Like most photographers of his generation, Ed van Wijk was self-taught. At the age of twelve his grandfather gave him a box camera, and when he was sixteen he bought a Rolleicord. At school he acquired some experience with candid camera photography, taking photographs in the classroom unnoticed. In spite of the not very bright perspective for the future he decided to turn his hobby into his profession, thus making a definite choice in favour of photography. In addition to his Rolleicord, Ed van Wijk soon bought a Leica 35-mm camera.
Although Van Wijk was later to concentrate almost exclusively on black-and-white photography, initially he applied himself intensively to colour photography. His early experiences with colour photography resulted in his first large official commission: he documented the famous sixteenth-century stained-glass windows by the Crabeth brothers in the Church of Sint Jan in Gouda, because of the threat of war.
At first, Ed van Wijk's work consisted mainly of portraits and wedding photographs. During the Second World War he photographed the destruction of Rotterdam and crashed German planes. He also took photographs at Dolle Dinsdag ('Crazy Tuesday', 5 September 1944) and in the same year at the evacuation of the Den Haag Marlot quarter and the village of Wassenaar, the requisitioning of bicycles by the Germans, the bombardment of the Bezuidenhout in Den Haag and, finally, the Liberation.
After the war he made portraits and pictures of children, as well as photo reports for the theater group Residentie Toneel. His photographs appeared in the women's magazines Eva and Wij Vrouwen.
One of the first photo books in which his work appeared was Nederland - wonder uit water (The Netherlands - Miracle out of Water, 1954) published by W. van Hoeve after the example of publishing house Contact's series ‘De schoonheid van ons land’ ('The Beauty of our Country'). This was followed by the books: ‘s-Gravenhage (1955), Amsterdam (1958), Rotterdam (1958), Leiden (1961), Madurodam (1963) en Friesland (1963).
From 1952 onwards, Ed van Wijk was a core member of the Dutch Photographer's Art Society. In his work the influence of Otto Steinert's ‘subjective’ photography is clearly in evidence. In the sixties he was a member of GKf for a short period.
Having made a name for himself with his photo books, he was given teaching positions at a number of academies.
In 1957 he became a teacher at the Vrije Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Den Haag, in 1959 at the Haagse School voor Fotografie en Fototechniek and in 1964 at the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Arnhem.