Do you know which of your photos the best one is? Arguably, it’s your next one, because you have placed all your experience and learning into taking it.
How do you get that experience and training? Take lots of pictures and find someone or someplace that can give you an unbiased review and constructive criticism of your work. You need to have someone else to work with to improve.
That’s why we all went to school as kids [well to socialize also]. To learn. Family and friends are likely to tell you what you want to hear. Finding a mentor, instructor, or a group with similar interests will tend to up your game, provide feedback and new ideas to try and [here’s that socialization thing again] make new friends.
Human interaction! Yes, you read that right, the best reason to join a camera club or photography Meetup group is for the human interaction.
Believe me, I think Google and YouTube are amazing and I am jealous of young photographers, because when I learned the basics of photography all we had were really boring books with black and white pictures. (Yes, I am that old) And let’s not overlook how great it is for your ego when you post a photo on Facebook and get tons of likes. However, none of this will help you build skills and usually comes from people with less photography skills than you have.
What I love most about the club events is the fact that most of the people there are passionate about photography. They are passionate about learning and what I have learned is that making myself available to these people teaches me a LOT about photography.
In most careers the longer you do it and the better you get at it, much of it becomes second nature, almost instinctive in process. I find that when people ask me questions about lighting, and depth of field, and composition… questions that to a professional may even seem basic… it makes me think and evaluate my own processes and approach in order to give a good answer. At the same time it often causes me to rethink the WHY behind much of what I do and as a result – makes me better at what I do.