With the magic of his camera lens, Gerald Sprayregen has personally witnessed many once-in-a-lifetime moments. Through his philanthropic endeavors, outspoken activism and having penned over 20 books during his illustrious career, he has shared many of his experiences and memories with millions of people around the world. Notably, Sprayregen is among the foremost sports photographers.
“There are many great sports photographers around the globe,” Sprayregen says. “I have been very often fortunate to have been in the right spot at the right time.”
The United States Golf Association commission honored Sprayregen by asking him to supply 40 images from his book Power, Passion, Honor and Glory for an exhibition that traveled the United States and Canada for four years. Thirty images from his book, The Soul of Michael Jordan and Company (published by Random House) were selected by the Basketball Hall of Fame to comprise a one-man show, which ran for 18 months and was the longest running exhibition in the history of the Basketball Hall of Fame. These distinctions classify Sprayregen as one of the greatest professional sports photographers to have ever lived.
Since 2007, the Sprayregen Family Foundation (SFF) proudly supports the production of impact films with a social conscience. Among these groundbreaking films is Thank You for Your Service, a documentary directed by Tom Donahue, that exposes the epidemic of PTSD and suicide as it exists within the community of veterans returning from war. Rather than merely function on the financial end of the production, Sprayregen initiated the film getting made and his sheer force in all aspects of the endeavor made these war stories possible. When Sprayregen takes time away from sports photography, he spends his energy on helping others.
In 2019, he founded the Gerald Sprayregen Charitable Foundation Inc. — a charity that supports educational programming, provides financial support to college students and encourages student participation in democracy. This foundation provided a grant to enact an emergency award program to support students who have experienced a personal emergency that has become a financial burden standing in the way of their educational pursuits. Sprayregen spearheaded efforts in facilitating student retention toward program completion by removing problematic financial obstacles. “Through the efforts of my foundations, we have derived immense satisfaction and pride when we bring a smile to the face of any boy or girl who has almost forgotten how to smile,” asserts Sprayregen.
His entrepreneurial side has led him to having published over 20 books. This Renaissance man has released award-winning books of sports photography, but in addition to that, his works include poetic works as well as children’s books. Sprayregen is a major advocate for youth literacy with an emphasis on providing comfort and support for children and their families while in the hospital setting through children’s literature. He started the annual Search for Creativity poetry and photography competition which is offered to three public high schools each year. He is very involved in giving back at his second home in Florida through the Kids Sanctuary Campus, a village of homes in West Palm Beach providing housing for at-risk, abused and neglected children in the foster care system.
Another interesting project SFF is involved with is America the Great — a compilation of satiric cartoons from 52 highly acclaimed artists throughout the world who provide their impressions of former President Donald Trump through charged illustrations and text. Of the 52 artists, 22 of them have won Pulitzer Prizes for their cartoon work. America the Great begins with a preface tracing the history of the genre since 1776. All proceeds from the sale of this book are directed toward the initiatives of Sprayregen’s foundation, which support children’s literacy, the arts and social advocacy.
In addition to the world-wide fame for his photography of sports legends including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, Sprayregen’s most recent photography project has taken him closer to home with a magnificent coffee table photography book titled A Beach for All Seasons: The Beauty of the Hamptons. This book is a massive 320-page coffee table book that exquisitely captures the beauty of the Hamptons during the spring, summer, winter and fall seasons. This fascinating content visually documents the time he spent, during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, traversing the highways and byways of his beloved East End. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of the book are earmarked for food banks and pantries, 75% of which is directed toward hyper-local food banks that serve the East End.Sprayregen remains active with the initiatives of his foundation and continues to write and create photographs while dividing his time between New York and South Florida.
He is also responsible for creating and implementing a special fund to assist the families of first responders who lost their lives while working at Montefiore Hospital in New York City during the COVID-19 crisis. Sprayregen’s twin brother, Dr. Seymour Sprayregen, is the chief of radiology at Montefiore Hospital.
Sprayregan continues his philanthropic efforts which he declares to be among the most rewarding experiences of his life and have become a very central and fulfilling focus to himself and his family. He continues to be the guiding force behind the foundation that bears his name. His passions for filmmaking, photography and poetry continue to maintain his creative energy and strength to this day.
Commenting on one of his favorite projects, Sprayregen remarks, “I’ve written, directed and produced a film called Economics 101, and being the ham that I am, I wrote in a small acting role for myself.”
At an age past 80, when most people tend to slow down, Sprayregen is just getting started with new ventures such as the building of nine new residential homes throughout the Hamptons. This project was initiated in 2019.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.