Pictures — paintings, etchings, photographs, CGI — let us see what is not there. Or, rather, since what pictures depict is not really there, we do not really see the pictorial contents. But we seem to see the depicted things: we “see” them “in” the pictures. One kind of picture — photographs — would seem to have a special capacity to yield this experience of “seeming-to-see.” Over the last couple of decades, the question of what it is to see something in a picture — photographic or otherwise — has been lively discussed. The papers in this thesis are all attempts at contributing to this discussion.

Essay I treats the special subjective experience one undergoes in looking at photographs (as opposed to “handmade” images). I argue that this experience is (in part) due to our taking photographs as a certain kind of trace. Along the way, it is also argued that Kendall Walton’s “transparency thesis” — the thought that one literally, actually, sees photographed objects when one sees photographs of them — cannot explain the phenomenology of photography. Behind Walton’s transparency thesis lies a view of photography as an essentially causal medium; it is the merely causal process of photography that, on Walton’s view, makes photographs transparent. In Essay II, I offer an account of the role of causality in photography, and discuss its implications for the possible contents of photographs. Essays III and IV discuss pictorial perception in general. Essay III treats Richard Wollheim’s notion of non-localisation, and (what I call) pictorial perceptual presence, how things, which are strictly speaking not seen in an image, are still part of our apprehension of the picture. Essay IV gives an account of the seeing of states of affairs in pictures, and points to the significance of such seeing.