It really takes time to take good pictures, it only takes seconds to take a snapshot!
2, Study the pictures of others.
Save the ones you like and study them, why do you like them?
What is the difference with your own pictures.
3. Really study the object you are going to picture.
Walk around, what are the best angles.
4. Don't forget the background.
Is it pleasing, does it distract, is it an addition to the whole.
5. Study the light, is it balanced.
Can you light up some areas with flash or with a reflector.
Is it the right light for the subject? Not to soft, not to hard.
6. Try different compositions. Backgrounds, lighting, depth of field.
7. Keep on studying. Your own pictures, your progress.
Write down what you like about the pictures, and why you like it.
8. Take notes. It will help you understand why pictures are good or bad.
Keep on learning, take your time. It will take some effort in the beginning but it will help your learning curve. Don't stop questioning your images.
After a while you will notice that the process of taking nice pictures speeds up quickly. And at the end you can start taking snapshot again. All the knowledge you need is in your head. You will be able to read an object or a scene in a fast way. Automatically you will go for the best composition, the best lighting, the best DOF.
Or you can choose to keep on taking snapshots, and keep on thinking that others are a lot better than you are. We all have the ability to improve our skills. It only takes a little bit of time and effort.
I wish you all a happy 2010 with better pictures and improved skills. For my part, I know I still have a lot to learn, but I'm pleased to see some progress.