Boris Spremo

As a professional photojournalist, Boris Spremo had opportunities to travel around the world on many different assignments. These included Royal Tours and the Olympic Games, but also wars and disasters. One of the worst and most unforgettable assignments of his career was in 1974, travelling westward across Africa from Ethiopia to Mauritania to cover the drought and famine crisis.

“Coming from one of the wealthiest countries in the world to an African continent enduring extreme famine was the biggest shock of my life,” says Boris, “and this particular job had a profound effect on me.” He was horrified by the sight of men, women and children dying each day. Awakened to the desperate need, surrounded by the overwhelming pain and suffering, wanting others to see and understand and do something, he took photos like this one.

Boris’s pictures with stories by reporter Dan Turner were published in the Toronto Star and caught the attention of the Canadian Red Cross. Soon after, various agencies began to send aid to Ethiopia and other African nations. 

Born in former Yugoslavia and a graduate of Belgrade’s Cinematographic Institute, Boris Spremo immigrated to Canada in 1957. After a spell of freelance work, he joined The Globe and Mail staff in 1962 then moved to the Toronto Star in 1966, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. During his career, Spremo has won more than 295 national and international awards for photography. Recognition of his talent began early in 1965, when he earned what is perhaps his most important achievement: being the first Canadian to capture a First Prize Gold Medal in the World Press Photo competition in The Hague, Holland.
In 1966, Spremo was awarded with two honours by the Professional Photographers of Canada standing as a Master of Photographic Arts (M.P.A.) and Canadian Photographer of the Year. During the course of 40 years career, Spremo’s  assignments have taken him around the world covering wars, famine, politics, Royals, Olympics and celebrities. In 1997, Spremo was awarded Canada’s highest honour, the “Order of Canada” (C.M.) for his years of photographic excellence. Spremo also received The Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.