So we try to "see" the photo before we raise the camera to our eye. We compose, possibly using the "rule of thirds". We may look for a "leading line". And above all, we look for the light - the right light - the light that you would normally get at sunrise or sunset.
This is a photograph of a street in Galway called The Long Walk. It is just past The Spanish Arch. It's lined with colourful houses along the banks of the River Corrib. It is often photographed and painted and I can easily see why.
I composed with the rule of thirds in mind - the street occupies the bottom third. The setting sun to my left created some lovely reflections in the water and there was a beautiful blue sky. But as much as I willed them to, the dramatically lit clouds would not move into my scene. Because of this, I felt that the photograph wasn't "perfect".
But looking at it later on the computer screen, I was reminded of the peacefulness and contentment that I felt that perfect evening in Galway. And that emotional connection is perhaps the greatest ingredient you can have in any photograph.
I hope you feel it too.