There are photos that makes you look because they're "nice" and "pretty" and "astig". And then, there are IMAGES that intrigues your mind because they tell a story - or stories - and begs that you ask questions.
I’ve been doing photography in as many years as I’ve been looking at pictures made by others. Oftentimes, “pretty” pictures catch my attention and causes me to take a second look. “Wow! That’s brilliant!” “Nice colors, great composition!” “Perfect exposure!” Yup, I’ve seen endless sunrise and sunset shots, night shots, fashion, landscape, travel, wildlife . . . and so on. They’re all beautiful and eye-catching but there are very few that lingered in my mind. I think it's fair to say that such pictures have lots of style but they lack substance.
What's the picture about? I guess that is the question you should ask yourself about your own pictures. If you can't answer that, then your picture has no substance - it is nothing more than a stylish execution of a skill - or set of skills - acquired from a friend's tutorial.
When I saw the scene of the example photo above, what first captured my eyes was the man standing by the gate. What's he standing there for? Is he waiting for a taxi or bus, or just simply standing by? Does he live there? And then I noticed the rhythmic lines of the buildings architecture. Is it an apartment or an office building? Then I noticed the textures and the rundown condition of its paintwork, doors, windows, etc. This must be a grand place some years ago.
While it offers clues as to the story behind the picture, I'm sure that you'll have more questions yourself. And that's what this photo is all about, its substance - a slice of life in the city and the people that probably lives inside this building.
Nowadays, photographers are too focused on technique and perfection of skills that many have forgotten what photography is all about ---> light and seeing.