Ed Van Der Elsken studied art in his hometown. He later moved to Paris to work as a freelance photographer and to work as a correspondent for a Dutch newspaper. He later took a trip around the world and took many awe inspiring socio-political photographs. At first he worked only in black and white but later took up color. He shot a photographic series on jazz between 1955 – 1961 and did not use flash illumination because he wanted to preserve the atmosphere and emotions of the movement of natural light conditions. Elsken published Sweet Life in 1963 along with numerous photographic books about Amsterdam, Japan and China.
Elsken expressed the drama of social injustice through photography. You will see the power in his photographic work through a small selection of photographs below. He was most interested in the people left to the margins of society. He wanted to capture the realities of the everyday struggles of people. You can see it in the expression of the face of the Chinese girl carrying the bucket below. As you can see, his black and white photography has great composition and a unique atmospheric element to it. His shots are misty and mysterious. His photographs aim to educate and teach us about social injustice (notice the South African apartheid picture below).