HAINES CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is an avid photographer. It’s his favorite hobby outside of his job.
Judd loves taking landscape and wildlife photos.
“I really, really love my photography,” Judd said. “It’s kind of the 180 degree opposite of what I do for a living.”
When he’s not keeping the residents of Polk County safe and putting the bad guys behind bars, Judd loves being outdoors.
“I live on a lake where there’s a great deal of wildlife and nature,” he said. “I can photograph on the weekends.”
The sheriff said he enjoyed photography as a young man. Later in life, he started pursuing this passion again after a visit to his doctor’s office.
“He said, well do you like your job?” Judd said. “I said, I love it. He said, you want to do it a long time? I said yes. He said you need a distraction. I said, I’m OK. He said your body’s getting old. You need a distraction.”
The sheriff’s exhibit includes many photos taken close to home.
“These photographs were taken on the east side of the county,” Judd said. “The owls, they’re shot on the wooded area near Lake Pierce.”
There are also plenty of photos from his travels across the country, like one of a waterfall in Colorado.
“It wasn’t like just easy to get to,” he said. “You had to climb up and down and through the rocks, but it’s beautiful.”
The Haines City Community Redevelopment agency is honored to open the new Lake Eva Gallery with the sheriff’s artwork on display.
“They’re going to see his beautiful nature photography,” CRA Manager Jane Murphy said. “He’s pretty well-known in the arts community for the other side of the sheriff, the softer side, if that’s possible, right.”
Murphy said her favorite photo by the sheriff is of a lighthouse from one of his trips.
“It’s breathtaking,” she said. “It’s postcard perfect.”
Judd told News Channel 8 he never misses the opportunity to photograph a red cardinal because that was his mother’s favorite bird.
“In her final days, she had a red cardinal that would come to the window every morning,” Judd said.
Judd’s photography will be on display at the Lake Eva Gallery until the second week of December. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.