I wonder if there are two schools of thought. One where photographers wander around with their cameras wondering what to add to their photographs, and the others who are thinking about what can be removed to make their photographs stronger.
Perhaps the the first approach is the one of the novice, while the latter is the thought processes of a master.
Which one are you?
Ralph Gibson is the latter. Here he describes his process of subtraction.
"....if you’re going to make a drawing, you take a paper and a pencil and add lines, add marks, until you finish your drawing. It's additive. When I make a photograph, I move in closer and I take things away, and I take things away, until I get everything out of the frame except what I want. Therefore my process is considered subtractive."
He goes on to explain how he does it...
"Now part of this subtraction has to do with casting things into deep shadow. I eliminate a lot of unwanted material, activity into the shadow area. And in so doing, create a shape. Instead of just being a variation on light, for me shadows become cut forms, they become shapes. And I discovered this by photographing primarily in bright sun and exposing for highlights, which is pretty easy to do. Most people struggle to get detail into their shadows. I was never interested in that kind of photographic expression particularly. - Ralph Gibson
source for quotes: http://bermangraphics.com/press/ralphgibson.htm