Photography is the art and craft of capturing on a surface what is made visible by the presence of light. You press the shutter to make an image appear on the film or as bits of data inside the machine. Yet, when you take a picture, you also encapsulate something that is not tangible and not visible: The story behind the image. It can be your thought process and your subjective ideas when you are doing Fine Art. It can be the actual stories of actual people who are living right now or use to live somewhere at the moment when the image was created. In the case of commercial photography, you participate in the creation of a fiction meant to make the viewer feel connected to a brand or to a particular object and influence his behaviour so that he will buy a product and talk about a brand positively (at least, make him remember the brand).
So, in fact, it is customary for the photographer to capture the invisible alongside the visible in his images. The image is also a place where are projected the thoughts, feelings, desires, dreams, urges , memories of the viewer. It is something meant to draw out as much as it is something meant to fill in. When you look at an image, the image calls out to you. It is a common motif in literature to have someone completely absorbed in the adoration of an image. Narcissus is the obvious example from mythology. A man who was so beautiful that he ended up dying, transfixed by his own beauty. There are other stories like that. Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun goddess who, when she was lured out of the cave she entered as a protestation against the mischiefs of her brother, Susano-o, was greeted by a radiant face staring at her. The figure was so dazzling that she got confused for a moment, long enough for the god Tajikarao to close the door of the cave behind her so that the sun would never disappear from the sky again. She was deceived by her own image, reflected in a mirror.
There is also the notion that an image can create scares. Some images of violence and horror can stay with you for life. Images like the little girl (Phan Thị Kim Phúc), skin burning from a napalm attacks during the Vietnam war (by photographer Nick Ut) or the image of a man being shot in the head in Saigon (by Eddie Adams). You might also stumble upon the most horrible images of torture and murder if you stay on the “bad parts” of the internet for too long. But these nasty images also call to us. There is a sordid interest for the most extreme images. Perhaps we seek these images to test our courage or perhaps we want to reassure ourselves. We want to know that there are actual monsters out there and that we are not of their numbers. Beautiful or Horrible, there is an invisible force, trapped inside of an image for sure.