Walk the Walk.
Talk the Talk.
Know The Rules.
If you want to be a good photographer, it's important to know the rules of photography. If you want to be a great photographer, it's important to know when to break the rules!
Photography has some simple rules that govern things like composition. Although, frankly, they are stolen. Many if not most come from the rest of the arts. Painting, mostly.
About composition, there's a general rule: The Rule Of Thirds
Usually, we divide the photograph into three vertical and three horizontal zones. The most visually appealing place to put on of your main subjects is at one of the intersections on these zones. As above, we place the Red-Breasted Nuthatch about one third up and one third in from an edge.
Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way!
Use a few leading lines or other techniques can help you to lead your viewer around the image. Over the years, painters, and photographers have found that if you have a subject facing off to the right, it will sometimes lead to the viewer moving on to the next image. So, many photographers try to have subjects focusing to the left. Or have objects moving or pointing left. this leads the viewer back into your image.
Leading lines, like a sidewalk moving from down below, and up into a photograph can bring the view into your image. Parallel lines, like telephone poles, or a diagonals, like a stream, a road, a path can bring your viewer in. Use natural paths, natural streams, rivers and trees to direct the eyes around an image.
You're the photographer. You decide what image to make. What to emphasize, and what to focus on. So use the tricks and tips to lead your viewer around you image.
More On Composition