Here are a few simple tips when taking a photo to make it a good shot to start with before any post processing even starts.
Be selective Be selective about what is in your photo. Determine what the most important element is and make sure it is in focus. Leave out anything that can be distracting. Many times a good crop of a photo makes all the difference in the world.
Start by being too close and backing up. This is the opposite of what you may want to instinctively do.
Most photographs start too far back and try to zoom in. Many times the subject is lost.
FILL the frame with your subject.
Don't include EVERYTHING
This brings us right to leave a little mystery. You don't need to include everything in the photo. Leave the viewer wanting more and a little to the imagination.
The Rule of Thirds
Avoid the middle. EVERYONE centers the subject in the middle unless they know better. Try the Rule of Thirds.