J. C. Lamster was a soldier, cameraman, and curator. At the beginning of the 20th century, he served as a soldier in the Dutch East Indies. During a leave in the Netherlands in 1911, he was commissioned by the Koloniaal Instituut in Amsterdam to shoot footage in the Dutch East Indies. He was chosen on the advice of former General Van Heutsz as one of the few officers with an interest in the local population and their culture.
In order to learn the film trade, Lamster briefly worked with the French company Pathé Frères in Paris. From March 1912 until about May 1913, he shot footage in the Dutch East Indies. He meticulously recorded the lives of Europeans and natives, first assisted by cinematographer Octave Collet, and then by a certain Van der Kloet. Lamster later handled the camerawork himself. He sometimes staged scenes, and always filmed from one perspective, namely the medium long-shot.
When the films were completed, Lamster retired from the Army, and became curator at the Bataviaansch Genootschap in the Dutch East Indies. After returning to the Netherlands in 1924, he became the curator, and in 1936 the acting director, of the Koloniaal Instituut’s Department of Ethnology. He continued working there until 1938. That same year he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau.