This is true, not only of photography but of all images from the child’s drawings through the paintings and sculptures found in world class museums. Images are only one form of narrative or story. We all tell stories all the time. It is through narrative that we make sense of things. This is true for each of us and for our societies. It is how we have always done so, as a communicative and social species. (Your resident philosopher has written a semi-scholarly essay, “The Role of the Narrative”. (If you are interested, it can be found at: the hot link or http://retreadresources.com/blog/?p=46)
Narratives are highly powerful in society and many believe societies could not possibly function without them. I also believe we individuals could not function without them. Now not all narratives are powerful or inspiring. Single images as found at AIFI are often very brief. That does not mean the are in any way lacking. Some of the most power narratives in our society are only a loan image, simple sentence or independent clause.
Take any image and you can see immediately what story or stories it is telling. The image narrative has a power that oral and written narratives do not. That is the power of what I call “draw”. Images have a power to draw the view into its narrative, so that the viewer begins adding his or her own story or emotions, feelings, sensibilities and so forth, to what has been captured or created.
Long ago the poets recognized this power; often they draw the strongest verbal images their abilities and language allow. Often we say the visual image speaks to me or something to that effect. What we mean by that, I think, is the image presents an opportunity for me to impose or imprint my personal narrative upon it. The very act of our mental verbalization or conversion of image to language, is that imprinting process. We do this with music as well. Narrative is how we allow our imaginations to engage both reality and fantasy.
Sometimes an image or perhaps a series of images will stimulate our intellect and we not only imprint our narrative but we can even hear, in our mind’s ear as we recall musical works or spoken words. I believe this is a part of the creativity and imagination, each and every one of us has. Images can stimulate the creative processes and has done so for most of us. It is not just the line, shades and tones, it is the story that spurs this inspiration.