it's fitting that david maltby's last major assignment was shooting the tear gas mayhem at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City for NOW. The guy with the long hair and easy laugh was most himself when chronicling the social movements he loved. Over the last two decades, there were few major demos where he wasn't present with his all-seeing camera.
Maltby, who grew up in Leaside, began his career in the early 80s in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. There, he learned the political power of the shutter. As an artist, he's best known for his images of Toronto's homeless. "When I shoot documentary images, I like to go back to the people I'm photographing," Maltby told me while discussing images of the Rooster Squat that he exhibited in a trailer outside the Dufferin Mall. "Squatters have been burned too many times not to offer them input into how they'll be portrayed.'
No photographer had a better grasp of these realities."David was interested in embedding his images in the social conscience," observes Rafael Goldchain, who taught him at Humber College, where Maltby studied after U of T.
"He did this work for himself, not as the result of an assignment. He was more interested in having his images in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty newsletter than somewhere that would advance his career.'
In addition to his editorial assignments for NOW and other publications, Maltby worked with local social agencies including Anishnawbe Health, Kytes, Beat the Street and Field to Table. He was also a longstanding member of the Gallery 44 co-op.
Friends who saw Maltby as recently as the Sunday before his death say he was a little run-down, having spent Saturday night in the darkroom. Three days later he was found unconscious. He died Thursday morning at Toronto Western Hospital of bacterial meningitis, with his sisters, Patricia and Sue, at his side. He is also survived by his parents, Quintin and Mary Lou.
Gallery 44 (401 Richmond West) hosts a celebration of Maltby's life on Sunday (May 27) at 7 pm. 416-979-3941.