Home Page


Please visit Damming the Osage to see our most recent updates!

Our newest books, Missouri Squarely Seen and Ozark-Prairie Border are now available.

Missouri-Squarely-Seen-PDF-coverBuy Missouri Squarely Seen now

Leland Payton has lived in Missouri all his life and his photographs show Missouri as a lived-in place. Old buildings, old men, and faded pieced quilts airing in the backyard he believes are as worthy of representation as Ozark creeks in the spring or native prairies at dawn. All the photographs were taken with a square format camera.


Ozark-Prairie-Border-PDF-coverBuy Ozark Prairie Border now

Leland Payton admits the region where the Osage Plains and the Ozark uplift merge is topographically subtle. Still, he found eye-catching relic native prairies and a striking if melancholy architectural record of its American occupation. Driving the lonely farm-to-market roads he concluded “dawn is kind to bland scenery and old farmhouses.”


Welcome to BeautifulOzarks.com, Internet home of Lens & Pen Press, independent publishing firm focused on the human and natural history of the Ozarks and Midwest region. Through finely printed art books, photographs and the moving image we document, explain and illustrate one of America’s least known but most surprising and distinct geographic and cultural regions.

NOW AVAILABLE: DAMMING THE OSAGE: The Conflicted Story of Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir

A 304 page all color book about paddlefish, prairies, farms & villages, dams & reservoirs, imperial Indians, explorers, slickers, sportsmen, tourists & various violent, litigious & noteworthy events in the history of the Osage River Valley

Only fragments remain of the native prairies of the upper Osage watershed. It’s been two centuries since the warrior culture for which the river is named and who maintained the buffalo grasslands by fire, was pushed west by displaced Eastern tribes and land-hungry Americans. Two massive dams have turned the main stem of the river into huge reservoirs. Leland and Crystal Payton find the tale of these transformations compelling but turbulent.

Click here to buy our books now