Off The Shelf: A Period of Juvenile Prosperity

A Period of Juvenile Prosperity by photographer Mike Brodie; Published by Twin Palms Publisher

American self-trained photographer Mike Brodie, aka The Polaroid Kidd, just released his second publication A Period of Juvenile Prosperity. I immediately fell in love with the images of the “travel culture” made up of train-hoppers, vagabonds, squatters and hobos of the past decade across the United States.

So many of us have become desensitized to photos uploaded on Facebook of trips to India, Peru, Vietnam, Morocco, gap year volunteering, all of the far flung places that people have on a travel bucketlist, yet Brodie’s photos stood out as some of the most exotic I’ve seen. I haven’t seen much of the US except the bubble I grew up in, yet that same bubble seems to travel with me wherever I go. The imagery brings up my own nostalgic yearning for freedom and adventure that I had growing up reading Huckleberry Finn or watching The Journey of Natty Gann, that somehow slipped away. I think that is why books like Jon Krakauer Into the Wild struck a chord with a me, it was full of characters that lived down the road yet I never met, and didn’ know I would like to meet until he introduced us to them.

We may migrate for work, travel for experience, or even to chase a dream, but how many of us can do that not knowing where we are going, without a phone, credit card, by land, and nothing but a rucksack. The freighter culture that Brodie features has that sense of curiosity and self-discovery that many of us are too scared to test especially as material obsession and social anxiety take over. If it wasn’ for Brodie, over his four years of riding freight trains, it is likely these experiences would never have been photographed, yet a party at a friends house averages 30 plus photos. While I’ll probably will never make that jump on a freight, not knowing where I am going, my sense of adventure lives vicariously by those who do. By Anna Barr

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