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Former Annapolitan, photojournalist Jim Dietz dies at 53

Danielle Ohl
Contact Reporterdohl@capgaznews.com

Give Jim Dietz a problem, and he would solve it for you.

Buying a new car? Electricity issues? The finer points of small-batch craft bourbon making? Dietz was your guy.

Dietz, 53, a former Annapolitan and Baltimore Sun photo editor, died Wednesday morning in Atlanta, where he was set to support Super Bowl LIII coverage for Getty Images. One of his favorite assignments, Dietz has worked the National Football League’s championship game on and off for the last 20 years.

There is no official cause of death, but Dietz complained of chest pain the morning he died.

While Dietz was a photographer and photo engineer by trade, he was so much more. A furniture maker, he could tell you when and where and how a table was made just by looking at it. A mechanic, he was known to tinker with his old car or tell you how to fix yours. A food aficionado, he could cure meats, distill his own alcohol and craft a lasagne bolognese.

A father and partner, he instilled in others the same creativity and passion he brought to his own work, those close to him said.

“He would do anything for anybody with a smile and an infectious laugh,” said Diane Turner, Dietz’s partner of four years. “We lost one of the good ones.”

Dietz moved to Annapolis in 1993 and raised his daughters Annalise and Alayna in the city. He worked as a photo editor for The Baltimore Sun between 1993 and 1995.

He moved to New York City in 2012, but traveled across the country and the world supporting photography for big events such as the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Academy Awards.

Colleagues call Dietz a “genius” for his work with photo technology. An editorial events engineer for Getty, he created tools to zap photos from cameras to the cloud in seconds. He made software that helped photographers edit their pictures faster and more efficiently.

His work made it possible for photographers to transmit their work from some of the harshest, most hectic conditions to the rest of the world.

It was in this capacity that Dietz supported the Super Bowl. He and Turner were at the game in 2000, the last time Atlanta hosted, though they didn’t know each other at the time.

“It’s always the photographer who gets the byline,” said Mike Heiman, senior director of editorial operations at Getty, “but he should have had his name attached to nearly every picture for every major event in the last five years.”

This Super Bowl is the first where photographers will use a proprietary editing software Dietz developed.

“It’s going to be a nice tribute to Jim,” Heiman said.

Dietz also made time in his busy schedule to give back.

He constructed the supporting technology at NYC Salt, a New York-based nonprofit that teaches high school and college students about photography.

Dietz was there from the beginning, making sure the NYC Salt studios were properly equipped and the students could archive their hard drives.

“We really wanted to make our program not just a community for the kids, but for people in the industry to give back and get to know each other and meet each other,” said Alicia Hansen, who founded NYC Salt and befriended Dietz through their work, “and Jim was a really big part of that.”

Hansen will be setting up a memorial fund in Dietz’s honor.

In addition to his partner and two daughters, Dietz is survived by parents Dylce and Louise Dietz; sister Carole Domagola; and brothers Mark Dietz and Steven Dietz.

There will be a life celebration in New York in mid-March, Turner said.

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