There are many similarities between photography and cuisine. Think about it for a moment...
Any good chef will tell you that a plate of food is only as good as the ingredients used.
What we focus our lens on, are the 'ingredients' for our final image. If the subject is not interesting, then we will struggle to make the final image pleasing to the eye. Similarly, if the raw ingredients for the chef's food are poor, then no matter what his or her skills are with the knife and the seasoning, the meal is not likely to meet the chef's vision or meet the expectations of the person eating the food.
Be like the chef. Become familiar with your tools, using a sharp knife can be hazardous if placed in the wrong hands and mistakes using your camera will likely result in a poor image. Using your camera in fully automatic mode, is a bit like the chef asking their assistant to prepare the food for them, whist they oversee the proceedings. Learn to use your camera in fully manual mode ('M' mode on the dial), and after a while, you will become the master of your camera.
Post-Processing. This is when you 'bake' your image. You need to make sure you are shooting in 'Camera RAW' format on your camera to make full use of software like Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop to truly add that 'special touch' to your image. This is when the true magic can happen. Taking this raw ingredients captured with your camera and turning them into something special.
Presentation. You have used the best ingredients, you have worked out post processing workflow and style and now it's time to present your final 'dish' to the viewer. Are you ready?
Timing. A plate of food should be served just in time, in the right atmosphere and with all the right ingredients in place. Very often, this is what will make you image stand out from the crowd. To be a 'michelin starred' photographer, you will need all of the above and a large sprinkling of luck and timing on your side.
Be unique, learn the basics, the advanced techniques and then break all the rules. Most of all have as much fun as you can on the journey.
Be the chef.
Master your tools.
Your camera is a tool.
Be creative with it.