I've found that I don't take my camera out as often as I have in years past. I spent a week at my mother's farm in Kentucky and only shot for one hour on one day. Much like working in a candy store can ruin your taste for candy, a gazillion photography courses, books and tutorials have diluted my need to have a camera with me at all times.
My old camera has huge chunks of plastic missing from the lens, tons of scratches and sand permanently embedded everywhere that I can't reach. I got up one day, turned it on and after only three years, my first DSLR had given up the ghost. It now lives in either the toy bin or around the neck of my trusted assistant Oliver. I thought that I needed it with me all the times in case that *perfect* moment came along to take the best picture EVER!
I was completely unknowingly unaware of the rules of composition and design. I knew that when I liked a picture, I *REALLY* liked it! But I didn't know why I liked it. The great 'they' say that great pictures are not taken, they are made. After a gazillion hours of study and practice, I finally know what that means.
Great photographs have so many things in common. They have symmetry, lines, color, shape, form, balance, and my two favorites, depth and texture. There are so many elements of design. These are just a few. Not all pictures have all of these qualities but all great pictures have at least one or more of them. I look at pictures in ads, books, TV, movies, billboards, online and everywhere with a totally different focus. When I have my camera in my hand I look through the viewfinder with a totally new goal.
My favorite shots from the farm are filled with texture. They may not be award winning photographs but they are rich with meaningful texture. The giant tractor wheel tracks remind me of my Step-Dad Ray and his big smile watching Oliver dance in the mud. I love the way Ollie's little fingers frame his face and almost point you to his eyes filled with excitement at being so dirty. I have completely fallen in love with photography. And am relieved that I don't have to drag my camera everywhere to get the best pictures EVER! :)
A few book recommendations if your interested in learning more. :)