It was a toy stroboscope and the Christmas present of a magic lantern that launched Fritz Wentzel's lifelong love and preoccupation with photography. Born in 1877 in Berlin, he built his own camera obscura when he was ten years old and used it to observe Berlin street life from the family balcony.

Around 1890, at his grandfather's villa in the Tiergarten, he developed his first glass plates and made his first prints in a darkroom an uncle had installed beneath a staircase.

"To become a good amateur photographer was my greatest ambition,” he wrote in his Memoirs of a Photochemist. "After I had learned the technical mysteries of the procedures I became more and more interested in the artistic aspects of photography."

In 1908, having studied chemistry and optics under such distinguished photographic pioneers as Professor Dr. Hermann Vogel, Professor Dr. Adolf Miethe, and others, he earned his doctorates in chemistry and in engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin. From 1906 to 1910, he traveled extensively in the Balkan countries with his Mentor Graflex-type camera, which allowed him to compose boldly, focus selectively, and see the precise image on the ground glass up to the instant he released the shutter. With a rising lens board, he was able to correct architectural distortion.

In general, Dr. Fritz Wentzel's photographs reflect the pictorialist trend of the time. In a rather simple, thoughtful, and pleasing way, they document a relatively gentle chapter in the history of the Balkans. For his photographic achievements, he was awarded the prestigious silver and gold medals of the Vienna Photographic Society.