Jason Strother (right) and his wife, Laura. [Courtesy photo]

Readers may have noticed a lot more sports photos in the pages of the Moab Sun News this year—that’s thanks to Jason Strother, the new Sun News Community Photographer. You might see Strother peering through a lens at various events around town, such as Science on Tap or kayak rolling practice at the recreation center—and you’ll definitely see him at Grand County High School sports events.

Strother and his wife, Laura, moved to Moab from the Denver area in 2021. They’d been coming to Moab for years to enjoy the scenery and trails. Both enjoy hiking, biking and off-roading; when driving a trail, both of them like to be behind the wheel, and they’ll often each take their own Jeep and drive in convoy. One of their favorites is the moderate trail out to the Monitor and Merrimac Buttes.

Both had jobs in the tech industry, and their work transitioned to remote during the pandemic. Strother grew up in a small town in Georgia—small even compared to Moab—and liked the idea of returning to a small community, so when remote work gave them flexibility, they took the opportunity to move to a place they’d always loved.

Strother recently joined the Grand County Active Transportation and Trails Department’s Trail Ambassador program as the Motorized Ambassador. He greets visitors at trailheads and roves the trails in his Jeep at Fins ‘N Things, Hell’s Revenge, Poison Spider, and the Kane Creek Staging area, sharing information about safety and responsible recreation. He’s spoken with hundreds of visitors already this season.

“It’s started off great—all the encounters have been positive,” he said.

Alongside his outdoor pursuits, Strother had long had a nascent interest in photography, but it was a specific trip that motivated him to buy quality equipment and learn to use it.

“My wife told me that she had a bucket list to go on a safari,” Strother recalled.

He got himself good camera equipment to be able to do justice to the adventure. They booked an all-inclusive trip in Tanzania, but as it turned out, Strother had more time than he expected to practice using his new cameras and lenses—they’d scheduled the safari for 2020, and the pandemic forced them to postpone it. They finally took the trip last fall, and Strother said it was life-changing. They saw the “big five” wildlife species that make African safaris famous: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and African buffalo. 

Strother kept four different lenses at the ready so he could capture images of animals at different distances. He remembers seeing leopards lounging in trees, and elephants walking so close to the safari vehicles that he could have touched them.

While it was the wildlife photo opportunity of a lifetime that prompted Strother’s serious investment in photography, a different niche of photography has sustained his practice.

“I’m a sports photographer, through and through,” Strother said.

When he was a kid he played every sport he could, he said—basketball, baseball, football, swimming, golf—and he likes being on the field in a different role now, using his camera to highlight the action. His first sports photography gig was volunteering for the Utah Falconz, a women’s full-tackle football team who plays in the Women’s National Football Conference.

“They kind of gave me my start in that arena,” Strother said. He got practice lining up exciting shots, and met other photographers who helped open new opportunities, like photographing college football games. Locally, Strother also takes photos for events like bike races, and also captures images from school games, meets and matches.

“All the parents at the school love the photos,” Strother said. If parents are interested in photos specifically of their kids playing sports, they can contact Strother at his website, jtsmedia.io.

Moab Sun readers also appreciate getting a glimpse of the Red Devils in action through Strother’s photos in these pages.