What a photograph is, and what a photograph says, are two completely different concepts.
The former is an objective physical manifestation that proceeds according to the objective physical laws of nature. An expression of the Principle of Uniformitarianism. No subjective input is required. Or even allowed. If one-hundred-million years ago God and random statistics had entertained a moment when all of the necessary ingredients required to create finished Tri-X had miraculously fallen together in the proper order somewhere on a translucent rock, then when the sun arose the following morning a true photographic negative would have been created. No human beings would have been present. Or required. Or even existed. It would have just happened.
The latter can have as many different interpretations as there are people on this planet. No objective input is required. Or even allowed. If one-hundred-million years later a Neandertal couple happened upon that (archivally processed!) rock negative, then his interpretation of the image as an NFL wide-out reaching back to catch a pass would have been just as valid—and conversely just as invalid—as her interpretation of it as a figure skater performing a pirouette. And if the person reading this post later interpreted it as nothing more than a plate of scrambled eggs, then so be it. It's all good.
But the ultimate challenge for everyone, which I freely admit has turned out to be a far, far more difficult one to overcome than I ever in my wildest dreams had imagined it would be, is simply not to confuse the two concepts.
Once that fearsome conceptual hurdle has been successfully negotiated, THEN it's time to gaze into those eyes and pour the wine...