Move really close to your subject and your photography will be much better. When you think you’re close enough, move two steps closer before taking the picture. Pros know this and do it, but the average photographer still tries to get “the big picture.”
When on vacation, shoot the famous landmarks first and get it over with. (Example: the Eiffel Tower in Paris) Then get on to shooting the people, the local flavor, the customs, shots that speak to the photographer in you.
Posing group portraits: Instead of lining everyone up, get them to rally around an object and they’ll arrange themselves naturally around it.
Crop off the top of their head. It’s a very popular pro technique and you’ll see it everywhere as the mainstay of top fashion, beauty, and portrait shooters. Don’t however crop off a chin. That leads to a very uncomfortable composition.
For children, get on their level. They don’t always have to smile. If you follow them around with a camera long enough, they will forget you’re taking pictures and you can catch them with their normal expressions.
Give the camera to someone else so you can be in the picture. Look at the picture and if it’s not how you want it, thank them profusely and ask them to take one more from a little different angle, closer, etc.
Go back home. Visit your childhood neighborhood and take pictures.
Remember the rule of thirds. Having the key elements of your photo off-center makes for a much more visually appealing picture.