The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 1, 2014

AP's Martin remembered as mentor, friend, talent


Some of Martin's most memorable images helped people around the world understand the toll of disasters in the South, such as a man wading through chest-deep floodwaters after Katrina with a garbage bag of belongings. Or the striking colors of oil droplets suspended in a cresting wave after the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

He won national journalism awards for images including one of golfer Phil Mickelson celebrating his 2004 win at the Masters and another of people bracing themselves against 90 mph winds next to an upended house in Key West, Fla., during Hurricane Georges in 1998.

"Anyone can shoot game action at sporting events or general news. Dave found MOMENTS," former Mobile Press-Register photographer John David Mercer wrote in an email.

Martin took many young photographers under his wing, and Mercer said he learned a lot from Martin as a mentor — and competitor. As a young newspaper photographer, Mercer quickly found out that if he didn't shoot an event well enough his editors would use Martin's photos instead.

On a Facebook tribute page set up Wednesday, dozens of photojournalists from around the country shared their memories of Martin. Many recalled his mischievous spirit and wicked sense of humor as well as his generosity.

"Through the years he taught hundreds of photographers about lighting and positioning and getting the most out of their gear," said longtime friend and colleague Jay Reeves, AP's correspondent in Birmingham, Ala. "In that way, he influenced so many news photos without even being on an assignment."

But Martin's help went beyond setting an example or offering advice.

"Dave would give you the shirt off his back, let you borrow a lens or move some photos if your laptop crashed," Mercer said.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley described Martin as "one of the best photojournalists" he'd ever worked with.

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