The endless possibilities available to us when making photos can be overwhelming. So much so that we tend to want to just curl up in our comfort zone and nest there. I mean why not. It's comfy. It's safe. We know it. It's tried and true. There is no one reason for anyone to criticize or ridicule your work.
The only problem with the comfort zoneis that after a time, our work becomes stale, unexciting.
If you want to grow...if you want to learn...you have to exit the comfort zone. There's just no getting around it.
But you don't have to make giant leaps. You can start with small steps. One small step at a time and just keep building.
Try a new technique in your camera. I bet there are many features you have never tried. Pick one and see what you can do with it. For example, if your camera allows you to shoot multiple exposures practice what you can do with it. If you always shoot in Aperture Priority well give Shutter Priority a try, or vice versa. Or maybe try manual.
When you are editing photos, don't be afraid to try new techniques. Go wild and to the extremes, if only just to see what it would look like. Then slowly start taming it back until you see something that grabs you.
The picture above is an example of how I played around and came up with something different than anything I have normally done. I had an idea, well more of a feeling, of how I wanted the view through window to be different from the inside. Initially, I thought I would just make the outside black and white and leave a hint of color on the inside wall. However, it wasn't working. As I played with preset options, I discovered that just by selecting portions of the photo and adjusting the temperatures, created a unique look. The single view through the window ended up becoming like two separate views in one. Almost other wordily.
This was the original photo
The tiniest steps can make the biggest impacts. You just have to take that step.