MIKE BRODIE IS A 22-YEAR OLD SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER, who lives his life riding the rails and photographing the sub-culture of people he knows or comes in contact with. He's been doing this since 2003, and calls himself “The Polaroid Kidd.” Brodie is at home with his tribe of train hopping wanderers. They accept him because he is one of them.

It’s a dirty, rough and dangerous life hopping freights. Freight trains are unforgiving, unfeeling giants—they groan and creak and will cut your foot, leg or body in half without blinking it’s monolithic eye.

Self-taught photographers of any substance are rare. Outsider artists Lee Godie (1908-1994), Eugene von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983), Morton Bartlett (1909-1992), Richard Shaver (1897-1995), Fred Ressler (b. unknown), Russian artist Alexandre Lobanov (1924-2002) and Czech artist Miroslav Tichy (b. 1926) are who I would consider the main core of self-taught photographers known and recognized today. Perhaps it is time for the name Mike Brodie to receive wider recognition within this exclusive club.

I have always believed that making art of real power and substance takes sacrifice, dedication and a single-minded effort to make your art above all else. Shooting real life on the rails cannot be done by a drop in visitor who shoots and leaves. Brodie is clearly at home amongst this sub-culture—and it’s there he is able to uncover and reveal to us a harsh and sad reality we would be unable to see otherwise.

Check out Brodie’s work when it was exhibited at Needles+Pens in 2007.