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Why do you photograph ugly things, photographer?
#03 – Present photography meets future economics
P: Hey, economist, why do corporations often build quite ugly corporate headquarters like the one from an energy company in Essen, Germany, where I walked by last weekend?
E: How should I know? Am I CEO? Counterquestion, why do you photograph those ugly things?
P: What would you photograph if you were a photographer?
E: Nice things.
E: Because nice things are nicer.
P: Look. Most people photograph nice things. Because we like to live in a beautiful world. And because we want to show off. We want to show others what beautiful surroundings we can afford. And we want to make other people jealous. But quite often, that's precisely what I don't like. It bores me. I want to capture the world as it is.
E: What is that supposed to help?
P: We often don't look closely at the world. We just see what we want to see. Photographs can force us to see things differently. As a viewer, we can only watch what the photographer has captured, and in addition, we have time to look at a frozen moment. Looking at those unique situations can help seeing the world in a new way.
E: Seeing the world as it is. I like the idea. Why then is your photo in black and white?
P: I would argue that it can help seeing the world more clearly. But let's talk about black-and-white photography another time. I have little time today.
E: Wait a minute. I just got a thought. In a way, isn't photography like economics? In photography, you often look at people's behaviours and the result of their actions. So is my profession. We both use a certain method – there is a camera, here is economic theory – to look at the world differently, to recognise things you otherwise hadn't noticed.
P: That makes sense to me. Could it be, economist, that in the end, we have different approaches to similar interests, that we just use different instruments to satisfy our need to understand how people live together? Could it be that the two of us are sometimes closer than we think?
E: You scare me a bit.
P: Emotions don't seem to be your thing.
E: Seems so.
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