René Maltête was a French photographer and poet, was born on 8 May 1930 at Lamballe (Côtes-d’Armor, France).
He started taking pictures at 16; his first camera was a Pontiac 6×9.[n 1] In 1951 he went to Paris to become an assistant director, and in 1952, he started working with Jacques Tati, Claude Barma and René Wheeler. Times were tough, and from this point until 1973 he would have to do a great variety of menial work to survive in addition to his profession.
Maltête wanted to be a film director but lacked a camera. In 1954 he bought a Semflex 6×6 still camera and started taking photographs seriously.
In 1958, he integrated the Rapho picture agency.
In 1960, his first book Paris des rues et des chansons was published, after many rejections by other prospective publishers. With text by Jacques Prévert, Boris Vian, Georges Brassens, Charles Trenet, and Pierre Mac Orlan, it came out in three editions, and 35,000 copies were sold. Other books would follow.
Photographer, poet, humorist, early ecologist, Maltête captured amusing situations in everyday life. Funny, poetic and tender, his pictures were published in numerous magazines worldwide (Asahi Camera, Camera,Epoca, Life, Look, Paris-Match, Popular Photography, Punch, Stern), and many exhibitions contributed to popularize his work.
In 1973 Maltête moved to Dreux, where he and friends organized “Art en Dreux”; seven years later he would also found a poetry festival there.
In 1979 and 1980 Maltête was invited to the Rencontres d’Arles.
René Maltête died on 8 November 2000.