When I am out with my camera, creating photographs, I find one of the most important questions I can ask myself is “Why?”. Not so much “why am I taking photos?” but rather “Why am I taking this photo? Why does this scene inspire me?” which makes me pause and think about what in the scene it is that really interests me, inspiring a slew of other questions that can help me take a better picture in the end.
Is it how the subject blends with its background, or is it how it stands out from the background? If it’s about how it stands out, that can make me rethink my composition, my aperture, even the lens I am using. Why does it stand out, and how can I emphasize it in my picture. How can I draw people’s eyes to it. Should I blur the background? Or try for detail in it, that may just distract from the main subject? Which elements of the background will either add or detract? This helps me choose what angle I will be shooting my image from, and how much depth of field I want.
Once you realize what is important to the image that you see in your mind, you can begin to find a way to make those same factors important when your shutter clicks. The “why” helps to filter the image in the mind.