I've said it before, but it bears repeating: good photos do more than just show, they tell. To my mind, an interesting photo, just like an interesting painting or poem, should have layers of interest and meaning. A good photo needs depth. It should pull the viewer in and hold his or her interest.
To illustrate what I mean, I've attached a few photos from a recent trip to my in-laws cabin near Scofield, Utah. One might debate the quality of the images, but I hope each one contains at least a snippet of a story. Take the one of my youngest niece, for example, sitting on the four wheeler with her father. Any doubt that there's a story there?
If you enjoy this documentary style of photography (often referred to loosely as "photo journalism"), then you should invest in a relatively long telephoto lens. The lens used in these photographs is a Canon 70-200 mm zoom, which, when used on a digital camera like mine, captures a view more on the order of 100-300 mm (we'll talk the mechanics of focal length later). A long lens like that allows me to stand far away from my subjects while photographing them. What that means in practice is that they often forget that I'm there, allowing me to capture people acting and interacting naturally.