A photograph should “work,” should have meaning, in isolation. I suppose that really means that it should work without any context other than shared culture. Without my words, you can know that this is a Japanese Garden (though perhaps not in Oregon), know that it’s an artificial simulacrum of some elegant natural setting—but can the sense of calm in being in that place be conveyed by the image? (I suspect that this aspect might be the easiest to convey.)
On the southern coast of Brazil, not far from where I took this shot, this older gentleman was fishing as the day came to an end. He was perched at the end of this rocky outcropping, gently casting every minute or so. He was there for quite a while, but I never saw him catch anything.