There is no point shooting a lot if you never analyze what you have done.
The process that should go hand-in-hand with shooting more is analyzing more. Analyze more means to bring more conscious consideration to all the images you look at, both yours and other people’s, and to setting aside the time to actually go through your own work with a careful eye.
This ties in with our previous tip on Reconsideration is Good about the value in going through your old images and reconsidering your reactions to them, but extends it to ensure that you not only shoot a lot but sit down and have a good look at what you have done. This allows you time to examine your results, see what is working and what is not and to determine directions you might want to explore further.
Without this analysis, taking images becomes only a learning process at the time of shooting. This has its own benefits in training your eye to see possibilities, etc, but you are missing out on a lot of the learning potential if you do not follow this up with carefully examining the results.
One of the benefits of shooting digitally is the EXIF data the camera stores along with the image. This can help you greatly in your analysis. Just what was the aperture and focal length that gave you exactly the depth of field in that shot your really like, for example?
Some people like a formal analysis approach, with checklists and rating sheets (or a rating system in your software, as in Aperture), while others prefer a less formal approach. Either way, make sure it is thorough. Check exposure and sharpness, composition and color, positioning of elements, expressions, eye lines. Look for cropping options, areas you can improve with processing, aspects you need to reshoot for and things you really need to watch for when you shoot. For example an analysis of your beach shots may show you have an issue with keeping the horizon level. Note this and become more aware when you shoot. After time this will become automatic but you need to practice it until it does. Of put in a focusing screen with a grid or activate it if your camera has that option.
Sometimes as part of your analysis you may wish to seek the opinion of others. Just be careful whom you ask. Family may not know enough to offer meaningful advice and groups whether online or camera clubs may have people who are prone to the big fish in a small pond syndrome and whose ego is larger than their real knowledge. On the other hand you can find very knowledgeable and caring people in groups that can really help you along. A very valuable thing is to participate in a folio evaluation group, where you get together a small and select group of people with similar interests so you can learn together.
Analysis closes the circle with taking your images. It is necessary. Find ways to make it enjoyable.