While Gerhardt was growing up, photography was slowly gaining ground in the Netherlands. The first professional photographers were starting their careers, mainly in the cities, but also here and there in the countryside. They traveled around, like a kind of fairground attraction, or worked from a studio.
Gerhardt Niestadt took up photography as a hobby in 1858, when he was sixteen years old. He bought a small pair of binoculars at the fairground in Schagerbrug, which he uses to put together his first camera. He melted coins to produce the required gold and silver baths. Four years later, he turned his hobby into a second occupation. His main trade is working as a tailor, like his father, who had passed away by then. He established a photography studio with his brother Wilhelm Diederich in 1867: the Niestadt Brothers, in St. Maartensbrug.
Gerhardt was married in 1870 and the young couple moved to Dirkshorn, where he founded his own photography studio. Farmers were doing well economically in this period, so there was enough money for luxury novelty items like portrait photography.
Gerhardt moved to Schagen in 1891, where he established a combined photography studio and tailor's business in what is currently called the Molenstraat. In 1898, he passes on the photo studio to his younger brother Wilhelm. The technically gifted Gerhardt - he developed a three-color camera unique for its time and a custom-built telephone - moved to Delft.