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|| News Item: Posted 2005-11-30

Remembering 'Uncle Jerry'
By Mitchell Layton

Photo by

Left to right: Jerry Wachter, Tony Tomsic and Mitchell Layton at Jerry's second marriage in 1998.
(Editor's note: Former Sports Illustrated contract photographer Jerry Wachter, uncle of Washington D.C. and Baltimore area freelancer Mitchell Layton and father of member Scott Wachter, died from Merkel cell carcinoma on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at the age of 61 in Baltimore, Maryland. Following is a remembrance from his nephew Mitchell.)

First, I want to thank my uncle, Jerry Wachter, for all that he gave me. He taught me the skills that I would need to create and live one incredible life. For that- thank you Jerry. For all of the memories and moments, again, I thank you. Every time I pick up a camera I will think of you.

What so many people do not realize about Jerry is the legacy he left in strobe lighting and stock photography. Jerry was one of the first photographers to install strobe lights in arenas on a permanent basis. It provided the Washington Capitals and former Washington Bullets strobe photography during every game at their former home The Capital Centre. Jerry's foresight laid the groundwork for what we see in every arena we work in today.

Jerry was always trying out new angles and techniques. Jerry came up with different ways to fire off the strobes. He was always looking for ways not to have to run wire. Jerry taught me how to get the most out of each game. "Look at everything three ways, close up, normal and as wide as can be," he would tell me. Give the client all angles to look at. He also reminded me that "You are only as good as your last image. You might take all these images tonight, but do it again tomorrow," Jerry told me.

Jerry's influences in our business are some of the reasons we will "do it again tomorrow."

He also took Stock Photography to a new level. The idea of shooting an event and selling the images as sports stock with Focus On Sports was innovative for its time back in the early seventies. Now it is a way of life for so many.

In the end, Jerry told me he was blessed to have been able to do what he did. Jerry touched so many of us in ways we might not even realize. Camden Yards will never be the same without him. He will be missed.

(Mitchell Layton is the team photographer for the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Nationals and Georgetown University's Men's basketball program.)

Related Links:
Layton's website

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