So what’s the secret to great photography? I think it has everything to do with consistency; working in such a way as to virtually guarantee you’ll get good results every shoot. It’s about doing the same things with your lighting setups, flash photography settings, and camera settings every time. Basically, having a default place to start.
I’ve called it “standardization,” but you can think of it as a personal process. Know how to lock down a method that works for you — that gets you the results you want — and use it over and over again. Tweak it, perfect it, make it almost effortless, and you’ll knock out better portrait photos almost without trying. If you can get those good (safe) shots out of the way with time to spare, you’ll have the luxury to try more creative stuff. And sometimes the creative and experimental shots are the strongest ones.
The secret to great photography is about having a routine. Find the patterns that work for you and apply them to a process that you can count on. Your photography will improve tremendously because you’ll eventually master the techniques you use day in and day out.