In what is maybe the most iconic of his images, a young man by the name of Soup mimics Johnny Cash with an outstretched middle finger while hanging off the back of a speeding train
By Daily Mail Reporter
The reality of life on America's railroads has been captured in a series of moving and stunning photographs by Arizona-born photographer Mike Brodie.
Thousands bedded down on the country's train tracks during Great Depression of the 1930s, many of whom had no where to go.
Nearly a century on and the tracks remain alive with some of the country's poorest people or simply those that are enchanted by the romance of the railroad.
Many of the youth who take to the tracks zig-zag across the country in freight trains, travelling thousands of miles at a time and without a final destination in mind
The photographer, Mike Brodie, now 27, spent 10 years jumping freight trains to compile his images, which he has put in a new book, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
Mr Brodie began taking the photos in 2002 and covered 50,000 miles and 46 states on more than 170 freight train rides.
He says he was unable to stop as his life with the hoppers increasingly revealed a curious portrait of the country's youth, which are to feature in his new book, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.
Mr Brodie said in the Independent Magazine: 'I never knew what these photos were going to turn into, what they were going to represent.
Riding the railroads isn't without its risks, as this striking image of a train-hopper leaping daringly between carriages shows. The photograph is one of many taken by a 35mm Nikon F3
Running from poverty or chasing their dreams, stunning photos show what life is like for America's train hoppers who, more than 100 years on from the Great Depression, are still in thrall to the country's railroads
A graffiti artist gets a leg up to do his work on one of the freight trains. Many of Mr Brodie's subjects used the trains as a way of escape and experiencing the 'free lifestyle and American adventure'
Mr Brodie has become a favourite among America's photographic elite, who have been blown away by the talent of someone who was self-taught
'It was intuitive - photographing things near to me, things attractive to me, things that seemed important at the time, but I always wanted to photograph the train hoppers.'
Amazingly, Mr Brodie is entirely self-taught and has stunned America's photographic establishment with his technical accomplishment.
'I learned it somehow - training myself and seeing other things quite randomly I wanted to copy,' he said.
Beginning in 2002, Brodie covered 50,000 miles and 46 states on more than 170 freight train rides. The period from 2006-09 is documented in his new book, published by Twin Palms Publishers and TBW Books
Despite his success, Mr Brodie now works as a truck mechanic and still sleeps in a sleeping bag every night. He still thinks about riding the trains
The journey took Mr Brodie to all corners of the country and through some of its harshest weather. His pictures are being exhibited in Los Angeles and New York this month
Although many of his subjects used the trains as a form of escapism, Mr Brodie wasn't doing likewise.
'I can't speak for everyone but the majority just wanted a taste of that free lifestyle, that American adventure.
'As for myself, I was naturally drawn to go and...check some things out.'
Now 27, humble Mr Brodie is now a car mechanic and still sleeps in a sleeping bag every night and will only start snapping again 'once he makes a life for himself'.
A Period of Prosperity by Mike Brodie is published by Twin Palms at $65. An exhibition of Brodie's work is at the Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, until April 6.