Photo contest helping to pay for life jacket loaner stations at Utah Lake

Apr 19, 2022, 8:57 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 5:21 pm

UTAH COUNTY — It only takes a few seconds for the calmness to wash over him.

The waves and scenery at Utah Lake give Jason Both an opportunity to breathe.

“It just recharges me,” he said. “After a stressful day at work, I get out here and I just need something to decompress and recharge and it just kind of sets my focus for life.”

When it comes to focus, Both is one of the best out there.

“It’s a Fuji,” he said while taking a camera out of his backpack. “Let’s see what we get.”

He can’t tell you the exact number of pictures he’s taken of Utah Lake, but it’s a lot.

“I think last year, I took 25,000,” he said with a laugh.

Both is a member of the Utah Lake Photo Club and enjoys chatting with other members about camera tips and tricks.

He’s learned a lot from being part of the photo club.

“Got to look at the histogram,” he said while looking at one photo he had just snapped of a rock in the water.

For as much as his hobby does for him, though, lately his photos are for someone else.

“About six months ago, I put a Facebook post out in my photo group and I was like, we are all such great photographers in this group, we need to share our talents further, but let’s make it for a worthy cause,” Both said.

It just so happens the Utah Lake Commission was looking for help for with a worthy cause.

The Commission is placing life jacket loaner stations at different points around the lake. Currently, there are five life jacket stations located in various spots where people access the water. The idea is if you need a life jacket, you take one from the station for free, and you put it back when you’re done.

“It’s like seatbelts in a car — people don’t really think about it, but it makes a huge difference,” said Sam Braegger.

Braegger is the outreach coordinator for the Utah Lake Commission and was excited to team up with the Photo Club for the life jacket loaner program.

To pay for future stations and more life jackets, the Photo Club and the Utah Lake Commission are hosting a photography contest.

The deadline for photo submissions has passed, but voting is currently happening online for favorite photos.

The winning photos will be displayed online and at the SCERA Center for the Arts in Orem during the month of May as part of National Water Safety Awareness Month.

People can purchase copies of the photos and money raised from the sale will got to the Utah Lake life jacket loaner program.

“To be involved in a program like this, I couldn’t imagine anything being more fulfilling about our work,” Braegger said.

The idea for life jacket loaner stations came after two teenagers drowned near the Knolls section of Utah Lake in 2020.

The families of Priscilla Bienkowski and Sophia Hernandez teamed up with the Commission.

Nobody wanted to see another tragedy like this again.

“Being able to help make a difference on the ground and see things happening, it’s very special,” Braegger said.

It may bring a little more peace of mind for a place where many people go to find peace.

“If we can help in any way, just to even save a life, it is amazing,” Both said.

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Photo contest helping to pay for life jacket loaner stations at Utah Lake