Taking good photographs, as I've learnt, is usually easier than taking the bad photographs.

Unfortunately most of the 'take good pic' lists end up suggesting expensive ways to do so. From my experience, I believe anyone who is new to photography should start by concentrating solely on the composition of the photograph. Only after you find your compositions are good should you worry about type of camera, film, filter, Aperture, developing etc you use.

Composition is the keyword.

Big question - how does one compose a good photograph?

I follow a few rules of thumb:

LOOK. Look at the viewfinder like you'd look at a picture. What you're looking at in the viewfinder is (more or less) what you're going to get in the pic. So consider your viewfinder as your window to the future.

Make sure your subject is looking good, its covered completely, the background is fine, there is no stray object you do not want in the background.

Make em smile. Make your subjects (when human beings) happy at being photographed. I usually spot something funny and show it to them, a small puppy, some kid playing nearby, or I remind them how beautiful their children are.

Sometimes some people look better when they are anything but smiling. I tell such people to smile and hold a pose, then I start looking at them thru the viewfinder and do not take their snap until their patience runs out and they look at me with a 'Hey !! what are you waiting for!!'

Often, a snap just after a snap helps. Soon after getting photographed, kids tend to make very funny faces. You can capture that by taking two snaps in quick succession.

Off center the subject. It really helps to compose a pic with the subject towards the right or left of the photograph. This gives a very nice depth of field effect to the photograph in contrast to the subject centered compositions.

This may not work very well in point and shoot cameras specially if you're standing very close to the subject. So take note.

And finally - experiment. Experiment a lot. Look at your flaws as artistic effects.

And don't try to be a creative photographer too soon, start by capturing the obvious.