Monshouwer graduated in graphic design at the Academy of the Visual Arts in Rotterdam in 1975. As co-founder of a film production company, he initially pursued a career in filmmaking, eventually filming and editing over a dozen documentaries for national television.
He got involved in photography in 1982 as the visual editor of the Dutch weekly magazine Nieuwe Revu, responsible for photography and design. Four years later, Monshouwer was appointed director of the internationally renowned Canon Photo Gallery in Amsterdam. In 1992, he resigned to become the founding director of the National Institute for Photography in Rotterdam.
He takes great pride and joy in the years that he was involved with World Press Photo, as a board member and from 1992 until 2004 as the secretary of the international jury.
In 2006, he changed his focus to the business side of photography and became commercial director at Hollandse Hoogte, the leading independent photo agency in the Netherlands.
Monshouwer went independent in 2009 and started Pictureinside, a consultancy for visual communication. Two years later he co-founded SocialPeople, a full-service social media agency.
Monshouwer is now a partner at iBMP, which provides business innovation for photographers, and the co-founder of OnePhotoWorld Foundation, an initiative to empower majority world photographers. In addition, he also writes about the business side of photography on fotografenondernemen.nl.