David Goldblatt was born in Randfontein in 1930, the third son of Eli and Olga Goldblatt, who came to South Africa to escape conditions in Eastern Europe.
His father died in 1962 and David sold the business in 1963 and decided to become a photographer. Gradually he built up a professional practice mainly in the field of photojournalism, specializing in work outside the studio photographing for magazines, corporations, advertising agencies and institutions. His personal work has consisted of a number of critical explorations of South African society, several of which have been exhibited and published in book form.
Recognizing the need for a facility to teach visual literacy and photographic skills particularly to people disadvantaged by apartheid, he founded the Market Photo Workshop in 1989.
He regards himself as an unlicensed, self-appointed observer and critic of South African society which he continues to explore with the camera. He lives in Johannesburg with his wife Lily. His children are Steven, Brenda and Ron and grandchildren Daniel and Samuel.
He has received numerous awards and some notables include an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from University of the Witwatersrand 2008 and the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award Lifetime Achievement Award. His work resides in the collections of the South African National Gallery, Cape Town, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and The French National Art Collection. Published works include Kith, Kin and Khaya, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, 2010, Intersections Intersected, Museum Serralves, Porto, 2008, Some Afrikaners Revisited, Umuzi, Cape Town, 2007, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years, Actar and Macba, Barcelona, 2001, Particulars, Goodman Gallery Editions, Johannesburg, 2003 [Awarded the Arles Book Prize for 2004]. He has exhibited in numerous exhibitions that include Rencontres Arles 2006, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, 2007 and Huis Marseilles, Amsterdam in 2007.