literally meaning "back figure", the term rückenfigur (traditionally associated with german romantic painters) describes a viewpoint that includes another person seen from behind. this figure directs us, the viewers, to behold the landscape in the scene. with no visible face, the figure feels anonymous, making the scene more universal and thematic. as viewers, we share the figure's vision, thus the art is forcing us to participate in this vision. the figure becomes a surrogate for the viewer.
and get this, when i brought this roll of film to the lab, i wound up in a discussion about these sorts of photographs with jessica caisse, who happened to be working on the very same thing.