If I’m going to shoot somewhere that is a pretty common photo spot, often times, just before going out, I will look at pictures that others have taken in the same location for inspiration. This works in two ways though.
Suppose you’re going out to shoot your city’s skyline at dusk. I live in Dallas, Texas so there are about a million shots of the city at all hours of the day. I can use those pictures to help me find a composition that I like, or an angle to shoot from. Maybe the shot from my chosen location looks better in the morning rather than the evening due to the position of the sun.
However, I also use other photos of that location to help me choose what shots I don’t want to take. I want to make an image that is my image, not one that has been shot a thousand times before. It’s easy to run into this at highly photographed locations, national parks and other vacation destinations. The challenging part is finding a composition that hasn’t been done while still gathering all of the pieces of the scene. Always look for a foreground, a middle ground and a background element to have in your shot.
When looking at other photos of your location, note things that stand out to you as interesting (like graffiti on a distant building, or an old building with a worn out wooden door) and maybe try shooting those things from a different angle instead if just getting buried in a much larger shot. If your shot isn’t interesting enough, get closer!
Checking out other people’s work can be a quick motivator of what you do, and don’t want in your shot. Try it and see if you put more thought into your composition the next time you get out and shoot!