When discussing the differences between film and digital shooting, many photographers who have done both, will say they thought more before shooting when using film, simply because they had to. Often the limitations imposed on a process create a natural balance that when removed take away more than just a perceived inconvenience.
I have noticed something in my photography that I have always been suspicious of happening. I have become a shooter first, then a (limited) thinker after. I have reduced my thought processes to post processing rather than pre shooting considerations. The reality is that much of digital photography requires "pre visualising" as Ansel Adams would say. That is to photograph with the full process and end point (print) in mind. Digital allows those who fall into the trap of clattering away, never truly forming a clear idea of the image, to fall into the trap of assuming Photoshop will fix it. Even those who once had to save up all week to get 1 or 2 films processed and buy replacements can fall into this trap, indeed we may be the worst offenders.
On one hand my street photography looks to have benefitted from the shoot fast and instinctively, think later approach, but I cannot remember the last time I used a tripod and took my time to create a deliberate image. Patience has always been my short coming, but the limits of film definitely slowed me enough to be a benefit creatively.
Ming Thein, on his blog has talked about the 4 (or later 5) things that make a good photograph. I will not repeat (or copy) his words here, but put forward my own thought process and look at the areas I feel I fall short.
Let me introduce the 4 C's
Concept. Be it capturing a fleeting moment or a determined process, you must have a strong concept. This is often based on the subject and its surroundings, in context to your intended image and gets stronger with experience and planning. Sticking to a vision benefits consistency and output.
Composition. Our choices in focus, perspective, depth of field and subject placement are all parts of the process of composition. Primarily technical and often habitual or systematic, composition is the most creative, but potentially the most limiting of the three C's as it is in essence just photographic technical skill.
Connection. The chances are if you connect to your subject, your audience will connect with your resulting image. Timing the critical moment, showing empathy, humour or surprise and a sense of compositional harmony all contribute to your and your viewers connection to the image. A technically poor photograph with strong emotional connection always trumps a technically strong, but unconnected image.
Completion. What was the above all for? The completed image, be it a print or a screen saver is why that we do it. Post processing should not be the bulk of the process, but it is an important element, that should add the final elements to the already strong image. No image in the digital era (or the film era for that matter) can be said to be perfect without the smallest bit of tweaking. The camera formed jpeg image is in camera processing and the RAW image is effectively un processed, so nothing can be said to be able to stand "pure" of any input.
A challenge for you now. Look at your own processes and ponder your strongest and your weakest of those mentioned above. It may help you grow as a photographer.