"He traveled with me in the aftermath of the April 2011 tornado outbreak, and told the story of the storm's devastation in some of the best photos I have seen," Bentley said in a statement Wednesday.
Martin began his career as a photographer at the Lakeland Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., in 1982, before joining the AP as a staff photographer in Montgomery in 1983. In 2004, he became the AP's regional photo editor for the South. Subsequently, he worked as a freelance photographer for several years before rejoining the AP in 2010 in Montgomery.
Despite the national awards, the man known as "Mullet" — after the fish, not the hairstyle — remained humble and focused on making sure everyone around him was having a good time. Many colleagues recall how his unflappable demeanor and jokes could cut through the tension during assignments.
"He'll forever be known for the legendary parties he hosted known as 'Mulletfests,' which came with custom-made T-shirts (I still have all mine!), plenty of good food and drink, and a midnight tossing of that smelly, slimy fish in the middle of the street," said AP sports writer Paul Newberry.
He was devoted to his wife, Jamie Martin, and their two children, Emily and Skip. Several colleagues remembered Martin's pride after November's Alabama-Auburn college football game — not because his own photo made the cover of Sports Illustrated, but because his son's photo was featured in a two-page spread inside.
Reeves, the AP correspondent, fondly recalled how Martin's perfectionist streak wasn't limited to framing images at sporting events and disasters.
On their last assignment together, Reeves watched as Martin took time to get the perfect photo of sunlight streaming through a glass of beer. "He came away with a beautiful photo because he wasn't willing to settle for the ordinary."