Part of my job as a "people on location photographer" (as I like to bill myself), is to be aware of my surroundings when I'm shooting. But as you can imagine, it's hard to turn that awareness off and I find myself constantly seeing photo opportunities, whether on the job or not. This is a good thing, as I get to experience the world in a constant state of discovery or unfolding--I never know what I'll see next and I like that.
For example, I was in Washington, DC last month, talking to Congressmen on Capitol Hill about copyright reform; it's one of the roles I play as Co-Chairman of APA/NY, a trade organization that supports photographers and the business of photography (Google it, then join--you really should join if you're a photographer). As I was walking between floors in the Rayburn House Office Building, I noticed how beautiful the stairway was. I walked all the way to the top floor of the stairwell and snapped a few shots, but I needed a focal point; I needed a person.
As would happen, a Capitol Hill Police officer saw me and stopped to question why I was loitering in the stairwell. I'm glad I had a digital camera so I could show him on the screen what I was doing and why I was waiting for the right person wearing the right clothes to walk in the right spot. Officer Patrick (he asked me not to use his last name) was suspicious--that's his job--but he was also curious and willing to see the same old thing in a fresh way. As he left me he said, "I've been working in this building for 5 years and I've never noticed how beautiful the stairs were". His comment made my day and reminded me of what a gift photographers are; we see the world in unique ways and get to share our vision and our passion with others every day. So keep your eyes peeled, you never know when or where you'll see your next photo op--or whose way of seeing the world around them you may change.