The photographer Rudolf Holtappel (1923-2013) has not only created a unique visual record of the Ruhr area spanning more than 50 years, but he was also commissioned in the 1950s to take photos for very diverse projects, including assignments for theaters, advertising agencies, retail businesses, and the chemical and heavy industry. In addition, he has left behind a wealth of independent, experimental works and photos from his travels: For instance, he carefully dissected Manhattan’s urban structure with his camera, exploring New York from the roof of the Empire State Building. He equally captured the changes in the cities of the Ruhr valley where industrialization, the economic boom years, and the closure of mines resulted in the constant transformation of the region’s urban spaces. Holtappel’s photographic legacy contains numerous outstanding historical documents that show the social history of labor, of technology, and of industrial mass production. The rich diversity of his oeuvre is highlighted by his different commissions as well as by the use of his photos for a wide variety of purposes: as illustrations in books, as visual material for advertisements and corporate brochures, or as records of social events. He shot many pictures capturing social situations and everyday life in the Ruhr area. While his chief photographic ambition was to create realistic visual documents and snapshots with an acute eye for detail, he sometimes chose to take pictures from grotesque angles. The unique way in which he portrayed human beings often allows us to share Holtappel’s critical and witty approach.