Yesterday I saw his work for the first time and it took me back. As a photographer who finds herself almost desperately searching for her focus project coming across Mike Brodie startled me. I’m a little heartbroken upon hearing he put down his camera after completing the project though (we will have to wait to see if that lasts). Each image so clearly has a story. A story Brodie tells intimately and bravely. As I browse the images, I keep thinking, “For real? This is here, in the United States? Now? Really?” because the images pull up familiarity, but nothing we’ve seen in a long time. Some kind of current Americans, By Robert Frank (great NPR bit on that here).
For a photographer, finding that personal subject, the one that makes you want to hop on a freight train for 4 years and wander around the country documenting an underground group of runaways, is a rare thing. We love and admire images like these and think “if I had only been there back then, I would have shot that”. Yet here Brodie shows us that it still exists. Then things get crazier, parents of children who have runaway have been able to see their kids in the shots and know they are alive. The levels of this project just keep getting deeper and deeper. So today, hats off to Mike Brodie. I’m not surprised he put down the camera, how could another project come close to this one? And when a project is over, it’s over. You know it. At least, despite him stepping away from making new work, we have these outstanding images to reflect on. A few of my favorites are here in the post but visit Mike Brodie’s website for them all or check out his book, “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity”, if you can get your hands on a copy.