Influenced by the photographer Weegee and his vision of urban life, Ed van der Elsken was mainly interested in life in the city and in the streets, in people and their surroundings, in an observation of life in general and its rebellious youth in particular. His work mainly provides an intimate and autobiographic view on Europe between the 2nd World War and the Seventies, often showing people he met during his time in Paris (in the 50`s) or, members of his family and the jazz-scene of Amsterdam (in the late 50`s).
Coming from the Netherlands he settled to Paris in 1959, when his expectations of an open and free socialistic Holland did not become real. In this time in Paris he edited the book “Liebe in St. Germain des Prés” which led to his legendary distinction, not only for the new way of direct and intimate photography, but even for equally treating text and pictures.
Ed van der Elsken also made films, that echo the themes of his photographic work, trying to find a path between the two media. Not to forget about the subjective perspective that is always integrated in his work, leading to his diction: “Be strong everybody. Take care. Show who you are.”