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Ah, I think you are arguing against (or assuming the OP's inquiry is) something along the lines of, "what happens when we find a field/photon somewhere in space and then quantize it?" This, to the best of my knowledge, is not how quantum mechanics is/can be done. Rather, you take the general properties of a classical field, irrespective of whether you have a field in front of your or not, and then quantize it. Only once you've reach that point, can you even begin to look for photons.I was being a bit dumb about the "e" thing!

I also take your point about the 'bound photon' situation but this is only relevant when it is actually bound - which is not the case when you consider a photon on its way from A to B, which is the situation when you have a flux of energy.

My argument against quantising a photon field still holds when you can't specify where and when you are measuring it, I think.

In more mathematical language, you first form (Hermitian) field operators -- these represent the quantization of the field. At that point, you use the operators on photon states to give you measurable amplitudes -- this represents your search for actual photons (remember, the quantum states are always there, whether or not they are occupied is the question).