Montgomery Photographer Dave Martin Leaves a Legacy

By on 16 January, 2014 in Carole King with 0 Comments

Midtown Montgomery lost one of its favorite sons recently with the passing of Dave Martin. Dave and Jamie were long-time residents of Midtown, first in the Garden District and then in a 1960s renovation on Carter Hill Road that Dave was always working on. Dave, who was 59, was locally known as Mullet, a nickname he so lovingly acquired from the partying done in his youth. However, he was also known internationally as a notable sports and special events photographer. Dave collapsed at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on New Year’s Eve. Dave was known in the sports world for always capturing the celebratory Gator-Ade dousing ritual by the victorious team of the coach as the clock ran out at the end of the game. And Dave’s last shot was just that — of the victorious Texas A&M from the ground after his collapse from an apparent cardiac arrest. He was quickly taken to Emory Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Dave began his career at the Lakeland Ledger in Lakeland, Florida in 1982, and very soon afterward he relocated to Montgomery to join the Associated Press staff. Dave traveled all over the world documenting not only sports events but anything AP assigned him — wars in Afghanistan, Haiti and Iraq, Olympics, political conventions, natural disasters, etc. Dave covered almost every major news event in the South over the last 30 years. Many of those memorable photos we saw during news coverage were taken by Dave: Hurricane Katrina, the BP Gulf oil spill and the Tuscaloosa tornadoes of 2011.

Although his extraordinary photographic eye is well documented, Dave is most known for his strong friendships with photographers and other media throughout the South and especially in Alabama. Tributes to Dave and his work streamed through hundreds of newspapers, television and radio reports and assorted blogs all over the country. A memorial service was held at Shashy’s Restaurant on Mulberry Street, apparently one of Dave’s regular hangouts. Not only were we packed in the restaurants like “mullets,” cars parked for blocks with folks coming to pay their respects to their friend Dave. Photographers from all over the country, neighbors, reporters, friends of the family and an entourage from the Capitol came to remember the life of this extraordinarily talented person. Numerous tributes continue to pour in on his Facebook Dave Martin Tribute page.

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Dave when we were looking for a photographer to shoot publication-quality photos for the upcoming Alabama Quilt Book. Although he was more of an action type of photographer, he jumped on the opportunity and put his heart and soul into learning something new. During several sessions he photographed many quilts with much attention to detail and color … plus, he was a hoot to work with.

As Jay Reeves, AP’s Birmingham contact, said, “He was so driven to tell stories through pictures that he’d do most anything it took to be in the right spot to get the best photo, whether it was standing on a beach during a hurricane or wading into polluted waters during an oil spill. He covered wars and a revolution, sports and tornadoes, the Alabama Legislature and presidents, and he typically had the best picture no matter what the event.”

Another friend and sports writer Paul Newberry praised Dave for never approaching work or life halfway and those of us who knew him know how true that was. “He lived life to the fullest. We should all be so lucky to get out of our time on this planet what he did in 59 short years. He is simply irreplaceable.”

And so we remember his friend and wife Jamie, their children, Emily and Skip and those millions of folks that have been touched by Dave Martin’s work.

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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