Jon Lynton David Hrusa was born in Cape Town on October 24 1965. He matriculated from St Stithians College in the mid-1980’s and went on to study at Wits University. His plan to study medicine was short-lived as he only spent six months at Wits before dropping out.

Jon’s interest for photography sparked during a school biology trip to Namibia where he became mesmerized and enchanted by the light emanating from the sand dunes. Well renowned for his passionate rendering of subjects as diverse as cricket and HIV/Aids, Hrusa brought a certain type of potency to his work that left an ineradicable mark on his peers - and occasionally frustrated deadline-driven reporters due to leaving an assignment only when he had the shot he wanted.

His first job involved him in taking photographs for the South African Defence Force’s (SADF) magazine. A decade later photojournalism beckoned and led him to start his career as a staff photographer for the Pretoria News, The Sunday Times and Sportsday. Preceding joining the European PressPhoto Agency (EPA), Jon freelanced for the Associated Press and Reuters. This granted him a front row seat to major events that would take place in South Africa from the 1980’s up until 2012.

Jon was passionate about documentary photography that made a difference. In 2000, he spent three months documenting the rescue of African penguins after a massive oil spill off the coast of South Africa for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). His photographs were the subject of Spill – Saving Africa’s Oiled Penguins, a book about the penguin rescue published by IFAW.

Jon was one of the primary photographers for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), and had spent years documenting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. He documented a unique HIV program in rural Lesotho, which appeared in news outlets around the world and later went on to be featured on ABC's 20/20 and CNN’s Inside Africa. Jon’s photo of a child playing next to an EGPAF-supported health clinic in Swaziland was runner-up in the USAID Frontlines Photo Contest in March 2011.

In 1991, Jon was named the Ilford South African Press Photographer of the Year as well as the Allied/M-Net South Africa Sports Photographer of the Year. He has won multiple South African Press Awards, as well as a Bronze Award at the 2010 South African Profoto Awards. He was awarded third place for Environment and Nature Stories at the 2001 World Press Photo Awards.

Jon passed away on the 19th of December 2011 after some challenges with alcohol and depression. Despite his full fletched creativity, it was also known that he was afflicted with bi-polar disorder. At the time of his death, he was a regional staff photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency (EPA), which he joined in 2003, that was based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He also worked as a freelance photographer for various NGOs and other organizations.

Jon’s photos have appeared in countless national and international publications, including: National Geographic, The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Los Angeles, Times, MSNBC, Time Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Telegraph, The London Sunday Times Magazine, The Times of London, The South China Morning Post, The Daily Mail, Rugby World Magazine and the Illustreret Videnskab Magazine

Hrusa is survived by his partner Heather Mason, his mother Jean and siblings Sue and Tim. 

B. Horner, (2011) 'Obituary: Jon Hrusa: passionate photographer' from Times Live, 31 December, [online], Available at, [Accessed 11 September 2019]

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