There are a million answers of course; but hell, here's one more.
1. Technical proficiency: I am still caught in the “technically faultless” trap at the moment but I am aiming to get to the point where issues with focus or noise, for example, don’t bother me so much, where proficiency is enough because the photo has something to say besides "look how sharp / well exposed I am". Sometimes this is the case, but not often. Perhaps the subjects I photograph are not compelling enough to override considerations of poor technique. Given enough stimuli, a bit of noise or motion blur can be overlooked in favour of the interesting subject the photographer has chosen to show; in the absence of stimuli the viewer notices technical deficiencies and looks away, unmoved. Of course, the accrual of Old Master status also "helps" the viewer overlook what otherwise might be seen as faulty technique, but that takes time, talent, luck.... (see below).
Which strikes me as brilliant. So what constitutes a looky-through (TM) picture? Well, there's this, taken during marriage vows - a nice picture but a tad uni-directional and "easy" - you aren't looking through and then all around; as a viewer who doesn't know the subjects, you know where you are:
So, how about something like this:
Try looking at that as one or other of their parents in 30 years time and see if you don't look through it rather than at it. Again, however, it won't necessarily spark questions for the uninvolved, for those who don't know the children.
Nothing much eh? Except for me because I know that it is the bathroom floor of the house in which my stepfather lived, some days after his death. So of course I look through this at something else entirely.
The key to an iconic photo, it therefore begins t…