Jim Dietz first picked up a camera as an Ottawa High School student where he shot pictures for the school’s newspaper and yearbook.
That love for photography would take him all over the world as a photojournalist for the Associated Press and Getty Images.
Dietz, whose parents, Dylce and Louise Dietz, still live in Ottawa, died unexpectedly Jan. 30 while in Atlanta covering Super Bowl LIII. The cause of death is still undetermined.
Dietz is remembered by colleagues as a genius both as a photographer and for his innovation with photo technology. Ken Mainardis, Senior Vice President, Global Editorial for Getty Images released this statement shortly after his death.
“We are devastated to confirm the death of our revered colleague, Jim Dietz, who died suddenly this week. Jim has been with Getty Images for five years, based in New York; however, he is well-respected in the editorial world and has worked with and known many of us for much longer. The word ‘genius’ is one thrown around casually, particularly in the technology space, but it is hard to measure just how much Jim brought to the Getty Images team by way of competitive advantage. His ability to hook up the most difficult locations with unfeasibly large amounts of bandwidth, usually via innovative wireless technologies, genuinely blew the competition out of the water at some of the biggest events on the planet. This skill deployed on the side of alpine skiing venues in the most inhospitable mountains at the recent Winter Olympics particularly comes to mind.
“Before joining Getty Images, Jim was also responsible for developing the latest version of the Associated Press’ workflow tool and distribution system. His passing is a devastating and shocking loss for his family and friends, Getty Images and the industry at large.”
In addition to taking pictures for OHS, Dietz worked as a stringer for the Ottawa Herald. He studied at Kansas State University and then got his first job at the Blue Springs/Independence Examiner. He went on to spend 20 years as a photographer with the Associated Press traveling the world. He shot Olympic games in China, Academy Awards and many Super Bowls.
“He was just kind of a genius at solving complicated problems,” said David Ake, The AP’s director of photography in an article following his death. “He was very good at innovative ways to get pictures out of a camera in unusual places and get them out to the world.”
Dietz was known as a problem solver. If there was an issue, he was the one his co-workers could count on for a solution.
“He was in both worlds,” AP regional photo editor Mike Stewart said. “He knew strong photojournalism and obviously was a master at it.”
Dietz had many other talents besides photography. He learned carpentry and furniture making from his father and loved working on his old car.
His mother, Louise, said she was not aware of all the things her son had accomplished but she found comfort in the words written about him in the past two weeks.
An article in the Capital Gazette told how Dietz was passing his knowledge on to the next generation. He created technology at a New York-based nonprofit, NYCSalt, that enabled students to archive their work. He also made sure they had the right equipment. He also created technology that made it possible for photographers to submit their work in any situation.
This year’s Super Bowl would have been a big one for Dietz. It was the first where photographers used the editing software he created.
“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.”
In his personal life, he was a father to Annalise and Alayna and loved when they visited him in New York.
The family will meet with friends from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, at Lamb-Roberts Funeral Home. A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, at the funeral home.