Born in Randfontein, South Africa, in 1930.
Goldblatt was the third son of Eli Goldblatt and Olga Light both of whom came to South Africa as children with their parents, to escape the persecution of the Lithuanian Jewish communities in the 1890’s.
He became interested in photography while at Krugersdorp High School and after matriculation in 1948 wished to become a magazine photographer. However the field was almost unknown in South Africa at that time and after trying unsuccessfully to enter the profession he went to work in his father’s men’s outfitting store in Randfontein.
Since September 1963, he devoted all of his time to photography. His professional work has been almost entirely outside the studio and has involved a broad variety of assignments for magazines, corporations and institutions in South Africa and overseas. His personal work since 1961 has consisted of a series of critical explorations of South African society a number of which have been exhibited and published in book form.
In 1998 he was the first South African to be given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, when photographs from the essay, South Africa: the Structure of Things Then, were shown. Since 1999 he has been photographing aspects of post-apartheid South Africa and exploring the use of colour photography in his personal work. Intersections, an exhibition of this work opened at the Museum Kunst Palast, Duesseldorf in June 2005 and at Camera Austria in Graz in November 2005. A book of the same title was published by Prestel, Munich, in June 2005.
His work is part of many international public collections and he had published many books.
David Goldblatt presented his work at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2006: Goldblatt at the église Sainte-Anne.