Exhibit features Polk Sheriff Grady Judd's photography

- Sheriff Grady Judd is known as a tough-talker on camera, but did you know there's a softer side to the Polk County sheriff behind the lens?

"I'm just an amateur. This is what I do to relax. It's my hobby," Sheriff Judd explained of his photography. 

That's right. Grady Judd the photographer. He said it's always been an interest of his, but became more serious several years ago. Now, Judd focuses on landscapes and local wildlife shots - something there's plenty of in Polk County.

"I can take that camera, put on a big floppy hat, sit in the woods and let the animals come to me," Judd said.

His work has largely been a secret to the public, but will soon go on display - alongside other local amateur photographers' work - in a new exhibit at the Polk County History Center. His work will be up through the end of October, and the exhibit is free.

"We forget about the owls and small creatures, like the butterflies. This exhibit helps us share the beauty of Polk County," said Myrtice Young, historic preservation manager at the Polk County History Center.

"When I'm out there with the birds and butterflies and alligators, they don't cuss at me, don't scream and holler. It's just a peaceful environment," Sheriff Judd said.

It's a far cry from his usual 9-to-5. Perhaps he's found his fountain of youth at the other end of a camera lens.

"I love this job, but it's fast-paced. It's high-energy. Some days, you just need to relax," he said. "It gives you a different perspective on life. It'll help you live to be very old. It works for me."

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