Did you know that photography literally means "Writing with light?" That is correct. "Photo" means "light" and "graphy" means "writing." Here is a graphologist is a handwriting analyst. So, effective use of light is at the heart of good photography.
Where am I going with this? Well, I think that with the increased emphasis on the number of MegaPixels and the intellect-snaring delusion that nirvana in photography is achieved by photoshop-ing, we are forgetting the basics. First things first, get the light, right.
Here are some basics:
1) If shooting a human subject take special care of how light causes shadows on different parts of the subjects face.
2) Be sensitive to "hot spots" being created in different parts of your photograph. Surely you do not want a shiny distractive element in your photo.
3) Look at your complete frame and see how light plays with; either by attenuating or amplifying; different elements. If a background element is being overplayed or under-emphasized, you are doing something wrong.
4) Not all your photography mistakes can be done away with on Photoshop. For instance, an image processing algorithm can never undo the crime of shooting when the color temperature is not appropriate.
5) Use a flash, but only if you have to. And then use a professional flash. The real cheap ones or the inbuilt fluorescent ones will make your pictures look unreal and also make them unappealing.
6) Make use of the best light source – the Sun. Used effectively, it generates the best pictures.
Here is to great handwriting – using light.