (11 months ago)

No editing was done. It could be a color management issue with your browser, but I'll have a look later.

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (11 months ago)

Thanks for the response. I'm using Safari 6.0.4 on OSX 10..8.3 and a calibrated Retina display. I don't usually experience colour management issue with the browser. Perhaps the other sites aren't including the colour profile in their image display.

Based purely on personal preferences, I think the first image looks much better on this site and benefits from the additional contrast, although some of the other images do suit the lower contrast appearance I see on the other sites.

0 upvotes
wootpile
By wootpile (11 months ago)

Excellent. Just goes to show that it isn't about the gear. It is about you.

11 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (11 months ago)

Good project = fewer comments

2 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

Or idiotic comments like that of Shunda77

7 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (11 months ago)

sad way of marketing something though...

0 upvotes
Hani7up
By Hani7up (11 months ago)

In this enormous and stunning work, the photographer doesn't only have the eye.. he has the courage and perseverance to continue shooting such a difficult issue throughout a long period of time. This is simply amazing. The other side of the coin. Obama should have a look at that book. As a parent it makes me sit back and ask myself many questions and thank God that I do not have to go through such an unbearable dilemma. And that's precisely what Brodie wanted to achieve, to move the viewer.

Simply amazing and heart breaking

3 upvotes
Michael Berg
By Michael Berg (11 months ago)

Keep in mind that these teens for the most part chose this life for other reasons than poverty or lack of work. Obama should take a look at the book, but for the same reasons that you and I - the documentary of people who live outside our normal frame of reference. Fascinating.

7 upvotes
Coliban
By Coliban (11 months ago)

Impressive photos. Brodie's photos reminds me of a book which was printed 36 years ago: "American Pictures" from Jacob Holdt.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Austin101
By Austin101 (11 months ago)

stunning work

0 upvotes
berni29
By berni29 (11 months ago)

Some truly great images there. He certainly has the eye.

1 upvote
krassphoto
By krassphoto (11 months ago)

Jeez. I saw this in Russia, but never thought this also exists in the U.S.

3 upvotes
wetracy
By wetracy (11 months ago)

The power of a camera and someone who sees things! No wonder people get afraid when they see someone with a camera!

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Woodlink
By Woodlink (11 months ago)

i like photography that takes you places, literally or figuratively.

seems these images do both.

powerful.

11 upvotes
Total comments: 189
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