Born in Mardin, Ottoman Empire, he emigrated to Canada in 1937 and went to work with his brother. In 1963, he took a picture of the floating logs on the Ottawa River, called Paper and Politics, which was put on the back of the 1969-1979 series Canadian $1 note.
He was one of the founders of the Canadian Tulip Festival and its honorary president at the time of his death. According to mayor Bob Chiarelli, "He helped put Ottawa on the map. Probably the biggest and best brand for Ottawa was his tulips." <ref>Caroline Murray, "Mourning a Rare Talent: Malak Karsh's exquisite photos chronicled a city and a nation," Ottawa Sun, 9 November 2001, p. 4.</ref>
In 1996, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2005, the city of Ottawa established the Karsh Prize, honouring Ottawa photo-based artists, in honour of Malak and Yousuf Karsh.<ref>"The Picture of Excellence," The Ottawa Citizen, 14 February 2005, p. B4.</ref>
He is buried in Wakefield, Quebec.