PhotoLexicon, Volume 25, nr. 40 ( December 2008) (en)

Jaap Bijsterbosch

Martin Harlaar


Jaap Bijsterbosch is an autonomous photographer and a photography instructor. He takes photos in which landscape is the central theme, as well as photos in which the presence of people and their behaviour play a primary role. Capturing the characteristic atmosphere of intriguing places is essential to his work. This includes the artificial ‘village landscape’ of the area surrounding the city where he lives, Diemen, but also the poetic villages where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas stayed, as well as the primeval forests of Sweden. Bijsterbosch prefers photography projects of a decent size as a presentation format for his work. Bijsterbosch is on the ‘aspirants committee’ of the GKf (Gebonden Kunsten Federatie, vakgroep fotografie, ‘United Arts Federation, Department of Photography’). Prior to this, he was the board secretary of this trade association.




Jacob Sipke (Jaap) Bijsterbosch is born on 7 February in Groningen as the eldest son of Jacob Bijsterbosch Sr., a prison guard, and Tjitsche van Dijk. Two brothers are born after Jaap.


The Bijsterbosch family is obliged to move several times due to his father’s work. Via Dedemsvaart, the family ultimately ends up in Zwolle.


Jaap Bijsterbosch attends the four-year programme at the MULO (Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs, lower-level secondary school education) in Zwolle. In 1967, he takes up photography as a hobby and builds a darkroom in the attic of his parent’s house.


Bijsterbosch attends the fourth and fifth year of the HAVO (Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs, ‘Higher General Secondary Education’) at the Christelijk Lyceum (‘Christian Lyceum’) in Zwolle. He passes his final examination.


Bijsterbosch studies architecture for one year at the HTS (‘Hogere Technische School’, Higher-Level Technical School’) in Zwolle.


Bijsterbosch attends the Pedagogische Academie (‘Pedagogical Academy’) in Zwolle and obtains his teaching diploma in 1973.


Bijsterbosch initially works in Zwolle and moves to Amsterdam in 1975.


Bijsterbosch meets Petra van Maastrigt in 1977. The couple marries in 1978.


Together with Manfred van Eyck and others, Bijsterbosch establishes the children’s puppet theatre ‘Petroesjka’, where he performs as an actor and a puppeteer. In 1979, he becomes the night supervisor at the ‘Hubertushuis’ (‘Hubertus House’), a shelter for mothers and their children in Amsterdam.


Bijsterbosch takes a number of photography classes and workshops at the Cultureel Centrum De Moor (‘De Moor Cultural Centre’) in Amsterdam. He receives instruction from Fons Timmer, Corinne Noordenbos, and others. Also taking these classes are Rob Ferençik, Barend van Herpe, and Rineke Dijkstra.


Bijsterbosch takes a photography trip to Greece.


Bijsterbosch begins working as a professional photographer.

Bijsterbosch takes a photography trip to Italy, together with Rob Ferençik.


Based on the photos taken in Italy, the AFK (Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, ‘Amsterdam Fund for the Arts’) commissions Rob Ferençik and Jaap Bijsterbosch to work on a photography project in the United Kingdom.

Bijsterbosch quits his job at the Hubertushuis and decides definitively on a career in photography.


Bijsterbosch takes several trips to the UK on his own.


Bijsterbosch’s photos are added to the collection of the gallery of the ‘Nieuw Perspectief ‘ (‘New Perspective’) foundation in Amsterdam.


In 1985, Bijsterbosch begins as an instructor of photography at the De Moor Cultural Centre in Amsterdam. In this same year, he begins working as a photography instructor at the Volksuniversiteit (‘People’s University’) in Haarlem, where he teaches until 1991.


Bijsterbosch is a part-time staff employee of photography at the De Moor Cultural Centre, where he is involved in educational activities and later as well in the ‘exhibition policy’ of the ‘Fotocafé’ (‘Photo Café’).

Bijsterbosch organises exhibitions for up-and-coming photographers, including Alex ten Napel, Gé Dubbelman, and Esther Kroon.


Bijsterbosch becomes a member of the trade organisation GKf (Gebonden Kunsten Federatie, vakgroep fotografie, ‘United Arts Federation, Department of Photography’). In the same year, the Amsterdamse Kunstraad (‘Amsterdam Arts Council’) commissions Bijsterbosch to travel to Ireland to shoot photos.


Bijsterbosch accompanies a number of photography students on a trip to Wales in connection with a project about Dylan Thomas at De Moor. Bijsterbosch becomes fascinated with Thomas, and in the spring of 1989, he requests a subsidy to further pursue his own photography project in relation to Thomas’ poetry. His request is granted. Bijsterbosch subsequently travels to Wales again in the summer of 1989. Due to his many responsibilities at De Moor, however, the raw photographic material from this visit is completely processed and finished no earlier than 1991.


Bijsterbosch takes a second photography trip to Ireland, again made possible through a subsidy from the Amsterdamse Kunstraad.


Bijsterbosch is the photography coordinator at the JOM (Jongeren, Onderwijs en Media, ‘Youth, Education and Media’) foundation in Tilburg, which holds three workshop weekends each year at the Academie voor Journalistiek (‘Academy of Journalism’) in Tilburg.


Bijsterbosch’s son Bas is born.

Bijsterbosch resigns as a staff employee at De Moor, but continues on as an instructor. Bijsterbosch takes another photography trip to Ireland, this time of his own accord and financed himself.

Bijsterbosch becomes a member of the GKf’s management board, in the function of secretary. In addition, he is the contact person for all GKf members serving in the various policy-making committees.


Bijsterbosch is a photography instructor for the project ‘Bijlmer nu en in 2000’ (‘Bijlmer Now and in 2000’), a collaboration between the Artotheek Zuid-Oost (‘Art Library South East’) and various schools in the Bijlmermeer neighbourhood of Amsterdam.


In 1993, Bijsterbosch produces a photo series for the Province of North Holland, entitled ‘De Ijzeren Weg door Noord-Holland’ (‘The Iron Road across North Holland’), concerning the consequences of railway lines for landscape and infrastructure.

In 1994, Bijsterbosch produces a similar series for the city of Utrecht.

In addition, all of the 1995 monthly mailing covers of the magazine Ons Amsterdam (‘Our Amsterdam’) bear a photo taken for a similar series on Amsterdam.


Bijsterbosch’s son Jonas is born.

Bijsterbosch leaves the board of the GKf to devote more time to his family and his photography. He continues to work as a teacher at De Moor. To earn his living, he begins doing family reportages.


Bijsterbosch accepts a one-time assignment in the world of advertising and copywriters. The Dutch Bilderberg hotel chain commissions him to take ambient photos for the brochure ‘Het Grote Genieten’ (‘The Big Delight’).

Bijsterbosch becomes a photography instructor with the foundation ‘Buitenkunst’ (‘Outdoor Art’), a Dutch organisation that organises yearly workshops in all areas of the fine arts.


In February 1997, Bijsterbosch is approached by Doriann Kransberg, a photographer with the Amsterdam City Archive, to reproduce approximately 4,000 important etchings, engravings, and photos. For one-half year, Bijsterbosch works two days a week on this project.


In 2000, Bijsterbosch photographs the reclaimed areas of Schermer, Beemster and ‘Eilands-‘ polders for the Province of North Holland. In 2001, these play a prominent role in the event ‘Van Land tot Water’ (‘From Land to Water’) at the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar, opened by HRH Prince Willem-Alexander.


Bijsterbosch becomes a member of the ‘Amsterdamse Fotografenavond’ (‘Amsterdam Photographers Night’).

For Gallery WM (ran by Wanda Michalak) in Amsterdam, he conceives the project 20×20 Inches of Holland.


Starting in this year, Bijsterbosch organises numerous exhibitions for the Amsterdamse Fotografenavond (‘Photographers’ Evening’) together with Aloys Ginjaar.


Bijsterbosch and his family move from the ‘Indische Buurt’ neighbourhood of Amsterdam to an apartment in a newly built neighbourhood in Diemen.

Bijsterbosch purchases his first digital camera.


Bijsterbosch begins a photography weblog, ‘Oogenblikjaap’ (‘Instant Jaap’).

At the end of the year, Bijsterbosch shuts down his black-and-white darkroom. From this point onward, he processes all of his material digitally.


Bijsterbosch becomes a member of the ‘aspirants committee’ of the GKf.


In this year, Bijsterbosch begins working at the Fotoacademie Amsterdam (‘Amsterdam Photo Academy’). He becomes the head instructor of a group of third-year students.


As a photographer, Jaap Bijsterbosch’s interest is diverse. His passion is to translate the world into photos in order to see how it looks when photographed. In this endeavour, he places no limits on himself with respect to any one method or technique. He wishes to investigate the added value of various working approaches and cameras when photographing the atmosphere evoked by different places. Bijsterbosch is not only a driven photographer whose desire is to show his personal vision of the world to others, he is also a motivated photography instructor, who wants to help others discover their own photographic world.

Bijsterbosch’s parents—Jaap Bijsterbosch, originating from the region of the Veluwe, and Tjitsche van Dijk, from Friesland—met each other in the second half of the 1940s at a gathering of Reformed Dutch youth. Tjitsche was then working as a maid in Leeuwarden. The couple married in 1949. Jaap Jr. grew up in a loving family, but one that lived by extremely strict norms. Jaap Sr. was a staunch calvinist and a conservative man. In light of the generation gap of the 1960s and as the eldest son, Jaap fought with his father about the length of his hair, his music preferences, whether to attend church with the family or not: all of this intensified by his father’s strict upbringing. New worlds opened for Jaap when he started attending the Christelijk Lyceum (‘Christian Lyceum’) in Zwolle. It was here that he learned about modern literature and art history. He also had a progressive biology teacher who spoke openly about his membership in the NVSH (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Seksuele Hervorming, ‘Dutch Society for Sexual Reform’).

As a child, Jaap Jr. had two hobbies that were to later resurface in another form: he liked to play with model trains and he collected picture postcards.

As a photographer, Jaap Bijsterbosch is an autodidact. After secondary school, he studied architecture for one year at the HTS (‘Hogere Technische School’, Higher-Level Technical School’) in Zwolle, but this proved not to be his world. What he desired most was to photograph. For his sixteenth birthday, Jaap received a photo enlarging device and other darkroom supplies. In the attic of his parents’ home, he built his own dark room. He learned to develop and make prints via the Prisma photobooks by Peter Charpentier. In April 1968, one of Bijsterbosch’s was used in an illustration for an article about the prison in Zwolle in an employee magazine for penitentiaries called Balans (‘Balance’). Due to his father’s coaxing—who himself had wanted to be a teacher, but had been unable to fulfil this wish due to family circumstances—in the end Jaap decided to attend the PA (Pedagogische Academie, ‘Pedagogical Academy’) in Zwolle in 1970. In line with the predominant spirit of the times, he believed that by obtaining an education, the world could be improved. As a member of a student representative group for two years, Bijsterbosch became involved in heated discussions held at the academy, concerning all kinds of matters that were to be approached differently. He later came to the realisation that his ideas at the time were too idealistic, and especially, too naive. In addition, it had not been his aim to spend his entire life teaching—instead he wanted to experience more of the world.

Because of his study, Bijsterbosch had been granted a temporary stay that exempted him from the military. Upon receiving his teaching diploma, however, he was as yet called upon to serve. Possessing fundamental objections to military service, Bijsterbosch made an appeal to the ‘Wet Gewetensbezwaarden Militaire Dienst’ (‘Act of Conscientious Objections to Military Service’), which resulted in a legal process that lasted two years. In 1975, he was officially recognised as a conscientious objector, but by this time, he had already started working as a teacher. Because of a shortage of teachers at the time, Bijsterbosch had been granted permission to teach as an alternative to military conscription, and consequently, he was hired as a substitute teacher in Amsterdam. When the shortage ended in 1978, Bijsterbosch was fired and began receiving welfare benefits. He started taking photos more frequently. It was also at this time that he and others started up a children’s puppet theatre ‘Petroesjka’, in which he became active as a puppeteer and an actor. The idea itself was conceived at a children’s party. Within three months, performances were already being given at schools in the region of the Gooi and Amsterdam. Approximately two years on, the Petroesjka theatre came to an end: one of the puppeteers had decided to travel, and Bijsterbosch wanted to devote his full time and energy to photography.

In 1979, Bijsterbosch found work as a night supervisor at the Hubertushuis (‘Hubertus House’), a shelter in Amsterdam for mothers and their children. He would continue working there until 1984. In his free time, Bijsterbosch took photography classes and workshops at Cultureel Centrum De Moor (‘De Moor Cultural Centre’), where there were departments of photography, theatre, film, and graphic design. After diverse budget cuts, photography was the only department that had survived. Accordingly, the name was changed to the ACF (Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, ‘Amsterdam Centre of Photography’) in 1994. At De Moor, Bijsterbosch received lessons from Fons Timmer and Corinne Noordenbos. In Timmer’s classes, the emphasis lay on matters such as framing and composition; with Noordenbos, aspects of content and the social relevance of photography were the main topics addressed.

From 1982 to 1991, Jaap Bijsterbosch took frequent photography trips. He felt it was important to travel for one month of each year to concentrate solely on his photography, free of the concerns related to teaching and organisational work. In 1983, he took a similar trip to Italy, this time together with Rob Ferençik. Upon returning from this trip, Bijsterbosch and Ferençik submitted a proposal for a collaborative project to the AFK (Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, ‘Amsterdam Fund for the Arts’). Their plan was for both to photograph the exact same towns in the United Kingdom, each according to their own vision. In their proposition, Bijsterbosch’s starting point was to photograph the atmosphere of the places and the presence of people; Ferençik’s was to focus on human interaction in places that were alienating. To support their application, they also included several photos from their trip to Italy. The evaluating committee at the AFK liked the idea and consequently granted the assignment. The collaboration between the two photographers, however, came to an end in the fall of 1984, apparently because the magic was gone, both on the artistic and personal level.

Bijsterbosch travelled to the United Kingdom in 1985 and 1986 on his own. His goal was to capture the unique atmospheres he encountered in various regions. It was with a similar idea in mind that he also made trips to Ireland in 1988 and 1990, on assignment for the Amsterdamse Kunstraad (‘Amsterdam Arts Council’). In 1991, he visited Ireland again in order to complete his photographic vision of that country by taking a number of additional photos. Prior to this time, he had mainly photographed the countryside—now he wished to supplement his series with images of the cities. This would signal the last of his photographic journeys for the time being. With the birth of his son Bas, Bijsterbosch no longer wished to stray too far from home.

In 1993, Bijsterbosch tried to publish a book that consisted of photos taken in Ireland. As a group, the black-and-white photos formed a travel account, but they also depicted the poetry of everyday life. The title he had planned was Ireland on my mind. He established contacts with a Dutch publisher and later an Irish publisher as well. He had a dummy made up, to which both publishers responded positively. A share of the funds required were obtained through sponsoring. The book project ran into problems when a major investor—a large computer assembly plant—pulled out at the last moment. In the end, the company’s public relations department had no desire to be associated with rural life as it was reflected, in their view, in Bijsterbosch’s photos.

Bijsterbosch has never been oriented towards any one specific kind of photography, though landscape and the presence of people in public spaces (both indoors and outdoors) are two key themes. He is also known to combine photos showing people in a public space with an extravagant landscape functioning as an alienating decor. In addition, Bijsterbosch takes portraits. In the years 1994–2004, he made his living by photographing weddings, parties, and an occasional funeral. He found his clients through contacts at De Moor, fellow photographers and word-of-mouth advertising. But with the rapid growth of digital photography, this business fell through: people started photographing these kinds of events on their own.

Bijsterbosch prefers a project-based approach. He delves into his subject, reads about it, examines how colleagues in the past and now have dealt/deal with comparable subjects, and when possible, takes test shots in order to assess the final result. Even when taking his definitive shots, Bijsterbosch is still open to surprises. This approach to working can be observed in a project on the poet/writer Dylan Thomas, in his photo series on railways, his series of forest views, his documentary reportages about land reclamation in North Holland, and his newest project about landscapes in the vicinity of Diemen.

In 1988, De Moor organised a project about the poet and writer Dylan Thomas, who died young. Bijsterbosch accompanied a number of students on a trip to Wales, where Thomas was born and where he grew up. During this excursion, Bijsterbosch himself took photos with a 6×6 Mamiya. He photographed fragments of the landscape and the architecture, inspired by Dylan Thomas’ poetry. Thomas’ poems, in which everyday matters were linked to important enquiries about life written in stunning English, kept Bijsterbosch busy. It was for this reason that he wanted to return to Wales for a second time. In the spring of 1989, he requested a subsidy from the AFK. His request was granted, and in that same year, he spent an additional four weeks in Wales. During the day he walked through Laugharne, the village where Thomas lived. Every night, he went to the nearby pub—just like Thomas did—and listened to the village gossip. Bijsterbosch also stayed for a week in Swansea, where Thomas spent his youth. With his 6×6 camera he captured images that, according to his own feelings, corresponded with Prologue, the poem in which Thomas describes taking a walk through both Laugharne and his own life. When shooting these photographs, Bijsterbosch often used low shutter speeds and double exposures to translate the atmosphere of the poems into photography. The photos formed, as it were, the individual verses of a visual poem. Bijsterbosch’s activities at De Moor, and the threat that the centre’s funding would be cut off, cost him so much time after this, that it was not until 1991 before he was able to complete the Dylan Thomas project. In this year, the photos were exhibited at Gallery 2½x4½ in Amsterdam. The project was successful and received positive reviews in a number of major national newspapers.

From his youth, trains have always fascinated Bijsterbosch. With the pending arrival of his first child in 1992, he went in search of a working space outside his home. He found one on the Zeeburgerpad in Amsterdam, within hearing distance from the railway bridge across the Zeeburgervaart, where numerous trains rattled past each and every day. With the family expanding, it also meant a temporary break from Bijsterbosch’s travelling pursuits. All of these factors combined were what led him to the idea of photographing the railways in Amsterdam with a 20 mm wide-angle lens. He decided on Delta 100 film (recently new to the market) and Perceptol developer, both made by Ilford. The negatives had a fine, sharp grain and beautiful grey nuances. Bijsterbosch made the prints for this series in August 1993. To emphasise the long lines of the railways, Bijsterbosch created panorama photos by printing only a proportion of the negatives’ total height. He presented the series on the Amsterdam railways to the province of North Holland, which was still publishing documentary commissions, and filed a request for a subsidy in order to make a series on railways in North Holland. He was granted the commission and given six months’ time to produce twenty photos. This series was positively received and added to the provincial archive. The monthly magazine Ons Amsterdam published the Amsterdam photos in an article, as well as on its address mailing covers for a period of one year.

In 1994, Bijsterbosch asked to do a similar project in and around Utrecht via the SFU (Stichting Stedelijke Fotografie Utrecht, Urban Photography Utrecht Foundation)—with success. This series was likewise included in the archive of the SFU.

As a child, Bijsterbosch stayed every summer with his grandmother at the Veluwe, in the middle of the woods. He loved to ‘disappear’ into the mysterious world of light and shadow. In the last twenty years, Bijsterbosch has regularly ventured out into the forest with his camera to capture that same special atmosphere. In the second half of the 1980s, he used a Rolleiflex for this purpose; in the early ’90s a Nikon FE, usually in unison with a 20 mm lens. He experimented with double exposures and vignetting (light fading around the photo’s edges). This resulted in mysterious, romantic images. Bijsterbosch felt a certain affinity with Paul den Hollander because of the poetic atmosphere in his work, even though he purports never to have been consciously influenced by the work of other photographers.

Since 1999, Bijsterbosch has returned to photographing on 6×6, but now with a Mamiya. He toys with the depth of field and movement blur; he still sometimes takes double exposures. In recent years, his photos lean more towards abstraction than ever before. Abstraction and mystery, for instance, play a key role in the forest photos that he started taking in Sweden in 2007.

After having been turned down on subsidy applications for his projects on a number of occasions, Bijsterbosch enquired with the province of North Holland in 1999 as to whether there were any opportunities for a subsidy in connection with documentary photography. It turned out there were funds available for two open commissions and for a series on land reclamation in the Schermer, Beemster, and Eilands polders. Bijsterbosch was immediately drawn to the latter project. For years he had owned a caravan in nearby Bakkum, and having made many tours there by bicycle, he knew the area well. The region fascinated him because of its transparent light, the geometry of the landscape, and the landscaped nature. After photographing for a couple of days in the area, he developed his ideas about the project further. On the basis of the plan and photos he submitted, his request was honoured. In the year 2000, Bijsterbosch took photos with a Mamiya 6×6 camera during his frequent walks in this quintessentially Dutch landscape. The photos were exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, in connection with an event concerning water, and elsewhere.

Since 2006, Bijsterbosch has been working on two series with his digital camera. The first concerns people travelling in train compartments. He tries to photograph the behaviour of his co-passengers without being conspicuous, therefore using cameras that attract little attention. In his previous series of people at recreational areas in the United Kingdom and Ireland, he applies the same technique. Despite his height, he manages to avoid disturbing these situations with his presence.

There are no people in Bijsterbosch’s series Diemer landschappen (‘Landscapes of Diemen’). Using his camera, he takes, as it were, ‘picture postcards’ of the everyday aspects of his own living surroundings in the city of Diemen. While the emphasis with postcards typically lies on the aesthetic of landscapes and the picturesqueness of cityscapes, Bijsterbosch goes in search of the beauty of everyday places in Diemen, where people spend so much of their time. He captures—just as with picture postcards—his subject aesthetically and leaves people out of the images.

In 1991, Bijsterbosch became a member of the board of the GKf (Gebonden Kunsten Federatie, vakgroep fotografie, ‘United Arts Federation, Department of Photography’) and became this organisation’s secretary. He initiated an annual meeting of GKf members, who, either in a private capacity or as a representative of the trade organisation, were in all kinds of committees dispersed across the Netherlands. Information and knowledge were exchanged at these gatherings. Within the board, Bijsterbosch was the contact person for these committee members.

Bijsterbosch resigned as a board member of the GKf in 1994, following the birth of his second son, Jonas. In 2007, he became a member of the GKf’s aspirants committee. This committee examines whether applicants possess what it takes to eventually become full-fledged members. The committee also organises evenings on which those accepted as aspiring members allow their portfolio to be examined by senior members.

In 1985, Bijsterbosch was given the opportunity to combine his two big passions, photography and teaching. For several hours each week, he taught photography both at the De Moor Cultural Centre and the Volksuniversiteit (‘People’s University’) in Haarlem. Bijsterbosch would continue teaching in Haarlem until 1991. From 1986 to 1991, he was a staff member at De Moor for twenty hours a week. He planned classes and organised the ‘Photo Café’ and exhibitions.

Bijsterbosch also advised those in the presentation study group for advanced photographers in actualising their own projects, which often led to a students’ first solo exhibition. Following his departure as a staff member in 1991, Bijsterbosch continued teaching at De Moor (later ACF = Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, ‘Amsterdam Center for Photography’) and remained involved with the didactic organisation.

In 1992, Bijsterbosch was the photography instructor for the educational project ‘De Bijlmer: Nu en in 2020’ (‘The Bijlmer: Now and in 2020’), a collaborative project between the Artotheek (‘Art Library’) Amsterdam South-East and three secondary schools in the Bijlmermeer neighbourhood of Amsterdam. Each school was represented by a single class. The approximately seventy-five students who participated—ranging from twelve to fourteen years of age—were asked the question of how green and liveable the Bijlmer was now and how they believed it would be in the future. The students expressed their ideas on this topic both in words and approximately 1,800 colour photos taken themselves. They used simple cameras given on loan, specifically a Kodak type 235; focus and light exposure were adjusted automatically. The children only had to click the shutter release button and take the photo. Before doing so, however, Bijsterbosch first taught them how to observe and how to decide on which images were worthy of taking. He explained to them that what they wanted to say with a photo was most important and that technique was only of secondary importance. Each student shot an entire roll of twenty-four shots. Bijsterbosch then had to select four photos for each student—two for the present situation and two about the future—accompanied by a brief explanation. The results were documented in a booklet and an exhibition that appeared in the fall of 1993.

In 1995, Bijsterbosch was approached by Bert Janssen, a fellow photographer and member of the GKf, to take over his workshop at the foundation ‘Buitenkunst’ (‘Outdoor Art’). Since 1989, Buitenkunst has organised creative weekends and weeks in the months May through August. For many years, these have been held at a camping area run by Staatsbosbeheer (‘National Forest Management’) in the Grolloo forest reserve and the organisation’s own camping area on the Drontermeer Lake. These workshops are oriented towards a broad public and led by professional artists from various disciplines, including theatre, music, dance, literature and visual art. Since 1990, photography workshops have also been given. Bijsterbosch has been involved with Buitenkunst from the time he took over Janssen’s workshops. Until 1999, Bijsterbosch worked exclusively with analogue photography during these workshops, where there was a darkroom present. Starting in 2000, one could work both with analogue and digital. Since 2005, however, work is done digitally only. Bijsterbosch has given workshops in various areas of photography, including documentary, landscape and portrait. What he likes about Buitenkunst is that he is allowed to choose his own subjects and give classes to both amateurs and semi-professionals according to his own interests. In recent years, Bijsterbosch has received a growing number of commissions to reproduce artists’ work through his contacts at the foundation.

In 2008, Bijsterbosch began working at the Fotoacademie Amsterdam (‘Photo Academy Amsterdam’), where he is now the head instructor for a group of third-year students and responsible for assessing the realisation of their assignments.

In 1968, Bijsterbosch started photographing with an Agfa-Clack. Not long after, he purchased a Voigtlander Vito B 35 mm camera. By the time he had begun to photograph more seriously, in 1979, he bought a Nikon camera with a wide-angle, standard, and a telephoto lens, as well as a Durst enlarger for 35 mm and 6×6 cm. For years, Nikon’s cameras formed the core of his photographic equipment. In 1986, Bijsterbosch purchased a Rolleiflex with a Tessar lens. He became fascinated with the 6×6 format. In order to change lenses, he later purchased a Mamiya 6×6, again with a wide-angle, standard, and telephoto lens. Bijsterbosch has always finished his black-and-white material himself, using many different kinds of film, developer, and paper. He prefers Ilford material due to its full tonal range. Later on, he liked to use Agfa Classic.

The transition from analogue to digital went rather quickly with Bijsterbosch. In 2004, he purchased his first digital camera, a Fuji S7000, which brought a new impulse to his photography. In his subsidy request for the documentary assignment on the Schermer, Beemster and Eilands polders, he as yet wrote: ‘Colour distracts from the essence I seek in my photos. Colour is often no more than a thin layer encompassing reality.’ With the digital camera, colour made its definitive entry in his work. He welcomed the new technology without reserve. On 20 December 2006, he dismantled his darkroom. He still occasionally uses his Mamiya, but then scans in the negatives in order to process them digitally. Since 2006, he works with a Fuji S3 Pro Mirror Reflex and several compact cameras. When he wants to take photos without being noticed, Bijsterbosch uses the smallest of these, which is no bigger than two matchboxes.

Bijsterbosch places great value on good technical finishing and has always tried to do most of this work himself. That said, technique has always been of secondary importance to him when compared to content.

In Bijsterbosch’s archive there are 44,000 black-and-white negatives, 4,300 colour negatives and slides, and more than 22,000 original digital photo files. He is a prolific photographer, who enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for photography with others. In his role as a photography instructor, he has assisted many professional and amateur photograph in making progress. He has taught his students to master photographic technique, to think about how they approach a given photo project, and to be open to the unexpected.

Bijsterbosch likes to be surprised when photographing, but never loses sight of the final product he aims to achieve. This has resulted in a diverse oeuvre. He keeps his distance with his camera, yet manages to create a feeling of intimacy, especially in his photographs of situations involving people. In his different series on landscapes, such as that concerning the Swedish forests, the depiction of a poetic, romantic atmosphere stands central. In their objectivity, the themes in Bijsterbosch’s landscape photos of North Holland and the area around Diemen where he lives—railway lines and buildings along the tracks in polder landscapes and cities; new neighbourhoods and elements of urban design such as street lampposts and other street furniture—are comparable to those found in the work of contemporaries such as Cary Markerink and Luuk Kramer.


Primary bibliography

Balans [personeelsblad penitentiaire inrichtingen] april 1968.

De Moorkrant [uitgave van Cultureel Centrum De Moor] 1980.

Revisor 11 (juni 1984), p. 25, 28-29, 33.

Revisor 11 (september 1984), p. 7, 15, 33.

Homologie 8 (september 1986) 5, p. 23-25.

Hedie Meyling e.a. (samenstelling/red.), Achter het beeld, Amsterdam (MAKKOM) 1987, p. 60-63.

Plaatwerk 3 (maart 1987) 18, p. 20.

Foto 44 (april 1989) 4, p. 27.

Foto 44 (september 1989) 9, p. 68-69.

Noorderlichtkrant november 1990, p. 3.

Foto 45 (november 1990) 11, p. 48.

[Brochure] Bijlmer Artotheek Zuid-Oost-Amsterdam 1993.

Harrie Swinkels en Ine Janssens, Fotograferen is (g)een kunst. Werkboek fotografie, Utrecht (Landelijk Ondersteuningsinstituut Kunstzinnige Vorming) 1993. p. 12-14.

Ons Amsterdam 1995, foto op adreswikkel.

Ons Amsterdam februari 1995, p. 40-41.

[Brochure] Het Grote Genieten, Renkum (Bilderberghotelketen) september 1995.

Personeelsblad Sociaal Economische Raad 1998.

Leerlingenboek Goed Gelezen Groep 8, Den Bosch (Malmberg) 1999, p. 48.

[Brochure] Uit en thuis, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 2000.

[Brochure] Toen het land rijk en groen werd, Haarlem (Provincie Noord-Holland) oktober 2000, p. 2, 4, 14, 26, 36, 44.

Arthur Schmidt (samenstelling), De tafel van Pavlov. Recepten, tafels, tablemusic, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 2001, p. 45.

Jubileumkalender 2002. Stichting Stedelijke Fotografie Utrecht, Utrecht (Stichting Stedelijke Fotografie Utrecht) 2001, afb. augustus.

Holland. Kalender 2003 American Bookshop Amsterdam, Lilburn [USA] (Simpatico BV.) 2002, afb. mei.

[Affiche] XL-Jazz Buitenkunstorkest, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 2003.

Veilingcatalogus Veilinghuis Boven juni 2003, Amsterdam (Veilinghuis Boven) 2003.

[Affiche] XL-Jazz Buitenkunstorkest, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 2004.

[CD-boekje] XL-Jazz Buitenkunstorkest, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 2004.

Daniël Koning en Bernd Wouthuysen (samenstelling), Teder, z.p. [Amsterdam] (Lubberhuizen) 2006, ongepag.

De Architect 37 (december 2006) 12, p. 15.

Beeld (2008) 1, p. 16-19.


Prentbriefkaart “De Beugense Peel”, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 1999.

Prentbriefkaart “XLjazz”, Amsterdam (Stichting Buitenkunst) 2004.

Prentbriefkaart “Ingepakt”, Amsterdam (Art Unlimited) 2006.


1984 Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (Vrije opdracht: Britse landkaarten van Sfeer).

1985 Amsterdamse Kunstraad (Parapluweer).

1988 Amsterdamse Kunstraad (Ierse Dagen).

1989 Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (Vrije opdracht: A Prospect of the Sea, zwart-wit foto’s n.a.v. de poëzie van Dylan Thomas).

1990 Amsterdamse Kunstraad (My Irish Days).

1993 Provincie Noord-Holland (De Ijzeren Weg door Noord-Holland).

1994 Stad Utrecht (De Ijzeren Weg).

1999 Provincie Noord-Holland (Schermer, Beemster, Eilandspolder “van water tot land en van land tot water”).

Secondary bibliography

Corinne Noordenbos en Bob van de Berg (tekst en prod.), Themanummer portretten, Amsterdam (De Moor) 1983, ongepag. (met foto’s).

Anoniem [= Hans Aarsman], De stijl. Jaap Bijsterbosch, in Plaatwerk 3 (april 1986) 14, p. 34-43 (met foto’s).

Machiel Botman, Foto ’86 Amsterdam. Jaap Bijsterbosch, in Foto 41 (mei 1986) 5, p. 84-87 (met foto’s).

Anoniem, Workshops. Fotografie en literatuur. ]aap Bijsterbosch, in Noorderlichtkrant november 1990, p. 9.

Leo Divendal, “en ik het licht nu eenmaal zo versta”. Fotografie en literatuur in de GKf, in Foto 47 (juni 1992) 6, p. 47-62.

Jaarverslag Stichting Stedelijke Fotografie Utrecht 1994, p. 8.

Catalogus tent. Zeventien visies op Noord-Holland. Fotodocumentaire opdrachten 1991-1995, z.p. [Haarlem] (Provincie Noord-Holland) 1996, p. 42-43, 57-58 (met foto’s).

Anoniem, De Nuttigen van de Nacht, in Focus 88 (november 2001) 11, p. 15-19, 21-25, 27-32.

Catalogus GKf fotografen 2005-2006, Amsterdam (GKf) 2005, p. 22-23, 216 (met foto’s).

Anoniem [= Robert Theunissen], Jaap Bijsterbosch, in Focus 93 (mei 2006) 5, Reisfotografie Special, p. 28.


GKf, vanaf 1988 (bestuurslid 1991-1994, lid van aspirantencommissie vanaf 2007).


1981 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Stadsbeelden.

1981 (e) Hattem, Huize Laareind, Amsterdam CS.

1982 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, De Voorbijganger [Jaap Bijsterbosch en Rineke Dijkstra].

1983 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Griekenland Qaap Bijsterbosch en Addie Timmer].

1983 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Het Portret.

1983 (g) Montpellier, Mois de la Photo.

1985 (e) Amsterdam, De Moor, Those British “Atmospheres”.

1985 (e) Amsterdam, Walther Thomson Gallery, UK en Parapluweer.

1986 (g) Amsterdam, Galerie Nieuw Perspectief, Vijf visies op Europa.

1986 (e) Amsterdam, Galerie Procon, Zelfportretten.

1986 (g) Amsterdam, Maison Descartes, Qaap Bijsterbosch: Angleterre en Jolanda des Bouvries: Zelfportretten}.

1986 (e) Amsterdam, Theater Desmet, Reisfotografie (Foto ’86).

1987 (g) Amsterdam, Makkom, [overzichtstentoonstelling Vrije Opdrachten Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst].

1987 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Dagrecreatie Qaap Bijsterbosch en Lex van der Slot].

1987 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Een rondje van de Zaak.

1987 (g) Haarlem, Concertgebouw, [JHVU-tentoonstelling].

1988 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1987.

1988 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Laugharne, een dorp in Wales.

1988 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Map of Love.

1989 (e) Amsterdam, Fotogalerie 2½x4½, Dagdromen van vermaak.

1989 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Het andere gebouw (Foto ’89).

1989 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1988.

1989 (g) Amsterdam, Nieuwe Kerk, Foto ’89.

1989 (e) Amsterdam, Open Studio, “Het Plantaardig Licht“.

1989 (g) Amsterdam, De Populier, Dylan Thomas verbeeld (Foto ’89).

1989 (g) Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, De fotoruil/De andere keuze (GKf).

1989 (g) Amsterdam, Stopera, 25 Keer fotografie (Foto ’89)

1989 (g) Amsterdam, Theater Desmet, Beeld naar beeld [Jaap Bijsterbosch en Goos van der Veen] (Foto ’89).

1990 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1989.

1990 (g) Groningen, USVA-fotogalerie, Dubbeldruk (fotomanifestatie Noorderlicht 1990).

1990 (g) Norg, De Brinkhof, 48 uur Norg.

1990 (e) Rijswijk, Bedrijfsgebouw Shell.

1991 (e) Amsterdam, Fotogalerie 2½x4½ , A Prospect of The Sea [Foto’s naar aanleiding van poëzie van Dylan Thomas, gemaakt in Wales].

1991 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1990.

1991 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Een Rondje van de Zaak.

1991 (g) Groningen, USVA-fotogalerie, Beeld naar beeld [Jaap Bijsterbosch en Goos van der Veen].

1992 (g) Amsterdam, Fotogalerie 2½x4½, ‘en ik het licht nu eenmaal zo versta’.

1992 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1991.

1992 (g) Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Klein voorwerp van verlangen (GKf).

1992 (g) Zeeburg, Stadsdeelkantoor Zeeburg.

1993 (e) Amsterdam, De Moor, ‘Ireland on my mind’.

1993 (g) Amsterdam, De Moor, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1992.

1994 (g) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1993.

1994 (e) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, Plantaardig Licht 2.

1994 (g) Doesburg, Martinikerk, 48 uur Doesburg

1995 (g) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, Mijn belangrijkste foto van 1994.

1996 (g) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, 17x17x17

1996 (g) Amsterdam, De Zaaijer, 2 dimensies (GKf).

1996 (g) Naarden, Grote Kerk, Zeventien visies op Noord-Holland.

1997 (g) Utrecht, Architectuurcentrum, Uitzicht op Utrecht, selectie door Herman Hertzberger.

1998 (g) Den Haag, SER gebouw, Antwoord uit Amsterdam [Jaap Bijsterbosch en Dick Naber].

2000 (e) Amsterdam, WM gallery, Door het Oog van de Nacht.

2001 (e) Alkmaar, Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, [solotentoonstelling bij manifestatie] Neérlands Trots.

2001 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, De fotografenavond exposeert.

2001 (g) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor de Fotografie, [docentententoonstelling: project Fragmenten uit het Amsterdamse Stadslandschap].

2001 (g) Amsterdam, WM Gallery, 20×20 inches of Holland.

2001 (g) Amsterdam, WM Gallery, Selfish, zelfportretten.

2001 (g) Naarden, Bastion Oranje, Dicht op de huid: De GKf gezien door Miriam Bestebreurtje.

2001 (g) De Rijp, Grote Kerk [Grote Dam], Hart van Noord-Holland [historische foto’s van Reinhardt Herman Herwig en fotoimpressies n.a.v. opdracht Provincie Noord-Holland door Jaap Bijsterbosch].

2002 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Fotografenavond 2.

2002 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Holland Thank You.

2002 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Life is Short, Art is Forever.

2002 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Sterker na Kanker.

2002 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Galllery, The Wonder of Woman.

2002 (g) Amsterdam, Vondelpark, Het Foam in het Vondelpark.

2002 (e) Amsterdam, Waterstone’s Booksellers, If you go into the woods.

2003 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Tuliphoto.

2003 (g) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor de Fotografie, What happened to Robert Frank?

2003 (g) Amsterdam, VU ziekenhuis, Power of Life.

2003 (g) Amsterdam, WM Gallery, If you go into the woods.

2003 (g) Haarlem, Spaarnestad Fotoarchief, En zij schiepen het land.

2003 (g) Laren, Galerie Kessel, Focus on Photography.

2003 (g) Nijmegen, Radboud Ziekenhuis, Power of Life.

2003 (e) Purmerend, Projectgebouw “De Groene Long”, Polderlandschappen.

2004 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Waterfoto.

2005 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Een dag in Amsterdam, 16 september 2005.

2006 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Music in The Air.

2006 (g) Amsterdam, Gebouw Mercurius, Teder.

2007 (g) Amsterdam, The ABC Treehouse Gallery, Weer of geen weer.

2007 (g) Amsterdam, Amstelkerk, [foto’s van het atelier van Jo Hameleers bij schilderijententoonstelling van Jo Hameleers].

2007 (g) Amsterdam, Amstelkerk, Amsterdam in de Amstelkerk.

2007 (e) Amsterdam, Franjo Studio, Vanwege Mama.

2007 (g) Amsterdam, WM Gallery, They grow and keep silent [Jaap Bijsterbosch, Jac.B. Rieder en Maarten Brinkgreve].

2007 (g) Bredevoort, Foto 21, De Avonden (GKf).

2007 (g) Den Haag, Gemeentelijke Bibliotheek, Teder.

2008 (g) Amsterdam, Amsterdams Centrum voor de Fotografie, 70! Vrienden van Bob van der Berg.

2008 (e) Diemen, Gemeentehuis Diemen, Diemer Landschappen.

2008 (g) Maastricht, ’t Brandweer [Presentatieruimte van Stichting Ateliers Maastricht], De Avonden (GKf).

Radio and television programs

1990 [Interview n.a.v. groepstentoonstelling 48 uur Norg, in De Brinkhof in Norg] (Radio Stad Amsterdam).

1996 [Interview n.a.v. portret op tentoonstelling 17x17x17 in Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie] (Salto-tv).

2000 [Verslag van expositie Door het oog van de nacht, WM Gallery, Amsterdam] (Salto-tv).

2007 (8 november) Radio Pingpong, met als gast Jaap Bijsterbosch n.a.v. de expositie Vanwege Mama in de raamgalerie van Franjo Studio te Amsterdam (radio StadsFM).


Diemen, Jaap Bijsterbosch.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, bibliotheek en documentatiebestand.

Leusden, Jan Wingender (collectie nederlands fotoboek).

Internet (virtuele groepstentoonstelling Dark photography and poetry. A tribute to the absence of light).


Den Haag, Kunstcollectie Sociaal-Economische Raad.

Den Haag, Bedrijfskunstcollectie Shell.

Doesburg, Gemeentearchief Doesburg.

Haarlem, Noord-Hollands Archief.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden.

Utrecht, Stichting Stedelijke Fotografie Utrecht.