Through the Lens will be on display June 2 through October 29 in the first floor northeast gallery.

Polk County History Center
Polk County History Center

Polk County History Center will open a new exhibit in June. Through the Lens: Polk County’s Natural Beauty features nature and wildlife photography capturing Polk County’s remarkable natural beauty that can’t be found anywhere else in the state. From our heart-stopping wildlife (we have a lot of alligators!) in places like Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, to the delicate ecosystems on the Lake Wales Ridge, our natural resources are an attraction to many.  

Be sure to read Wildlife Watching and Nature, Hiking and Kayaking when you've finished reading this blog post.

The best part is that all of these amazing photographs were taken by local photographers. Here’s a little bit about each one:

Willie A. Brown

Willie “Will” Andrew Brown is a native Floridian raised in Lakeland, who developed his love for photography at age nine, when his mother gave him his first camera. For the past 10 years, he has photographed wildlife throughout Polk County. Will Brown is also an accomplished prismacolor artist, using his photos as reference for his drawings. These works often require hundreds of hours to complete, resulting in highly detailed renditions of his photographs.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Maready
Photo Credit: Jeremy Maready

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

While most would agree that Sheriff Grady Judd is quite comfortable in front of a camera, he enjoys being behind one as well. He has always had an interest in photography, but a few years ago he turned that interest into an outlet from the daily demands of his high adrenaline job. Armed with a Canon 7D and professional grade lenses, Sheriff Judd hunts for the ultimate treasure – wildlife, plants and landscapes that he can capture in an image to be shared for generations to come.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Maready
Photo Credit: Jeremy Maready

Jeff Spence

For the last 33 years, Jeff Spence has worked at the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, and is currently the director of Parks and Natural Resources. Polk County’s Natural Resources Division develops and implements natural resource management programs that protect, enhance and manage Polk County’s environment and public parks systems. Spence and his wife, Lynette, are nature enthusiasts, exploring the world’s most beautiful places while photographing exotic wildlife in their native surroundings as well as landscapes and indigenous plants.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Maready
Photo Credit: Jeremy Maready

Lynette Spence

Lynette Spence, Clinical Trauma Registrar at Lakeland Regional Health System, has traveled extensively across the United States and internationally photographing wildlife. She is also a volunteer at Lakeland's Circle B Bar Reserve.

Also featured in the exhibit gallery is an interactive kiosk featuring water. Sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, the kiosk features a history of the importance of water in shaping the United States from a national, state and local perspective. The History Center produced content highlighting Polk County's special connection to water, recounting the stories of Kissengen Spring and Cypress Gardens.

You may also be interested in Polk County History Center and History Trails and Museums