I've always had an interest in photography and have had all different types of cameras over the years, but more recently when I’ve started to take photography a little more seriously, a simple thought occurred to me that I don’t think I really thought about much previously - What is it that I actually like most about what I’m photographing?
It sounds so simple and completely obvious but this one thought was something that changed my approach to capturing images and made me think much more about the best way to capture the shot.
It's very easy to be in an amazing setting and to be blown away by something you've seen, then to look through your viewfinder, set up the camera and take the photo only to be disappointed by what you've captured afterwards. I certainly know I do it all the time.
When you ask yourself the question 'What is it that I actually like most about what I’m Photographing?' before you even touch the camera, it starts to get you making decisions on how your going to photograph your subject and this will inevitably lead to a better composed and executed photo rather then just jumping in and snapping away.
The answer to the question could literally be anything, and there is certainly no right or wrong. It could be anything from the light illuminating the environment you're in or the scale between the two objects you're focusing on. It sounds obvious to say this but whatever it is you are trying to capture you should definitely always have this in mind; and let that guide your photograph to make sure it is captured in the best way to convey what it is you like about the scene.
As a hypothetical example, if you were photographing a city landscape and a particular building stood out to you because of its sheer size you might want to try to capture this. So asking yourself 'What is it that I actually like most about what I’m Photographing?' in this case the answer would be the buildings size, so what's the best way to depict this? The main way to convey size easily is to include a form of reference that the viewer can relate to, so in this case you would maybe want to include the surrounding buildings to convey the scale? So now you know that you are capturing the full scene it'll probably need a landscape format? And you'll want to be positioned in a place which gives the most interesting viewpoint.
These hoops we jump through during the photographic process are in many ways subconscious decisions but making this thought central to the creative decision making will definately help to make the difference to your shots.
For me i find that this analytical process will become progressively more and more specific and technical as you figure out different ways to capture your intended image or employ better technology to do so, but that same central thought should always be the same; 'What is it that I actually like most about what I’m Photographing?'
I hope it helps.