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 1960 and moved to The Toronto Star in 1966, where he retired in 2000.
During his career, Spremo has won over 280 national and international awards for photography. Recognition of his talent began early, when in 1966, he earned what is perhaps his most important distinction, being the first Canadian to capture a First Prize Gold Medal in the World Press Photo Competition in the Hague. Also in 1966, Spremo was awarded with two honours by the Professional Photographers of Canada: standing as a Master of Photographic Arts (M.P.A.) with the medal presentation being made by Governor General Roland Michener in Ottawa and Canadian Photographer of the Year. Following these awards, Spremo was commissioned by the federal government to compile a Photographic Essay for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo '67.
Spremo is also the recipient of four National Newspaper Awards, 18 Canadian Press Picture-of-the Month Awards, four Toronto Fire Fighters Awards for best picture of the year, and four Metropolitan Toronto Police Awards for best police photograph of the year.
In 1997, Spremo was awarded Canada's highest honour, the "Order of Canada" (C.M.) for his years of photographic excellence with a presentation by Governor General Romeo Le Blanc at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Much of Spremo's outstanding works have appeared in the books "Toronto by Boris Spremo" (McGraw-Hill,1976), "20 Years of Photojournalism" (MacLelland-Stewart, 1983), and "Shadows of War, Faces of Peace" (1993) which tells about Canada's U.N. Peacekeepers in the Middle East and Central America.
Spremo's photographs have also been published in many national and international publications, including Maclean's, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest, The National Enquirer plus many other books and magazines depicting Canada and the world.
During the course of his 40-year career, Spremo's assignments have taken him around the world covering wars, famine, politics and celebrities. The short list of distinguished dignitaries that have been photographed by Spremo include Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau on many of his world tours, President George Bush, President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Boris Yeltsin, President L.B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Jaqueline Onassis, Charles de Gaulle and Fidel Castro.
Actors, musicians and sport celebrities have also been captured on film, from Elizabeth Taylor to Oprah Winfrey, the Beatles to Bruce Springstein and Muhammed Ali to Elvis Stojko.
But the environment where Spremo thrives the most and has captured many of his best photos, is the war zone. Over the years, Spremo has visited the hot zone of Vietnam where he spent a month with Canadian Peacekeeping troops, Grenada after the U.S. troops invasion, plus Belfast, Northern Ireland, Israel, Gaza, Cypress and Iraq. Also travelling throughout six countries of Central Africa in 1983, Spremo's special assignment was to cover drought and famine from Ethiopia on the east to Senegal and Mauritania on the west. After Iraq's invasion of Turkey in 1991, Spremo was also sent on special assignment to cover the plight of the Kurds extricated from their homes.
Spremo has also covered numerous international events, including the first Pan-American Games, 30 Royal Tours, the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and subsequently to her funeral, the funeral of Senator Robert F. Kennedy at Arlington Cemetery, the Montreal, Sarajevo and Calgary Olympics and the World Cup Soccer '86 in Mexico.
Spremo has had many exhibitions of his photographs and is a sought after speaker by photography classes at colleges in Canada and the U.S. He has been interviewed by numerous radio and television talk shows and starred in a TV commercial for Eveready Batteries. Spremo lives in Toronto with his wife and has four grown daughters.
PHOTO CREDIT: Peter CHENEY