The hope of any artwork is that it will captivate the audience, even if that audience is only the artist himself, by appealing to its primal sensitivities or to its capacity to wonder. The enduring works do both.
Most artistic media create an easy proximity between the artist and the audience that naturally inspires the audience to find ways to narrow that gap even more. Dance, music, the spoken word, the written word, brushstrokes, all are created so deliberately and reveal enough of the artist’s creative process that they arouse a curiosity – why did the artist put this or that here instead of there, how did she know to do it the way she did it, what kind of person would make such a choice?
By contrast, the photographer’s hand is invisible. A photograph discloses nearly nothing of the temperament that created it – a finger on its creator’s hand simply pressed the shutter release and in an instant the image was made. The work shows no evidence of the photographer toiling over it as would a painter, a dancer, a singer, an author. The odds are that few in the audience will wonder for more than a moment about an artist who has invested so little and whose impact is so inconspicuous.
This leaves the photograph on its own to engage the audience with allure and aesthetic; it must captivate them all by itself.