punctum

I've been thinking a lot lately about what draws me to certain photographs. Lately the most inspiring images I've seen are, from a technical outlook, absolutely terrible and yet they stick with me and stay in my mind. Then today I came across this quote that helped to explain that.

 ... it is this element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me. A Latin word exists to designate this wound, this prick, this mark made by a pointed instrument: the word suits me all the better in that it also refers to the notion of punctuation, and because the photographs I am speaking of are in effect punctuated, sometimes even speckled with these sensitive points; precisely, these marks, these wounds are so many points. This second element which will disturb the studium I shall therefore call punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole - and also a cast of the dice. A photographs's punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida.