I have a photo in critique which I had this type of experience with.
It is a photo that I personally love. But in the past I could never seem to get the right crop and right contrast with it. The crop was the biggest problem. I never really felt good about it.
Then I realized something very important - I was literally thinking inside the box.
Right now I can only work digitally and have the results printed on a Frontier (this will hopefully change this summer by the way). To do this cheaply I get a bunch of images together and save them as 300dpi 4x5s or 8x10s. If I put them all in the same directory, the Frontier machine will just read them all and print them off. That way I get the "reprint" discount on every image after the first one. It saves me a bundle.
Thing is, I kept cropping for the 4x5/8x10 aspect ratio! I had gotten so used to the concept of working within those parameters that I never thought to leave them! Then I was playing around and came up with the rather long crop that I have posted on APUG. I think it looks much better and serves the image well. I have also learned to stop thinking inside the 4x5 box and to expand my horizons a bit!
The other thing I try to keep in mind is the fact we don't see the same way a camera does. The fact is, our brains do a ton of processing with every "image" we see.
Peripheral vision is a good example. When you look at a scene, only the center of your field of vision is really viewable. Anything towards the edges of you FOV is sort of indistinct. You can sense motion there well enough, and you know generally that something is there and what color it is, but you can't see any detail. A good example is the fact that you can't read with peripheral vision.
But if you took a picture of the same scene with a lens that exactly matched the focal length of your eyes, you could see things on the edges of the image perfectly well. The lens captures it all (assuming a decent lens). The lens sees more than we do.
With that in mind, I think it is a mistake to even try to equate a lens with the human eye. They are two very different things. And we must be aware of this because as we all know, what we see with our eyes may not be what the camera sees.