After studying chemistry in Dresden he started working as director of the Picture Archive of the Folkwang Publishing Company in Hagen. He published his first photography book in 1925 when he started to work as a freelance photographer. Two years later he exhibited in Lübeck. He developed his style for sharp and absolutely fidelity pictures, setting out the New Objectivity movement. In 1928 he published a new book of photography in Die Welt ist schön, showing industrial culture and technology. Until WWII he worked in a studio at the Folkwang Museum Essen and taught at the Folkwang School. He participated to the exhibition Film and Foto in Stuttgart, producing a large volume of city landscapes and industrial sceneries.