Spurn Point lighthouse. Please click on the image to see the larger version.
There are two fundamentally different approaches to photography. Identifying which type of photographer you are could help you focus your approach and remove inner creative conflicts that you were not even aware of.
You have to ask yourself whether you prefer observing and capturing what you see happening in front of your lens or do you prefer to control your subject matter and direct the action to produce the result you envisage?
Once you decide which type of photography best suits your temperament, creative approach and mindset you can focus your energy on playing to your strengths. Don't struggle against your nature. Go with it.
The split between the two fundamental approaches is of course as old as photography itself. On one side we have the photojournalists, documentary photographers, street photographers and landscape photographers out to capture that special moment. And on the other side we have commercial, studio, advertising, editorial and artist photographers seeking to control every aspect of the final image.
Of course you have a complete spectrum of photographers who do both but I think everyone, if they honestly examine themselves, will ultimately have a preference for one side or the other.
You should acknowledge which side your heart is on and then turn that into your strength. However there is a proviso. By exploring the other side and using the knowledge you gain you can enhance your photography. For example a photojournalist can benefit from using a bit of off-camera flash to improve the image or an advertising photographer can get something new and fresh by allowing an element of spontaneity on a photo shoot.
The above covers capturing the image. Post production using software or in the darkroom is a different realm. There everyone tries to get their image to radiate quality and beauty.
So have you decided which type of photographer you are? Remove the clutter and frustration from your creative process. Do what you want to do, recognise where your creative strength lies, and make every image better than the last one.
I hope that if you feel in conflict with yourself when you read this article you will feel a weight lifting from your shoulders and you will be liberated to pursue your authentic creative vision with renewed passion.