His is considered a photographic pioneer in the use of electric light in photography. Amongst his portraits are architect William Burges (c1880), Alexandra, Princess of Wales,A. East. Housman, actresses Mary Anderson (1887) and Dorothy Dene (1880s), Sir Edwin Arnold, bodybuilder Eugen Sandow (1889) and explorer Fridtjof Nansen (1897). Born at Zierikzee in the Netherlands on 30 August 1838, Van Der Weyde was the son of Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde.
In 1850 his family emigrated to the United States and he later served in the American Civil War.
He emigrated to England in 1870. He set up his photographic studio at 182 Regent Street in London in 1877, and began using the logo "The Van der Weyde Light".
That year he became the first photographer to install and take portraits by electric light which permitted him to make many portraits in a short period of time.