“Tools are easy to learn. Training your eye takes time.” – Jeff Sheldon
It’s fun to laugh at a graphic designer when they use Comic Sans. “What are they thinking?” the cry goes. “Don’t they know.”
Often, they don’t. Often, the “graphic designer” is a secretary at a church making a community dinner flyer. She doesn’t know any better.
So it goes with any art form. The inappropriate HDR, the selective color, the breaking of any “rules” of photography – it’s often a new photographer who is mimicking what he or she sees elsewhere, ignorant of the kitsch they’re putting on display. They haven’t developed good taste.
(Tangent: Go look at Flickr’s Explore page and you’ll see lots of birds, landscapes, flowers, and light painting. I wonder – because that’s what’s being put forward as popular work on Flickr, is that why so many people make photos of wildlife and macro blossoms?)
After absorbing tons of good photography (and shooting a ton), you can acquire self awareness and taste. It’s like this with any craft. The more good work that you devour, and the more you practice, the more you can season your own projects with a unique viewpoint.
My goal is always to look back at my old work and cringe. That’s how I know I’m developing my taste.