I think a better approach may be to consider our relationship with photons first.
Consider all of the ways that photons are necessary for us to “do” _any_ science, not just physics.
We have a continuous relationship with the photon : a handful of photons make it through the atmosphere after having been shot out from the sun’s core, bounce off of stuff and a couple land into the 2mm circle of our pupil and into our brains, turned into signals by the optic nerve first, split down different pathways, engaging different systems until coming together as a coherent ‘something’… all happening rather quickly (from our POV) and continuously, even as we scan an area to get a complete picture.
But we’ve evolved to not need all that many photons.
We don’t use that many of them as we go about our day.
I mean think about it: How many photons can be expected to just so happen to enter the 2mm holes in our heads? Not many.
So, thankfully, we have memory which reconstructs the majority of what we see. Much fewer photons required than would be if we did not have memories.
So my first response (second) to the nature of photons? Photons are necessary. For humans. We need them. They’re not optional.
[and this doesn’t even get into the level of virtual photons but their effect on humans is secondary to the photons we can utilize directly for vision. They’re primary for so long as we need them to see and for so long as we utilize visual observation as an important method of evidence gathering]