I don't know if photography makes people a bit eccentric or if you need to be a bit off kilter to get into the game in the first place. Either way a photographer has little quirks and oddities to them that non-photographers (and I include the self-obsessed selfie proliferators in that group) find perplexing and even annoying. I'm a firm believer in the adage that knowledge is the antidote to fear, and maybe by explaining myself I can put non-photogs a little more at ease with the rest of us.
First of all, We don't see things like the rest of you do. While you might see a field of beautiful wildflowers on a bright summer's day and experience a feeling of joy, I see blown out highlights, awful shadows, and a lack of clouds in the background that would add much needed depth if they too weren't blown out by that blasted sunlight that I can't even polarize into submission at this angle. Mother Nature is the biggest diva model you'll ever meet. Always demanding things be done her way with scant regard for my needs, but as a non photographer you wouldn't get that. You see a beautiful field of wildflowers. I'm seeing nature's contempt for me.
That woman I was staring at? Yes! Did you see the bone structure in that face? How sharply defined her eyes were, and those amazing skin tones? The way the late afternoon sun left a radiant auburn halo around her head? No I didn't notice she was in a bikini. Well, I don't expect you to believe me. You just don't get her on as many levels as I do. Besides, that pierced belly button would have been a distraction in the corner of the frame.
Trust me, the sun is cascading beautifully through her hair. (Not pictured: The Sun)
I've noticed on cold, dreary winter nights that houses using lighting in the 2700-3000K temperature range cast a beautiful warm glow from their windows. I've also noticed that people get cranky when they see you staring at their house on cold, dreary winter nights. Reassurances of "Don't worry, I'm just a photographer!" fall flat on its inhabitants, who for all their lack of artistic vision may as well be surrounded by bluish 5000k bulbs if they are just going to pull down all their blinds like that.
I should offer one apology on behalf of all of us for asking so many questions at the movies after missing major plot points while we were trying to figure out how a scene was lit, and paying more attention to changes in depth of field than the dialogue. So thanks in advance for filling us in on what we missed, though don't worry if it's Vince Vaughn or Russell Brand who was speaking. We've long ago memorized the same character they play in every movie.
Everything is different to us. You see wrinkles, we see character. You see a door, I see the frame. You see litter, I see a statement about society. You see a sunset, I see a cliche to be avoided.
We're photographers, and we'll always see things in a different way. So if you see us gazing for extended periods at the opposite sex (or even the same one), admiring the neighbourhood architecture, getting down on all fours to shoot a beer can laying in the dirt, or staring contemptuously at the midday sun, just understand that there's nothing nefarious about it. We're just doing what we have to do to better our craft.
Photo credit: Yuliana Orangold (Creative Commons)