About Juergen Schmeja

Juergen Schmeja (pron. yurg’-en shmay’-dja) was born in Lippstadt, northern Germany in 1944.

The beautiful old town, with its surrounding rivers and streams, provided an ideal backdrop for ten-year-old Juergen’s first experiments with a box camera.

Exakta Varex IIa

His purchase of an East German Exakta Varex camera – one of the first SLR cameras in the world and well ahead of its competition – soon led to Juergen’s first truly high quality series of photographs.

While still a student, Juergen worked in the optical laboratory of the famous Hella Lighting company. The lab was run by a professional photographer who passed on a wealth of knowledge and set a vision for the future.

Inspiration came with extensive trips through Germany, Scandinavia, France, Czechoslovakia and the Swiss Alps, where Juergen recognised the difficulty in capturing vivid landscapes with only one lens. He innovated and started “stitching several prints together” without any digital help. This approach was the only way to reproduce a picture as the eyes were seeing it.

In 1965 he saw a slide show put together by a distant relative who had spent several years in Australia. The images of this vast land – the contrasting colours, the endless deserts and beaches, the great mountain ranges, the emptiness – these were the deciding factors when he made the decision to emigrate in 1968.

Olympus OMNew friends introduced Juergen to bushwalking in the Victorian Alps and to the secluded beaches in Gippsland. Extended walks in Tasmania and New Zealand followed, and in winter his passion turned to ski-touring and snow-camping. During many winter visits to Mount Bogong, The Bluff, Mount Howitt and the Cross-Cut Saw, Mount Kosciusko and the Main Range, Juergen produced some amazing photographic art using a trusty Olympus OM Camera.

Hasselblad Xpan

Finally Juergen was given the ultimate present by his wife Ann: a Hasselblad XPAN 35mm Panorama camera. This was a landmark moment in Juergen’s nascent photographic career, and he turned professional.

Juergen’s art now hangs in many boardrooms and homes around Europe and Australia, the result of a true passion for landscapes and a love of beauty.