Mike Brodie says that he never really wanted to be an artist. But he’s travelled over fifty thousand miles by train, lived with an underground rock band in Philadelphia and with vegans in Portland, and photographed it all. His images—of trains with the earth flying by, of a tender sleeping embrace—are touching and terrifying, exciting and raw. This work will be released as Brodie’s first book, “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity,” by Twin Palms Publishers and TBW Books, on March 1st. He will also have two concurrent exhibits in March, one at Yossi Milo Gallery, in New York, and one at M + B, in Los Angeles.
What compelled you to begin photographing? Then to stop? And then to begin again?
One day, I came across a book of portraits by Steve McCurry, the Nat Geo photographer. I was inspired, and told myself I was going to go take portraits like him, so I went out in the world and tried my best to get good photos of the people and places that I thought were important to me. Then spending so much time around locomotives, I developed an interest them—the engines, the electrical systems, and how they work—so I thought it would be in my best interest to take a break from photos and learn a trade. I went to school, learned to work on diesel engines, that way I can have a more practical skill, something for my future, I’ve never really wanted to be an artist. Photography has always been a hobby and I think it always will be.
Who are the people in your photographs?
Corey, Blake, Shannon, Henry, Patrick, Rocket, Soup, Lulu, Brandy, Vanessa, Savannah, Harrison, Alexis, Oliver, Lost, Trinity, etc.
What is your inspiration?
I’d say most of my inspiration was drawn from old-school American values mixed with a little punk-rock idealism.
Many of your photographs feel very intimate. Do you feel there are ways in which photographing has allowed you to get closer to the people you photograph?
Yes, but I would have gotten much closer without the damn camera in my face. Three women in the book are ex-girlfriends and a couple of the guys in there are best friends; I just took photos of my life. Lately, I’ve been spending my days working on people’s cars, you get really close to people working on their cars, cars are so important to people and so many things happen in them or around or with them. I should be photographing it.