A photograph is a physical image within which different elements will provoke in the mind of the beholder an intellectual projection which will be transformed into a mental image. The elements themselves are actually nothing but props whose role is aesthetic and symbolic. By their nature, these codes, and the way they are represented, these objects will construct a text which is to be interpreted - or read, we might say. Thus photography can be likened to a form of writing which may encounter the imaginary. The etymology of the word "imaginary" is the latin word "imago", meaning an image in the widest sense of the word, a semblance.
This inescapable relation between word and image is what is specific to the image in the widest sense of the word. What makes a photograph unique is the instantaneous aspect which is actually the reason for its existence. Any photograph for which a perfectly-detailed representative painting could have been substituted becomes something which the artist has quite subjectively decided to do ; what it will not be is a work of photographic art. The instant will be perceived in the situation and/or in eyes of the person handling the camera through a subject which is mobile in the widest sense of the word, such as a photographer's eye which can sometimes be conditionned by an idea which surfaces only to disappear immediately. Even a landscape is a momentary subject because it evolves with the light, the wind and the position of the camera, but most of all because it assumes an interest at a precise instant, and sometimes none at all either before or after this instant.
Thus the idea of defining a photograph as a "temple", which in fact implies being taken out of one space and projected into another, enables it to find a place both in the eye of the beholder and in that of a photographer. When the eyes of both retain the same message, the goal has been acheived, the goal of any language: to be understood. We can complete this idea by making a point which may in a way seem contradictory : what we perceive is always superior to what is actually there.
An image in the widest sense of the word is sufficient unto itself and should need no words to explain or justify it. If anything like this is necessary, its presence proves that its creator has failed in his purpose. At the very most, a geographical indication, maybe a date, will help the photograph to assert its positionning in time and space. Imposing an explanation or explanations on the public is a form of authoritarianism which would be an implicit avowal of the work's failure. Creating a message, an intention, or a feeling from the starting can lead him to reject the work, or on the contrary to make it his own. Icons speak for themselves, they need no "crutches" ; they sow seeds in our minds as they travel through time. Such is the mighty destiny of images, among which only really great photos have a place.
For a photographer, this aspiration is a hope and a quest. He knows it is like an asymptote which is vital to the curve of his own destiny.