I figure I would change topics for a moment. Here are some of the more famous photos that my uncle, Tony Spina, photographed throughout his lustrous career as the Chief Photographer at the Detroit Free Press.
Here is just a little bio of the man I have so much admiration for, he was such a fantastic role model, photographer, and someone I miss dearly in my life:
DETROIT _ Tony Spina, former Detroit Free Press chief photographer, whose camera recorded history and framed the images of presidents and popes for half a century, died Thursday (January 1995) at home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., after a brief illness due to coronary-artery disease. He was 80.
In more than four decades at the newspaper, Mr. Spina not only photographed major events of the area and the world, but he shaped the photography department and was mentor to many photo journalists at the paper and nationwide.
“Tony cared as much about his work and his newspaper as any person I have ever met,” said Neal Shine, publisher of the Free Press.
“He was as exceptional a human being as he was a photographer and he left a photographic legacy that is equaled by few. Only a person with a heart and soul like Tony Spina could ever make the kind of pictures he did.
“We have all suffered a terrible loss.”
Shine added: “As a copy boy running errands for the photographers in the early 1950s, I was always treated by Tony as an important member of the staff. In later years, when I became his editor, there was no reason for him to have to adjust his behavior. He treated me with the same kind of decency.”
Mr. Spina photographed all the United States presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton as well as the last four popes.
He was made a Knight of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1965 by a petition of Pope Paul VI.
“The world has lost a very special man, and he will be especially missed in Detroit by those with whom he lived and worked,” said Adam Cardinal Maida.
Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame
Tony Spina was born in Detroit and is a graduate of the Detroit Institute of Technology. He was the chief photographer of the Detroit Free Press and special assistant to the managing editor. During his 44 years at the Free Press, Spina received more than 450 state, national and international awards for his photography. The impressive list includes the Sprague Memorial Award from the National Press Photographers Association. He also shared a Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Free Press in 1968 for its coverage of the Detroit riots. Spina was also the author of a weekly photo column, which appeared in the Free Press and more than 200 other newspapers. His assignments have included photographing eight U.S. presidents and four popes. He is known for his unique faculty to combine art and a strong sense of journalism in his photographs. His pictures have been displayed in more than 80 exhibitions. In 1964, 100 of Spina’s photographs of the Vatican were exhibited worldwide. A leader not only to his profession, but to the entire industry, Spina was the first photojournalist to be inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. David Lawrence, Jr., publisher and chairman of the Detroit Free Press, commented: “More than anything else, the easy measure of Tony’s contributions can be taken by the awards presented him by his peers.”
Posted in a Photography forum on the Internet (This was my uncle all the way!):
Who have you met and/or got a chance to talk to? And if they made an impression, good or bad. What was it?
I was shooting an event at the University of Detroit/Mercy and I got a chance to sit down and talk with Tony Spina. He was the chief photographer for the Detroit Free Press, and won a Pulitzer for his images of the race riots in the 60′s. He had published I think 6 books. A number of the Pope’s pictures people saw when he was in the U.S was his shots. Anyway, he was a really cool guy to talk to. He very much stressed education vs. learning on your own. Although I am not big on photojournalism, he really inspired me to go out and produce better work.”
Uncle Tony- I miss our talks and your stories, but I will never forget them. I owe my photography career all to you! I miss you. -Roland