James Issac "Spider" Martin (born April 1, 1939 in Fairfield, died April 8, 2003 in Blount Springs) was a press photographer for the Birmingham News, best known for his documentary photographs of the Civil Rights Movement.
Martin was born in Fairfield. Though he never grew much taller than 5 feet, he did play high school football at Hueytown High School. He later worked as a photojournalist for The Birmingham News and as a commercial photographer. Between 1965 and 1973 Martin completed fashion shoots for several national magazines like McCall's, Womens Wear Daily, and Playboy.
During the numerous events of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin navigated the crowds and took thousands of well-composed and action-packed documentary photographs. Many of them were better received on the national wire than in his own paper. His photographs have since been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution and in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. A collection of his work was purchased by the Civil Rights Institute in 2007.
Martin killed himself on April 8, 2003 at his home in Blount Springs. His daughter, artist Tracy Martin, memorialized him in an installation for the first Dia de los Muertos observance at Bare Hands Gallery in November, 2003.
The UAB Visual Arts Gallery observed the 40th anniversary of the "summer of love" in 2007 by showcasing some of Martin's never-before-seen fashion photographs in a show curated by Brett Levine and Mindi Shapiro.
- "Spider Martin." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 18 Nov 2006, 03:40 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 20 Nov 2006 .
- Gates, Verna (August 1994) "Southside from the Beginning". Black & White
- Ott, Tanya (August 3, 2006) "Civil Rights Photographer Spider Martin - His Life and Legacy" WBHM, audio program (9 min. 50 sec.)
- "Civil Rights Institute to display Martin photos of Selma in 1965" (March 6, 2007) Birmingham News.