The publication in 1956 of Een Liefdesgeschiedenis in Saint Germain des Prés (A Love History in Saint Germain des Prés) marks the international breakthrough of Ed van der Elsken. After his photos of the Parisian fringes of society were published, his name was established as a street photographer.
Early Ed highlights the period prior to his success (1944-1956). The books tells how Van der Elsken was taken care of by Christian-anarchist anti-militarists in Bergeijk during the last year of the war; how he became acquainted with photography in Wormerveer; how he immersed himself in high society circles in Paris.
Documents from the archives of the Leiden University Library and the Nederlands Foto Museum in Rotterdam show a searching Ed van der Elsken. Contact sheets expose a photographic universe populated by models, stars, musicians, cats, dogs, partygoers, artists and top athletes.
There is an impression that Ed opposed corporate photoshoots, but his pocket diary is full of business appointments for advertising campaigns. Examples for whom he worked are Weverij De Ploeg and furniture brand ‘t Spectrum, UMS Pastoe and PTT Post and Telecom. Within this oeuvre he develops a remarkable personal style with an emphasis on interaction between the models. He likes to use acquaintances from his own circle for the necessary freedom of movement. A new love story unfolds against the backdrop of the coldest winter month of the twentieth century.