Born in 1908 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, René-Jacques defined the characteristics of his particular style early on in his career: exacting, measured and respectful of the subject. A cultivated photographer and an unparalleled technician, he spent almost forty years carrying out all types of commissions. He documented social problems caused by the economic crisis of the 1930s in Paris. Equally sought after for his industrial reporting as for his architectural views, René-Jacques also became involved in still photography: Remorques by Jean Grémillon in 1939. During this same period, he also focused his attention on illustrating literary works. He illustrated Carco's Envoûtements de Paris (1938), Peisson's La mer est un pays secret (1948) and Monterlant's Les Olympiques (1948) amongst others.
After the Second World War, his work is marked by countless works of photographic documentation and publications on rural and city life in France. His unaffected photographs of country landscapes received as much success as his monumental views of Paris. Not only was he committed to turning photography into a key means of expression, but he also strove to give the profession of photography recognition in its own right through his militant activity in associations such as the Rectangle or Le Group des XV.
René-Jacques took a detached and restrained approach to man and technique, nature and civilisation. Like Rodin, for whom he photographed a large part of his works, René-Jacques thought that art is a matter of both science and patience.