Think conceptually

Conceptual photography is a great thing. When a photographer goes beyond the act of capturing what is available (NO disrespect to photo-journalists! this is very different than what they do!) to creating an image that expresses a clear concept, something amazing happens. When there is true creative collaboration between photographer and art director, art happens, even in the commercial realm. Think about the incredible Amnesty International ads, for example. Or, on a more business-y level, the work of Stephen Webster.
But, concepts and their executions can become trite. Forty Media nails this phenomenon with their post on the Top Ten Stock Photography Clichés.

It’s a great self-assignment for a photographer to give him/herself a concept to express. Doing work like this can help you think in new and exciting ways. Just be careful to avoid the obvious and the trite.