Street Photography Greats. Ed Van Der Elsken

Photographer Ed Van Der Elsken posing for a photo

Ed van der Elsken (10 March 1925 – 28 December 1990)

Van Der Elsken was a Dutch documentary style Street Photographer and film maker. He worked in Paris at the early part of his career, developing photography for the Greats like Bresson who admired the street photography of Van Der Elsken, and Cappa, who created a Magnum photos and who we’ll cover later. He has a very unique style, and even though you may never have heard of him there are one or two we’ll known photos, you may have thought were taken by others.


He has 22 books and 28 films to his name, and many came through his love of travel. Central Africa and Bagara was a place he loved to visit. He also visited Tokyo and Hong Kong.


He was influenced by his first wife Ata Kando, a lady who just passed away on September 14th 2017, at 104 years young. Another of the Hungarian Tribe, her love for the wild outdoors turned his head. No longer did he focus on Journalism but more on story telling.


He worked with different cameras which shows his versatility, a Nikon and Leica 35mm and a Rolleicord 6×6. He took some incredible images of great Jazz spots in Amsterdam where American tourists would congregate, and South Africa during Apartheid.



Camera: Nikon and Leica 35mm and a Rolleicord 6×6

Where they worked: Paris, Amsterdam, Bagara, Tokyo, Hong Kong

Strengths: He had the ability to work anywhere and was an accomplished film maker

Weaknesses: It’s hard to define him, so it could be said he focussed a lot on capturing a great picture rather than fighting for the cause behind it.

Quote: “I’m not a journalist, an objective reporter, I’m a man with likes and dislikes”.



  1. His style isn’t instantly recognizable, that’s for sure. Not a criticism. I think my favorite is Girl at Train Station in Tokyo. Probably not the exact title, but I’m sure you know the photograph I’m referring to.

    Liked by 1 person

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