Understand visual design elements
Many photographers on purchasing a new camera are preoccupied with learning its various features and controls and no doubt, this is important in obtaining correctly exposed images and an appropriate depth of field. However, once the basic operation of the camera is mastered, one needs to direct their attention to seeing and composing effective images. Effective images are those that command attention and communicate some feeling to an audience. Capturing a “feeling” and your viewers’ attention is a demanding task that requires practice, experimentation and study. Studying the basic elements of visual design and understanding how they work will help new photographers improve their composition, but simply following rules does not guarantee success. Furthermore, how an audience responds to an image depends on their past experiences (memory), interests, and what it is that they are looking for. This is why the same picture often receives a variety of responses from different viewers. To create effective images a photographer must understand the way people respond to various kinds of visual organization. This involves learning the vocabulary of design, viewing examples of artwork that utilize effective design elements, and actively implementing components of design into the process of photography.
~R. Berdan from his article Composition and the Elements of Design