Boubat was born in Montmartre, Paris. He studied typography and graphic arts at the École Estienne and worked for a printing company before becoming a photographer. In 1943 he was subjected to service du travail obligatoire, forced labour of French people in Nazi Germany, and witnessed the horrors of World War II. He took his first photograph after the war in 1946 and was awarded the Kodak Prize the following year. He travelled the world for the French magazine Réalités, where his colleague was Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, and later worked as a freelance photographer. French poet Jacques Prévert called him a “peace correspondent” as he was humanist, apolitical and photographed uplifting subjects.