ST. GEORGE — Winning the Bank of Utah’s 2021 “My Utah” photo contest is a sweet symbolic victory to St. George resident Mattalynn Mason. Her striking photograph of Buckskin Gulch is Mason’s one-day, 20-mile journey through the scenic slot canyon that commemorated her first year of being cancer-free since undergoing treatment.
“After beating cancer in 2020, I couldn’t wait to get out and hike Buckskin. It’s one of the longest slot canyons in the world, and to me, the most beautiful,” Mason said. She works as a dental hygienist and freelance photographer.
“After I opened the email from Bank of Utah, I was freaking out, and my husband came in and was like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was so amazing to win, but it meant even more to me that I won with that photo since it captures a milestone in my life,” she said.
After her long trek, Mason’s photo shows her gazing down the shaded red rock-lined slot into an area with a patch of sparkly sunlight. She remembers reflecting upon her challenges and gratitude about her community that rallied around her when they heard she had cancer.
“Like they say, ‘it takes a community,’ and I absolutely believe that. I had so much support from everyone around me. I drew strength from everyone,” Mason said. “People would say to me, you are so strong. And I am strong, and I realize that now, but I was feeding off the strength of everyone around me.”
To those who are struggling with a cancer journey or are trying to support loved ones who are going through cancer, it’s hard to know what to say. Mason advises others to be there, support them, take it day by day, and help them get through it.
The second-place winning photo, featuring a view of Capitol Reef, was taken by Rachel Ross of Salt Lake City. She received $300 for her work. Marc Vatsend of West Valley received $200 as the third-place winner for his photo featuring another perspective on Capitol Reef. These and other photos submitted in the “My Utah” contest may be featured in other Bank of Utah advertising in upcoming months, including a 2022 wall calendar.
According to Bank of Utah Communications Marketing Specialist Megan Kenley, the ‘My Utah’ photo contest is in its second year. “We asked people what Utah means to them. We pride ourselves as a community bank, so we wanted to showcase local photographers,” she said.
This year had more entries and a wider variety of photographs. “We were incredibly impressed by the images submitted by our customers and friends,” said Douglas L. DeFries, Bank of Utah president and CEO. “It is our privilege to share these beautiful photos taken by talented people from communities across our state. We plan to make this a yearly tradition.”
The public can view electronic billboards with the winning photo along the I-15 corridor from Ogden to St. George. To see photographs submitted, visit this website and visit the Bank of Utah on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The contest runs each year from July through September. To follow Mason go to her website.
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