There was an interesting discussion over at the Landscapist on what & how to teach in photography. Led me to think: what is the process I use to make an image?
I see it in 3 steps:
1. Looking for the subject
2. Capturing the subject
3. Processing the image
First up, I spend quite a bit of thought time (although that may be short in clock time) looking around and at things. If I see something interesting, I figure out what interested me and then look for an angle to best get that interest to the picture. These days, I usually go with the immediate reaction to something to determine its interest. In the past I might have spent more time considering whether it would make a keeper, these days I'm happier to throw stuff out than I was then.
Second is the actual getting it to the capture medium. This involves the mechanics of the camera, setting up tripod, careful checking of angles for clashing elements and other such technical stuff. I've never really specifically regarded compositional devices such as rule of 3rds, leading lines etc. Generally, stuff just looks right through the viewfinder. Sometimes I'm looking to bring specific elements together in a specific way. Mostly, though, it is about getting the stuff I want into the frame.
Lastly there is the bit about getting the image out of the camera and to the print (I always think of print as the final destination, whether it is or not). Apart from all the colour balance, contrast, sharpening etc there is the important bit on cropping. George Barr covers this much better (e.g. here) but my approach is similar to his - check the edges the ensure the wanted stuff is in and the unwanted (e.g. distracting) is out. Once in a while I can't quite crop out all that I want so I've been known to do a little cloning at the edges to remove the last trace of intruding elements. I don't care if that's cheating.
There it is - no formal art training here, I do look at quite a lot of pictures to see what works for me or not but that's the limit. I end up happy with the results and that's what matters to me.