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“This is Lakeland” Photo Book Issue on Stands Now

It’s beginning to look a lot like…Lakeland. You know, people shopping and eating and reading The Lakelander while sitting at traffic lights. Swans trying to find the perfect gift, alligators trying to avoid getting coal for Christmas and people bundled up in coats made for sub-zero temps when the thermometer goes below 50.

We love Lakeland, and we love Lakelanders, so we’re excited that on the week of Christmas we are gifting you a special photo book issue of our magazine called “This is Lakeland.” Never before have so many Lakeland photographers, and aspiring photographers who submitted their best smartphone shots, collaborated to visually tell the story of the people, places and culture that make Lakeland so special.

This is one issue that we that will definitely stand the test of time as well as Lakeland has. Head out to your favorite local coffee shop, restaurant or shop and pick up a copy before they are out!

Editor’s Note: No Two Moments Are Exactly Alike

Artificial intelligence portraits have officially invaded our planet. Simply upload 10-20 digital shots of yourself onto an app and less than half an hour later you will feel like your daydreams (and some other dreams you’d rather not remember) turned into real life and appeared in the palm of your hand. 

You could be a chiseled model in one shot, a fantasy world viking in another and a regal astronaut in the next. It is the ultimate, “What if?” that takes the idea of expanding your imagination to a whole new level.

Personally, I find it fascinating, and I’ll admit I’ve had some laughs and cringes as I’ve seen my friends’ automated creations, but at the end of the day nothing beats real life.

Putting together this issue I must have looked at 30 photos of the iconic Southgate signage along South Florida Ave., and no two are exactly alike. The passage of time is evident through technology upgrades, the lights hit in a striking way when the pavement is wet and much of the personality of each shot is based on the perspective of the photographer.

It’s all about perspective—from the places we have been to where we are headed—and far too often, virtual reality and social media are filled with deceptively fake authenticity. 

The way we feel about real photos of real people, places and experiences are related to joy, pain and everything in between that is remembered, retold and re-lived. Putting together this photo book issue was evocative because it brought new angles and attributes to things I hold sacred or have experienced in my own unique ways as a Lakelander. I think you will experience some of the same, whether you have lived here a year or half a century.

It was also a lot of fun because it married the digital world we live in and the physical world by tapping into some of the greatest digital photos we could find of our community and getting permission to bring them to life in print.

What you will find, I hope, is an experience that is lively and satisfying, and a little bit different than what any algorithm can spit out on command. 

This is Lakeland.  

Editor, RJ Walters